Farm & Food Care seeking farmers to be part of newest public outreach initiative
By Lilian Schaer
December 27, 2018 - Guelph – Farm & Food Care Ontario is looking for Ontario farmers willing to participate in a social media-based public outreach activity in 2019.
For years, its Real Dirt on Farming publication has been the basis for public outreach activities by Farm & Food Care Ontario, its sister group in Saskatchewan, and their predecessor, legacy organizations Ontario Farm Animal Council, AgCare and Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan.
They’ve had success with everything from food influencer farm tours and farmer media training to a speaker’s bureau and Twitter parties.
But the hunt is always on to find new ways to interest Canadians in the real story of food and farming in this country, ways that are social media friendly, reasonably low cost and resonate with the intended audience.
A tall order, but one that the latest Farm & Food Care Ontario initiative might be able to fill – the Real Dirt Road Trip.
It involves Farm & Food Care staffers visiting Ontario farmers and interviewing them on camera about their farm, and what they produce and how. Before the visit, social media followers are asked to submit the questions they’d like to see answered by the farmer during the visit.
The finished products are then posted on YouTube and shared on all of Farm & Food Care’s social media channels – including to over 13,000 Twitter followers.
“Real Dirt on Farming has been super successful and we want to use it and make it more interactive for people,” said Communications Coordinator Christine Wilkinson.
The videos aren’t live-streamed – unreliable rural internet speeds can make that challenging – but the final, edited product, which is shot using just a phone and a tripod, is intentionally meant to be what Wilkinson calls “raw and real.”
The goal of the project, which aims to complete eight videos in the coming year, is to give Canadians an opportunity to observe day-to-day activities on Ontario farms. Letting social media followers submit questions helps shape the conversation between staff filming the video and the farmer being interviewed.
“We do a lot of outreach activities where we do cover off certain types of farming more than others – we’ve hosted several Breakfast on the Farm events at dairy or beef farms, for example,” said Communications Coordinator Madeline Rodrigue.
Two videos have been completed to date, with the most recent one released just before Christmas featuring Jeffrey’s Greenhouses, a Niagara region pointsettia grower. The first video took the Farm & Food Care team to Froese Vegetables Inc., a pickling cucumber grower.
A third video featuring sunflower oil production is in the works, and Farm & Food Care Ontario is looking for additional farms and types of farming to profile in 2019.
“We offer farm tours for food influencers and dietitians, but here, we just want to have a real conversation with farmers involving consumer questions that is accessible to everybody,” Wilkinson said, adding participants and the relevant commodity organization are allowed to review and approve the video before its release to ensure accuracy.
The Real Dirt Road Trip videos complement Farm & Food Care Ontario’s more polished, comprehensive series of farm and food processing tour videos available on its www.FarmFood360.ca website.