Farmers and Social Media

Check out this great post on Farm to Table about the uses of social media, websites, blogs, and more for emerging and established “unconventional farmers.”

As an unconventional farmer you need to do it all, you need to be a marketer and customer relations specialist, and that’s on top of being a soil expert, a prolific weeder, a cheesemaker, etc..Today’s unconventional farmer must wear a lot of hats besides the metaphorical straw one.

It can be overwhelming. However, social media is an excellent way of interacting and meeting new costumers without having to leave the farm. Social Media has enabled farmers to reach their customers, interact with them, answer questions and provoke discussions without having to drive to the city.

Corporations are spending millions to create sophisticated narratives for engineered social media campaigns. You do not need this. You already got it. You became a farmer because you care about our land, bodies and food system.  People are ready to hear your story and support you. Haven’t you heard? Farmers are the new rock stars. The inherent narrative built into farming lifestyles is already perfected. Now you just need to share it. And we want more! [Ulla Kjarval. “The Farming Revolution and Social Media.” 23 Oct 2009]

I am heading to Brookings today to give a Farm Beginnings presentation on marketing, and this is going to be one of my big points.  As much as some entrenched anti-techies hate to hear it, if you’re not on the internet, you don’t exist to a large portion of potential customers and contacts.

Heck, even Wendell Berry (who eschews the online world) has plenty of web presence thanks to his fans.  But most farmers aren’t that famous, so they aren’t likely to have a legion of fans spreading the online word about their enterprise–they have to do it themselves.

Furthermore, I’ve found social media–especially Twitter–really helpful for bringing me articles and information I might not otherwise find myself.  The above article is a perfect example–one of the people/organizations I follow posted a link, and I clicked right on through. It’s like my personal local food/sustainable ag news reader.

And because I’m engaged on the web, I can re-tweet that article to my own Twitter followers; I can share it on Facebook, and I can blog about it right here.  I can spread the word much farther than e-mail would ever allow.

Thanks to Ulla Kjarval for this great post, and to Farm to Table for providing such great coverage of issues in the local food and sustainable ag movement.  Now, I’m off to read that other interesting-sounding article on Local Foods and the Recession!

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