Everyone in the farm business is aware that a growing segment of the public is concerned with the direction of our food system. Among other things, they feel, justifiably or not, that our system for growing food lacks transparency, is too far removed from consumers, and that it fails to protect the environment.
While most farmers are serious about their roles as stewards of the land and with producing healthy, good quality food, only a few are taking advantage of the opportunities modern technology gives them to connect with consumers. Newer farming technologies, such as hydroponic sprouting systems, are not only economical and smart for business, but can also have a powerful emotional resonance with consumers.
It’s interesting to go on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media portals to see how many farms have begun to interact with the public. It doesn’t take much to throw open your “virtual doors” and give consumers and insight into your day-to-day activities. Most of us have some kind of rural heritage and on some level have a strong desire to reconnect with that part of our past. Small things that may seem mundane to you such as a freshly plowed field, a new litter of piglets or milking time can be of deep interest to someone living in the city or suburbs and it doesn’t take a lot of time to snap a photo and upload it to social media.
Paul Fonder is an organic dairyman in South Dakota who does an excellent job capturing to social media all the great little things about farming that the public loves to see:
— Paul Fonder (@OrganicDairyman) December 28, 2014
The public is bombarded with negative information from social media savvy animal rights groups who spotlight the bad apples to smear the entire industry. There is a hunger for positive information about our food production system. It’s time to push back.
Ok, that’s all very well, you say, but where do fodder systems fit into all of this?
A fodder system is a new, and better way of doing things that is social media friendly in that it is visual and easily understood, readily perceived as healthier for the animals – pictures of cows, horses, pigs, chickens, etc happily munching on green fodder is emotionally impactful, and clearly has a smaller, more responsible environmental impact.
While it can be difficult to visually represent reduced use of fertilizer or integrated pest management, a photo of a fodder system brimming with fresh, green feed is a picture which paints a thousand words. Fodder is grown without pesticides or fertilizers, consumes very little water and requires less grazing areas. It produces less manure, better products and healthier, happier livestock.
You may be an organic or grass fed producer, a small farm selling selling meat, cheese, milk or eggs direct to a local market, or even a very large farm, but incorporating sprouted fodder production into your operations should be seen not only as a better and more profitable way of farming, but also as a tool to engage the public and instill confidence that you are on the cutting edge of healthier, more humane and environmentally responsible farming practices.