Planting Food for Thought

February 16, 2012 | 5:02 pm

It finally arrived! I had been anticipating the CHS magazine with a feature story on the Nutrients for Life “mommy blogger” (that’s me). It’s not every day your blog is featured in a Fortune 100 company magazine with a circulation of 235,000. I quickly thumbed through and found the article. I called my three girls to the kitchen and showed them the article. They giggled and recalled the photo shoot with CHS photographer, David Lundquist. This “mommy blogger” is humbled and honored to be featured by CHS Inc.


CHS Inc. is the nation’s leading cooperative, owned by farmers, ranchers and co-ops across the United States.  A diversified energy, grains and foods business and a a supporter of the Nutrients for Life foundation.

Check it out…

Click here to view the whole magazine


Planting Food for Thought
Annette Degnan

This “mommy blogger” educates other young women about gardening and the role of crop nutrients in feeding the world’s many hungry mouths.

Growing up on an Iowa farm, Dee McKenna dreamed of becoming a mom and a teacher. Today, she’s fulfilling both ambitions.

McKenna is a traditional stay-at-home mom who uses a nontraditional forum to teach others about a topic near and dear to her heart. She’s a “mommy blogger” who writes online from her Benton, Kan., home to educate consumers about the role crop nutrients play in food production.

Blogs (short for weblogs) are the Internet version of newspaper columns. Just as newspaper writers have loyal readers, so do bloggers. That may be especially true in the case of the legions of mommy bloggers. They share views and opinions with other engaged young women who are hungry for information on everything from potty training to buying a car.

In McKenna’s case, she’s helping others learn more about agriculture through gardening. “Most people older than I am learned to garden from their grandparents, but today, that generational link is missing,” she says. “Through my blog, I’m teaching gardening basics from the ground up, literally. I refer to fertilizer as nutrients and instruct that fertilizer is a necessary ingredient, whether gardening on a small scale or in production agriculture.

“Blogs are peers talking to each other about issues relevant to their lives,” says McKenna. “Moms sharing stories about their interests are more believable than ads or other recommendations.”

Industry Voice

McKenna writes her blog for the Nutrients for Life Foundation, the nonprofit education arm of the fertilizer industry based in Washington, D.C. Nutrients for Life thrives through the help of many industry supporters, including The Fertilizer Institute and CHS.

Intensive industry monitoring of the media to gauge public opinion about fertilizer pointed to many young mothers’ concerns about food production. “Nearly all the blogs we researched were about organic gardening, as if there was no other way to grow food,” says Harriet Wegmeyer, executive director of the Nutrients for Life Foundation.

“We knew instantly that this was an area where our voice needed to be represented and where we could fill a void,” Wegmeyer continues. “Dee’s blog gives the fertilizer industry a credible voice and a popular venue to share facts about how, when and why to use fertilizer.”

Credible Background

McKenna’s ag roots run deep. She grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm near Knoxville, Iowa, where she was active in 4-H and FFA. Early on, she was exposed to the fertilizer industry because her mother was a bookkeeper at the local cooperative. McKenna earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture education from Iowa State and Texas A&M universities. She taught high school vocational agriculture for two years in Iowa and later became involved in the Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s Junior Master Gardener program. Her husband, Dave, is also involved in agriculture as a meat scientist.

Blog topics range from using leaves as mulch and freezing sweet corn to the role of potassium and phosphate in producing healthy, high-yielding crops. But no matter what the subject is, she casts fertilizer in a positive light. “I teach that if you pull nutrients out of the ground through vegetables or crops, you have to put nutrients back in.”

Between raising children and increasing awareness about gardening and fertilizer use, McKenna says she couldn’t be happier. “This is my dream job. I’m home with our children, and I get to use my education and my passion for agriculture to help people understand that 40 to 60 percent of our food supply is a direct result of fertilizer.

“There are 7 billion souls on this earth, and we can’t feed them without fertilizer.”