Social media campaign encourages farmers to tell their story to consumer

The non-profit group Farm On wants farmers around the world to talk about their farming experiences 
via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on April 22

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A group of young Alberta farmers is urging producers from across the province, and around the world, to join a social media ‘Farm Voices’ campaign on April 22 and tell the public what really happens on farms.

“About 80 per cent of the search results in Google are results from non-farming organizations telling farmers’ stories,” said Sarah Wray, a director with Farm On, the non-profit group behind the Farm Voices campaign.

“We decided that it was crazy that other organizations and non-farming special-interest groups are telling the story of agriculture and going out and having a larger voice than farmers do.”

Wray’s group wants producers to share their farming experiences via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #farmvoices.

Having actual farmers talk about what they love about farming, their challenges or how they care for the land or animals will give urbanites a better understanding of agriculture, she said.

“This movement is about the entire industry and all farmers working together,” she said.

Pushing a united voice out to consumers makes the farm voice stronger, she said.

“The best way you can help is to pass this on to the people you know and work to spread the message in any way you can,” said Wray from her home in Bashaw. “It’s really important to us that this is owned by farmers themselves and not necessarily by us.”

Farmers from Canada, Australia, the U.S. and the United Kingdom have contacted Farm On to offer support or get involved. Lakeland College helped the group create the promotional video used to spread the word about the Farm Voices campaign.

“Lakeland College has been a key group in helping us bring this forward,” said Wray. “The kids are so awesome and they are actually currently running a campaign for Phase 2 of what we’re creating. This wasn’t just about consumers coming on board and hearing all the stories. That was the first piece of it, but the second part of it is to try to find a way for consumers to show support for young farmers and invest in them.”

Farm On is currently running a competition in co-operation with Lakeland College to try to get suggestions for “swag” products consumers can purchase with proceeds going towards a fund for young farmers. Young farmers will be able to access the fund to help acquire mentorships, take business courses, or pursue post-secondary education. Farm On’s goal is to be a channel to help funnel new farmers to the people who have experience and information, Wray said.

“We’re not claiming to be business experts or to have all the answers, but what’s been really cool is to see the industry coming together and working together to try and make it easier and take down some barriers for young farmers,” she said.

Farm On’s mission is to help farmers in the business of farming.

“What we’ve been doing is working with different organizations in Alberta and Western Canada to pass on their learning and knowledge to the younger generation,” she said. “We’ve also been working with experts in different aspects of business, in financial management, marketing and all those other areas.”

More information can be found at www.farmon.com and http://farmon.com/TheMove ment

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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