Published in the April 17, 2013 issue of The Edmonton Sun.
Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.
Social media being used to encourage farmers
There’s a farming problem in Canada.
Farm numbers are on the decline and farmers are getting older.
“We have a huge demographic loss of young farmers,” says young Alberta farmer Sarah Wray.
“Over 50 per cent of farmers farming right now are over the age of 55 and they’re set to retire.”
Wray, who chatted with me over the phone from her farm near Bashaw, says she recognized the problem and along with husband Logan and other concerned Alberta farmers, launched a website FarmOn.com (@FarmOn) as a way to help and encourage young farmers while addressing the disconnect between food producers and consumers.
Farm On offers resources, tips and online workshops that teach farmers how to use video, Twitter, blogs and other social tools to reach out to farmers and the public.
“Social media has been a crucial piece of what I believe is going to make a difference to our industry,” Wray says.
Now a social media movement aims to bring about positive change in the farming industry.
“Farmers feed your family, then take a second job to feed their own.”
On April 22, young farmers from around the world are set to share their stories across social media platforms using the hashtag #FARMVOICES.
Wray says pictures and short stories reflecting life and challenges from farmers in more than 20 countries around the world will be posted to Twitter, Instagram and on Farm On’s Facebook Page.
A live-stream of posts tagged with #FARMVOICES will also be collected on FarmOn.com/FarmVoices.
Non-farmers are also being asked to get involved.
“In order to make a difference, in order for the relationship to grow, the public has to get involved with this,” Wray says.
“There’s an opportunity there to actually influence and find out more about your food by participating. They can actually see in real-time and start to connect and talk to people and maybe even participate larger in the way that their food is grown.”
Farmers feed us. And yet there’s so much distance between farmers and consumers in society today.
It’s exciting to see young farmers utilizing social tools to inspire change.
Even more exciting is how social media is eliminating distance and bringing not only farmers closer together – but consumers as well.
Wray says young farmers from all over have been sharing stories through social media and one surprise is that they’re hearing the same stories told – everyone is struggling in a similar way.
“Every government is different and we’re still having the same story told from each country. It’s important to remember that it’s not just a government issue, it’s a society issue,” Wray says.
“It’s both consumer and farmer and until we start to pay attention to it, it’s never going to change.”
On April 22, watch the farming social movement unfold.
Hear them out and find out how you can help them out.
Some Tweets of the Week
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@KikkiPlanet: “yegsturbators”(n) definition: people who get more pleasure from saying “Edmonton sucks” than they could from discovering it doesn’t. #yeg