Perspectives Online

Agriculture and Social Media workshop offers social media training to farmers

In the farming community, “tweets,” “Facebook fans,” and “blogs” aren’t typically part of the day-to-day grind. Debbie Roos, agricultural Extension agent in Chatham County, is out to change that.

Roos hosted a workshop in March, “Agriculture and Social Media,” to help North Carolina farmers become familiar with social media tools and learn how to use the Web to their advantage.

Morning sessions covered Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogging. After a lunch prepared with local foods by Angelina’s Kitchen, Simon Huntley of Small Farm Central partnered with Roos to lead two sessions, “Principles of Web Marketing for Farms” and “Creating a Farm Web site.”

The day concluded with a talk led by Huntley and Judy Lessler of Harland’s Creek Farm titled, “Online Tool for Managing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Memberships.”  

Nearly 60 farmers from more than a dozen different North Carolina counties participated in the workshop.

“The goal here today is for you to learn about social media tools and figure out which ones will work for you,” Roos said to workshop participants. “These tools are a powerful way to get your message across and reach new people. You’ll be amazed at the connections you make.”

Ben Bergmann of Fickle Creek Farm in Efland said of his Facebook experience, “Current customers feel like they’re involved with the farm, outside of the market. They like seeing what’s happening on the farm, especially through pictures.”

Marcia Tice, an apprentice at Breeze Farm in Orange County, is a self-professed social media newbie.

“I set up my Facebook page yesterday, and I plan to set up Twitter next. I’m overwhelmed by all this … my generation is mostly on e-mail. But I see the value of social media, and I need to jump in.”

Jason and Haruka Oatis from Edible Earthscapes in Moncure created a blog to promote their farm and CSA. Their effort paid off almost immediately, they said, with nearly half of their current CSA members coming from the Web.

“We started the blog to build a community around our CSA, but people started commenting from around the world,” Jason Oatis said. “We’re really sharing on a global level.”

-- Suzanne Stanard


Dig deeper:
Debbie Roos’ “Growing Small Farms” Web site
 Growing Small Farms on Twitter
Debbie Roos’ Facebook Page
Edible Earthscapes blog
Fickle Creek Farm Facebook fan page
Small Farm Central
Harland’s Creek Farm Small Farm Central Site