In my first blog I talked about how I sat in on a speaker who encouraged farmers to get on social media and tell our stories. That was in 2013 and for years I tried to figure out what that story looked like. How would I tell that story in a way that would be unique and interesting? It wasn’t until the year 2017 that I figured it out – and I’ll tell you – it was embarrassingly in my lap the whole time.
The Importance of Telling the Story of Farming
I wrote about this a little bit in my other blogs, but essentially, farmers need to introduce ourselves. It had become apparent to me after starting my career in the big city as a graphic designer that farming was a foreign concept to most people. The only interaction with farming most of my coworkers had was farm themed toys and children’s books they had as a little kids. I was shocked by the disconnection and was motivated to remove it.
Consumer research shows that even though people have a lot of questions about their food, they still view farmers amongst the most trustworthy sources of information about it. Social media offers us the unique ability to connect with those people and answer those questions since we cannot go to their houses and have a conversation. Just by posting about our day, what we’re up to and why, we can provide everything they need to know. As long as we are transparent and honest, the consumer will be receptive.
How to Tell the Story of Farming
For a few years, I worked as a graphic designer in an office in the city and in that time I was casually educating friends and colleagues about agriculture because I was so passionate about it. This was a dull attempt at fulfillment in my life. I wanted to farm, I wanted to make art and I wanted to help the agriculture industry. None of those things were really adding up. I thought quitting my office job and going to work on the farm would clear things up… and over time it actually did. I started drawing ridiculous situations I found myself in during the day and sharing them with my city friends. They encouraged me to start posting them on Instagram. Before I knew it, I’d found my voice. I was telling my story in a way that was unique to me.
Everyone has to find their own way. SharkFarmer has a podcast, Andrew Campbell posts daily farm photos and The Peterson Brothers make song parodies. Whatever feels the most comfortable or fun for you is how you should tell your story. The farm community represents 2% of Canada. You may not get the notoriety of the people listed here, but you can at least bring a voice to the table so that as a whole we can compete with all the noise out there online.
Comics about Farming
What started as a hobby and a way for me to relieve stress became a real, possible career path. Through innocent jokes and silly faces I was able to convey what life is like for me as a farmer in this modern world. It began to catch the interest of local papers and agriculture based magazines and has led to a few collaborations with various organizations. Then I decided to publish my first children’s book, coming full circle to the farmer in the book of my old coworker’s childhoods. Only this time, it was going to be an authentic representation of the modern Canadian farmer and just how complex they are.
Long Story Short
Social media has given me the opportunity to follow a career path that I didn’t think existed. I am able to do all the things I always wanted to do: work on the farm, make art and help the agriculture industry. I encourage everyone, as I was encouraged back in 2013, to get online and share their own story in whatever format they want. The effort is minimal but impactful, we can’t change the way things are overnight, but we can offer consumers the chance to have their questions answered by the only people who can answer them: The people growing and raising their food.
How do you tell your story? Whether you’re a farmer or not, how do you share your personal brand with the world? As a non-farmer, do you find it helpful for farmers to tell their stories on social media, and if so, why?
Ishmael, W. (2013, October 25). Ignorance is ag’s biggest challenge when connecting with consumers.
Jordan, T. How to tell your farm story.