The Big Picture: Communicating the Message of Local Agriculture
Kathy Smith, marketing director of The Farmer’s Cow, and Amanda Freund of BuyCTGrown, share advice on communicating the message of local agriculture.
BuyCTGrown is campaign to enlist business and institutions to pledge to buy 10% locally grown products to support Connecticut food, farmers and businesses.
The Farmer’s Cow is a group of six Connecticut family dairy farms working for the future of our families and dairy businesses. Together, they produce milk, half and half, eggs, coffee, cider, summer beverages, ice cream sandwiches and ice cream.
A List of Must-Haves
•Have an online presence: While it’s difficult for many farmers to maintain an active website, they can connect with other organizations such as BuyCTGrown, which has an active website. Farmers can submit profiles stories and videos, and list an event. Establishing a Facebook page is easy, effective and critical; link it to a Twitter account.
•Cross pollinate: By becoming a promotional partner with buyctgrown.com you can use their logo on your website, at your farm stand, or at your CSA to further promote locally grown and add value to your product.
•Tell Your Story: Farm profiles are especially popular with consumers; they are extremely curious about who their farmers are an what they do. Create a compelling brochure, or an online story or blog, that chronicles your farm. People are interested what your do. Being a farmer to some people is like running away with the circus. Share that excitement. Enlist someone to get your story out.
•Photos, Photos, Photos: A picture is worth a thousand words. Great photos are the holy grail, and they shared the most on social media.
But even photos of everyday farm activities posted on Facebook page are likely to be shared, thus building your audience of potential customers. The most popular posts shared are: good looking farmers (!!), baby animals and tractors, tractors, tractors.
•Invite People, or Partner on a Farm Tour: Partner with a local 4-H group to be part of a farm tour and invite people out to your farm to educate them about agriculture.
•Demo Your Products: Bring your products or produce to stores and to consumers and demonstrate how to prepare them, and give out samples. Pick an underserved vegetable like Kohlrabi and showcase how it can be prepared.
•Adopt a Chef: Invite a restaurant chef and his staff to visit the farm; it gives them an emotional connection to the food.
•Branding: Develop a logo or image for your farm that says what and who you are. This may be one area where the cost of hiring a graphic designer may be worthwhile.
Be the Face of the Farmer: Be an advocate in your community for all agriculture. Be knowledgable about other farms and what they offer. Be an expert in your field or specialty.
Value-added branding: Be the farmer who can provide consumers information on how to plant, how to make butter out of cream, and other useful information.
Push the Message: 98 per cent of the eggs that consumers eat are from factory farms so push the message that local eggs are better by providing interesting backup data. Have a blog about your product and why they are better and why they might cost more using statistics.
Develop a Cooperative: Meet with other farmers in the community to share ideas and net venture by sharing equipment and resources.
Celebrate Agriculture: Partner with an agricultural commission or park and recreation commission to sponsor an event such as Harvest Day or Heritage Day that includes activities centered around locally grown food and agriculture legacy.