Recently, I suggested in a Facebook post that farmers should take their cameras to work this time of the year. I meant it. Usually, your farm looks its best during the growing season, not in mid-winter when you might actually have the time to write your farm story.
It is rare that farmers get the opportunity to level the playing field with industrial-scale food businesses. However, as I described in a previous post, you have the chance to do that by making local purchases an “act of affection“. Many consumers are motivated to buy local, but they may not take the extra step until they know a farmer’s ‘story’. And people do like to know about farmers! Last fall, I posted an announcement on Maryland FarmLINK “Farm Forum” that Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Project had posted You Tube videos of beginning farmers and 1,382 people clicked on the link! Imagine how many clicks we would have gotten had they been Maryland beginning farmers.
Farm-to-table farmers are some of the few remaining independent farmers. They make their living off the land with a will and time-tempered, rugged optimism that things will work out and next year will be better. Those of us who watch on the sidelines admire their patience, their stewardship and their determination to turn soil, sun, water and seeds into vegetables, fruits and meats. We want to know our farmers and how they grow things.
I know many farmers will agree that telling their farm stories is important, but are worried that they lack the photography and writing skills. Since we are focusing on taking the photographs first, I searched the web for suggestions on use of the camera. Pauline Rook, photographer for Farmers Weekly, provides suggestions for farmers in Tim Relf’s Top 10 tips for farm photography. FarmNWife blog author is her own photographer as well and she has 5 Tips for Flattering Farm Photos. These are just two of many suggestions that came from my google search “how to take good farm photos”. If you have a good camera, you can train its operator!
As another option, you might have an amateur or professional photographer in your family or circle of friends. However, not everybody with a fancy camera will know how to take the right photo in the right setting, so you might need to work with them.
More importantly, you need to be sure that your stewardship matches your stories. Nothing hurts marketing more than when customers learn that your management practices do not match your promises. Transparency and a reliable message are key to marketing and farm success. Make your story personal and make it real. University of Maryland Extension and SMADC hold social media workshops periodically. Watch for them on Maryland FarmLINK’s “Workshops and Events” page. The workshops can help you to get your message across.
There is no time like today to get started. So dust off that camera and take it to work!