Livestock_By Danna All this past week, even immersed in pig business, the workshop and guests, I have been having some brilliant conversations with Heather Gorringe and Farmer Phil of Wiggly Wigglers about the plight of farming, agriculture and how Social media can close the gap between farmer and consumer and how it can help change the stereotypical public perception of farming.

While some my poo-poo Social Media, web 2.0 and the newer forms of internet communication, I believe it is the way forward for the little guy, the marginalized, the ordinary folk who have something of value to add, to do so. At this point in time it is critical for farmers to be in this group, and for those of us with the capability to shine a light on their plight to make every effort. Without farmers and farms there is no food. Yet in current governmental policy, in supermarket advertising, in common public perception, agriculture is taking a beating, and hard working , honest farmers along with it.

We consumers need to stop and think of what we are doing when we buy food. Where it comes from, and who grew it. We must then consider meeting these unsung heroes of our digestion–the farmers. And I believe this takes more than just pitching up at the farmgate to buy a head of cabbage–although, that’s a start. It means involving yourself in rural issues to some extent and going around to your neighbors–especially if they are farmers–to discuss issues which may be an annoyance to you. Buy a Farmer a Pint! or the local equivalent and help broaden positive agricultural relations today.

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6 Responses to “Farming, Agriculture and Social Media”  

  1. 1 Steve Lospalluto

    Hi Neal.
    Though I am a little skeptical of all the buzz about social media, I would agree that it can play a role in closing the gap between producer and consumer. I think producers of agricultural products should definitely have a presence on the web with a “traditional” website whether or not there is a social aspect like a blog or newsletter. I think where web 2.0 comes in to the benefit of small producers can be from the consumer side; bloggers posting about farms and foods that they visit, patronize, admire, etc. But what I think is valuable are postings or blogs that emphasize the enriching experience that people have enjoyed at the farm or back in the kitchen or home.
    A couple of blogs in our Skagit Valley region that I have come across that promote local producers are : http://foodonthebrain.wordpress.com/ and http://skagitfoodshed.wordpress.com/ .
    A farmer’s blog that I have enjoyed is http://www.ladybugletter.com/ which is more of a newsletter of the creative writing of farmer Andy Griffin.
    Make mine an IPA.
    Steve

  2. 2 admin

    Steve,

    Thanks for the views. In terms of defining Social Media/Web 2.0, I don’t think we can limit ourselves to just “blogs” as the only means of outreach. One thing we typically forget is that, in all reality, email is social media. When we send an email with links to information we want to share then we are using “social media”. In addition, Podcasts, networking sites like Linked-In and Facebook are all great platforms to share information, get feedback and engage in discussion.

    Most important, though, is that the discussion gets started.

  3. 3 Steve Lospalluto

    Neal,
    My skepticism is in the use of these social media tools like facebook, linked-in, myspace by ag product producers. I guess I’m waiting for some examples of producers that are usng these methods to connect with their customers (or potential ones).
    Right now I see people using the “traditional” internet tools to source ag products. For example, people use websites like localharvest.org that are national in scope to find farms and farm products near their homes. Or in our area people use sites like pugetsoundfresh.org that has an easy to search database. It’s up to the growers to maintain their profiles and links to their websites.
    Anyway, I agree that the discussion should get started and is worth having. But gardening and farming always comes down to show and tell – how did you do it and was it successful?
    Cheers, Steve

  4. 4 Stephanie

    Social media is a powerful way to put yourselves out there in front of your end consumer. When people buy produce, I don’t think many of them think of the people behind the product, but if farmers create a strong presence on Twitter or Facebook, for example, you can find and network with people in your area, make them aware of your better practices and farmers market schedules and make maybe even make some of them think twice the next time they go to buy produce.

    Even if you don’t have a ton of time to spend sitting around on the computer, by getting your message out to those who are more active on social media, your message is out there to spread via word-of-mouth (word-of-type?) by those who are more active. The idea is simply to get your brand/message across to people who didn’t know it before, and because it’s free to use things like Facebook and Twitter, I think it’s a huge missed opportunity to not take advantage of these tools.

    From an article on Businessweek.com: “It’s not just audience size that draws brands. People who use the site are likely to hold sway over others. A single Twitter message—known informally as a tweet—sent in frustration over a product or a service’s performance can be read by hundreds or thousands of people. Similarly, positive interaction with a representative of the manufacturer or service provider can help change an influencer’s perspective for the better.”
    (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/sep2008/tc2008095_320491.htm)

    So check them out — what could it hurt? I look forward to hearing from you: http://www.twitter.com/fancyfoodmag

  5. 5 admin

    Stephanie,

    Thanks for stopping in. You are exactly right. Social Media tools are a great way for producers, farmers, consumers and agencies to share information, spread messages and provide vital feedback. I mention this theme as well in the article which pings-back to this one. Check out the link to “Bearing the Standard at The Kitchen Garden Network” below.

  1. 1 Bearing the Standard at The Kitchen Garden Network

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