Grow­ing Their Fol­low­ing

These fam­i­lies har­ness so­cial me­dia to bring their farms to cus­tomers.

Farm & Ranch Living - - CONTENTS - BY JILL GLEE­SON

Brian Scott couldn’t have planned it bet­ter. One Fri­day evening in 2015, on a whim, the fifth-gen­er­a­tion In­di­ana farmer took a video of his son driv­ing a trac­tor.

Matthew was 6 at the time, a lit­tle cu­tie with dark blond curls and a wide smile. He wanted to be a farmer like his dad—and still does. Brian had been us­ing so­cial me­dia to ad­vo­cate for agri­cul­ture for about four years, and he posted the clip on his Face­book page with­out think­ing too much about it. When he woke up on Satur­day morn­ing, his fol­low­ing had more than dou­bled overnight—from 17,000 to 40,000. That lit­tle video of his son had gone viral. “I quit read­ing com­ments that week­end be­cause I couldn’t keep up,” Brian says. “I wasn’t even try­ing to do any­thing spe­cial.” Brian, who raises pop­corn, wheat, corn and soy­beans on 2,300 acres in the north­west part of the state, now counts al­most 60,000 fol­low­ers on his Face­book page. Brian’s blog, The Farmer’s Life, has nearly as many email sub­scribers. Brian also has accounts on In­sta­gram, Twit­ter and YouTube, with thousands more fol­low­ing on each plat­form. Though he and his fa­ther pretty much tend the land alone, save for sea­sonal work­ers, he can keep up on­line be­cause he makes fast work of it. “You don’t have to spend a ton of time on it,” Brian says. “Just snap a pic­ture and write a short ex­pla­na­tion of what you’re do­ing. What’s been amaz­ing to me is that those lit­tle things we do ev­ery day are mind-blow­ing to peo­ple who have never seen them be­fore. Like GPS map­ping, for ex­am­ple, which we use to guide our equip­ment in the fields for bet­ter ac­cu­racy and higher yields. Peo­ple re­ally want to know why: why we do this, or why we don’t do that.” While snap­shots and videos of kids, as Brian dis­cov­ered, can be so­cial-me­dia gold, not ev­ery­one wants to (or can) post them. Mimi Holtz han­dles so­cial me­dia for her fam­ily’s av­o­cado ranch in San Diego County, Cal­i­for­nia. Mimi’s ef­forts, in­clud­ing her Mimi Av­o­cado blog and Twit­ter and Face­book accounts, mar­keted the ranch’s mail-order av­o­cado gift boxes so suc­cess­fully

that de­mand nearly out­stripped pro­duc­tion. Ev­ery­thing in her so­cial me­dia is about farm­ing, not fam­ily. “My chil­dren have told me I am not to ever share a photo of their chil­dren,” Mimi says. “I was told as soon as they were born, ‘They will not be on so­cial me­dia.’ And that’s OK. I un­der­stand that.” Mimi’s hus­band doesn’t even want her us­ing his name on­line— she sim­ply refers to him as “the farmer.” In­stead of fam­ily details, she of­fers recipes, an­swers ques­tions about avo­ca­dos and posts a lot of pic­tures. Thanks to those photos, Mimi now has more than 2,500 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers. “Peo­ple re­ally want to feel that per­sonal con­nec­tion to where their food is grown,” Mimi says. “I show them what it’s like to live in a for­est of av­o­cado trees, and what it’s like in the spring when they bloom and

#fu­ture­farmer: A video of Brian Scott’s son Matthew driv­ing a trac­tor went viral.

#fresh­gar­lic: Bowles Farm­ing Co. posted this pic­ture in Jan­uary of the fer­til­izer ap­pli­ca­tion process for its or­ganic gar­lic crop. Mimi Av­o­cado posted: Av­o­cado trees are bloom­ing, baby avo­ca­dos for next year are ap­pear­ing, and this year’s crop is also...

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