Un­der the Mikero­scope

Telling the hor­ti­cul­ture story

NZ Grower - - CONTENTS - Mike Chap­man | Chief Ex­ec­u­tive | Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand

Even be­fore that, we were fronting to me­dia ex­plain­ing the in­creased prices for veg­eta­bles due to ex­tremely poor win­ter weather, the dif­fer­ence be­tween the sea­sons for veg­etable sup­ply and the need to pro­tect high qual­ity land for grow­ing pro­duce. It has be­come ap­par­ent that we need to tell our story far and wide, be­cause not every­one un­der­stands how fruit and veg­eta­bles get from the grower to their (non-plas­tic) shop­ping bag. It is how­ever, a jour­ney they are in­ter­ested in.

Over the past 16 years New Zealand has lost nearly 6,000 hectares of veg­etable grow­ing land and nearly 4,000 hectares of fruit grow­ing land. For this rea­son, in the Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand elec­tion man­i­festo we asked the next gov­ern­ment to de­velop a food se­cu­rity pol­icy, aimed at pro­tect­ing re­main­ing prime grow­ing land from ur­ban de­vel­op­ment. As the pub­lic buys into more houses spread­ing out­wards rather than up­wards, they don’t nec­es­sar­ily know that a down­stream ef­fect of that might be less lo­cally grown food.

In our man­i­festo we ex­plained that grow­ing land tends to be close to ur­ban ar­eas, and that we have pock­ets of land rare in the world, where soil and cli­mate al­low year-round grow­ing of leafy green veg­eta­bles.

We ex­plained that as a coun­try we need to pro­tect this and other high qual­ity land for af­ford­able, year-round food pro­duc­tion to feed New Zealand.

We have man­aged to start a wider pub­lic dis­cus­sion about food se­cu­rity in the main­stream me­dia – TV, news­pa­per and ra­dio – a dis­cus­sion that is grow­ing mo­men­tum. We will be tak­ing this dis­cus­sion to the new gov­ern­ment.

Our cam­paign for a food se­cu­rity pol­icy has cre­ated this av­enue to ex­plain to the New Zealand pub­lic the im­por­tance of hor­ti­cul­ture and to bet­ter ed­u­cate ur­ban New Zealand about what we do and why it is im­por­tant to their healthy eat­ing.

In ad­di­tion to main­stream me­dia, we are also fo­cused on us­ing so­cial me­dia to con­nect with a wider au­di­ence. This in­cludes our new In­sta­gram page Grow­ers of New Zealand (@grow­er­sofnz). Each week a grower is pro­filed pro­duc­ing their sea­sonal crop and, later in the week, their crop is high­lighted in a recipe. In­sta­gram is re­ally vis­ual, which is per­fect for healthy food. We pro­mote what is in sea­son and there­fore read­ily avail­able and af­ford­able, and we en­cour­age peo­ple to in­tro­duce more va­ri­ety in their diet.

In­sta­gram is the pre­ferred so­cial me­dia for foodies, trav­el­ers and food in­flu­encers, which are new au­di­ences for us to tell our story to. As we in­creas­ingly fo­cus on the ‘so­cial li­cence to grow’, that is, buy-in from ur­ban New Zealand and be­yond that grow­ers are work­ing sus­tain­ably and eth­i­cally, we need to be telling our story to a wider au­di­ence.

We are also ac­tive with our tweet­ing and blogs and have suc­cess­fully used Face­book for our Coun­try of Ori­gin La­belling cam­paign.

By us­ing all forms of me­dia to re­peat our mes­sages and tell our story, we are reach­ing more ur­ban New Zealan­ders, and peo­ple around the world, and a wider age range and so­cial de­mo­graphic than pre­vi­ously. The pickup and in­ter­est that is gen­er­ated can be sig­nif­i­cant. For ex­am­ple, dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, 1,198 peo­ple read a blog on the pro­posed wa­ter tax on just one of our so­cial me­dia plat­forms. It was sent to nearly 10,000 peo­ple across all our so­cial me­dia.

In the past year-and-a-half we have gen­er­ated more than 100 blogs aimed at ex­plain­ing hor­ti­cul­ture and link­ing us with ur­ban dwellers.

We have a great story to tell and over the com­ing months we will be in­creas­ing the strate­gies and tac­tics we are us­ing to reach ur­ban New Zealand and en­gage with the new gov­ern­ment. We are pro­duc­ing what they want, we just need to make sure they know it.

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