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How to Tell your Farm Story using Social Media

 

We Are Our Own Gatekeepers

Just a decade ago, the media was dominated by a few (very loud) voices. We watched the TV news at 5 p.m. and read the newspaper over coffee. If, as a farmer or a manufacturer or an inventor, we wanted to tell our story, we wrote up a press release and faxed it out – hoping someone would bite. Or, we sank thousands into advertising.

For the most part, farmers didn’t need to hire a big-city public relations firm to tell consumers that milk came from cows. Then came the social media revolution.

For the first time in history, the “gatekeepers” of media didn’t have the power to pick through a pile of press releases and decide which story to run or which consumer questions to answer (and which to ignore). Suddenly every individual had a public voice and a collective of individuals could create a revolution in a matter of days (literally, in some cases).


What happened next?

An overwhelming number of questions came pouring out of the consumer sector. Suddenly, people who previously thought to themselves “I wonder how many gallons of milk comes from a single cow each day?” could simply Google it. And if they couldn’t find out through Google, they could post the question on their Facebook page. Conversations got started and questions got answered.

The problems and uncertainty for farmers (and all industries) in this open information marketplace lies in the fact that the people who “answer” may have no idea what they are talking about. Misinformation becomes fact. Complicated answers become black-and-white. Conversation becomes argument.

This scenario of question/answer has played out in every industry in every sector in every marketplace. People want to know who is making, growing, shipping and selling the products they buy, eat and use. And they have the right to know. And we should be proud to share our stories with them. The more consumers understand the diverse, complex and fascinating world of food production, the more respect and understanding the industry will earn.


What do we do now?

It’s simple: we embrace transparency and tell our stories honestly with the people we work with, sell to, and learn from. It’s called public relations, agvocacy, conversation, or more simply, storytelling.

We are proud of what we do and are proud of our industry. We put food on the table of hundreds of millions of families each day in North America alone. And we stand together against bad actors and actions.

Of course we must listen to and acknowledge the concerns of those who trust us with their dinners, but with our voices, we must focus on our stories: our future, our technology, our commitment to safety, health, and social and environmental responsibility, our love of the land and our way of life, our dedication to our families. We admit our shortcomings and work to improve.

The more of us who choose to engage proactively and productively in conversation with the consumer audience, the more powerful our message will be. The tools we can use are Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+ (to name just a few).

As an ag business newbie and self-proclaimed city slicker, I was honored to be invited to the second Agvocacy 2.0 conference in Nashville, Tennessee, last month. The AgChat Foundation, a social media advocacy organization established to “empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms” held the conference to connect and teach ag professionals like me (and you) how to effectively use online platforms to help us tell our stories.

As I sat in the room a hundred ag professionals who have embraced social media and are using these tools to share these messages, I began to think of all of the millions of others who have yet to engage. Yes, the conference was amazing and I learned a lot. Yes, I think you should try to go, if you can. But, yes, I also understand that many farmers and ag professionals don’t have the time or knowledge to jump into Facebook or Twitter and figure it out.

One of the key messages of Jeff Fowle, AgChat Foundation past board president, in his opening remarks at the Agvocacy 2.0 conference was “reach beyond the choir.”

In my attempt to reach beyond the choir, I am appealing to you — the farmer and industry professional who doesn’t know where to start — pick one place to start.

Set up a Twitter account (it’s simple) and follow @AgChat@agchatfound and me (@amyserves). I’ll help you figure out how to follow along during the weekly AgChat. You can start by just reading the conversation.

Make a Facebook page for your farm (ask around! Your local Chamber of Commerce can probably help, or your teenage kid, for sure!). Connect locally, regionally and through the industry and share your daily life. Start by connecting with others through AgChat Foundation’s page (https://www.facebook.com/AgChatFoundation).

Visit www.agchat.org and read a few of the blog posts highlighted to get an idea about what other people are writing.

If you have something to say, but aren’t sure which avenue to take, connect with the AgChat community or email me and I can try to help.

We’re all in this together. We’re our own gatekeepers and our own storytellers, and through agvocacy, we are our own public relations machine.

Let’s use the tools we have available and get our story out. It’s one we can all be proud to share.

Article courtesy of DCCWaterbeds via Progressive Dairyman

Link Photo courtesy of Paolo Del Signore


How do you use social media to connect with consumers?

Want to learn the meaning of good conversation? Check out Tim Wray in “Get the Conversation Going.”
 

DIY Wood Pallet Shelf

Learn how to make a DIY wood pallet shelf. It’s super easy, just follow the steps below.

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1 wood pallet Chainsaw or Skill Saw
Drill Screws
Paint or Wood Stain Sand Paper
Paint Brush or Rag Hammer
Scrap piece of wood (optional) Stencils, Acrylic Paint & Varnish (optional

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Lay your pallet on a flat surface
Cut the inner 2×4’s across the top of the second 1×6 from the bottom

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Now that you have the outline of the shelf we need to put a base on it. You can either use a piece of 1×6 pulled off the MIDDLE of the pallet (that way you still leave wood for a shelf from the opposite end of the pallet) or you can use any scrap of lumber that cover the gap at the bottom.

Stand the shelf so that the bottom of it is facing UP and lay the board you are using for the bottom on top of that. Hold securely and attach the bottom board with about 3 screws on each end, and 3 into the middle 2×4. Remember to make sure your board is flush with the wood on the side of the shelf that goes against the wall or it won’t hang right.

If your board is longer than the shelf now is the time to cut it off. If the board you used for the bottom is wider than the shelf you can either leave it as is or trim it off with your saw.

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Now, just like that we have our shelf. Round up a scrap of sand paper and give the rough edges a bit of a sanding. I am going for “rustic” (or lazy) here so I just cleaned up anything that would leave slivers!

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Using either left over wood stain or paint give your shelf some color using a paint brush or a rag depending on the product. Let it dry.

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After the paint/stain is dry if you want to spice it up a bit you can add just about anything you like to the front of the shelf. For my own shelf I chose to do a quote with a simple graphic done in acrylic paint.

To finish it off, I recommend giving it a coat of a varnish or clear acrylic sealer which is available at most craft or hardware stores. This way the paint doesn’t bleed and you can wipe the shelf down as needed.

Kelsey and John Beasley’s Ranch Story

Working in a large family ranch operation isn’t always easy, but as Kelsey and John Beasley will tell you, it also comes with incredible rewards and advantages. Their story is an example of the passion, determination, courage and wisdom that it takes to be successful in this farm business.

Though John has been a rancher for a long time, it all started for Kelsey when she moved out to the ranch and became a rancher’s wife. Both John and Kelsey grew up in Alberta, however their first experience ranching together was in Western Manitoba. When John’s family ranch in Alberta was divided up they made the decision to move back home, and have been ranching here ever since.
Kelsey and John Beasley’s Ranch Story

DIY: Home Remedies for Sick Chickens

by Meg, (Bullsbrook, WA, Australia)

SICK CHOOK REMEDIES

(P.S. “CHOOK” IS AUSTRALIAN SLANG FOR “CHICKEN”)
The three of my mainstays for sick chooks are cinnamon, star anise, and sometimes turmeric, on top of the standard garlic and apple cider vinegar.

Here are links (mostly from Backyard Poultry Info Centre) about each:

Cinnamon – esp good for diarrhea.

Tumeric – disease prevention plus treatment of arthritis and liver disease.

Star Anise – antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral and good for treating rheumatism.

Garlic – disease prevention e.g. for worms, plus antimicrobial and antifungal.

Apple Cider Vinegar – add to water to prevent thrush.

SICK CHOOK DIET

Feed once a day (in the morning) for three days or until it looks and acts better – up to 3 weeks.

This amount feeds one bird. Each serving consists of:

½ to 1 x cooked egg yolk… crumbled into mixture
1 teaspoon of cod liver oil
1 very small drizzle of honey
2 x tablespoons natural yoghurt – no sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons rolled oats or Baby rice
1 dessertspoon of beef tin cat food…… Not dog food
A few grains of multi vitamin powder
2 tablespoons of grated apple

Mix to make a crumble mixture not runny, if you have to roll into pellets and force feed, and then gently massage the neck in a downward motion to get it down into the crop, then do it, the bird may be too weak to eat or have lost the desire to eat.

If not fully eaten with in 12 hours throw it out… make another one the next morning.. don’t add to it.. clean out the dish it was in also before adding the new mixture.

Always have fresh clean water available at all time for the bird and good quality food. Also have her ordinary feed and fresh clean water available at all times.

HEALTHY CHICKEN TREAT

Give this as a weekly treat to keep your birds healthy:

Bring milk to the brink of the boil and then add enough apple cider vinegar, while stirring, to force the milk to separate into white curds and clear whey. Add enough good quality multigrain bread to soak up the whey and cool before feeding out to your poultry.

Please share your own home remedies for our feathered friends, we would to hear what has worked well for you and your flock !

Article courtesy of Information courtesy of Small Farm Permaculture and Sustainable Living