With each passing year, change seems to happen at a more rapid pace. Technology has given us conveniences that were unimaginable only a few years ago. The way we communicate has also changed. Email, Facebook, Twitter, et al. have allowed people to stay in touch with family and friends, whether it’s across the room or across the globe.
Social networks give users an opportunity to learn about the livelihood and careers of people who provide products, services and resources. For instance, we are all affected by farmers and the food they grow.
The Illinois Farm Bureau publishes a weekly newspaper titled FarmWeek that is mailed directly to its members who have a financial interest in farming. During the growing season, approximately 30 Illinois farmers, called CropWatchers, report on their farm activities from their specific areas of Illinois. A favorite section of FarmWeek readers, the report summarizes their local weather, insect infestations, planting and harvesting progress. Jake Streitmatter of rural Princeville in Peoria County; Tim Green of rural Wyoming in Stark County and Brian Schaumburg of rural Chenoa in McLean County are three local CropWatchers.
Illinois farm families have taken this concept—farmers starting conversations about their farms—and applied it to building new relationships with consumers. Illinois farm families are now bloggers on a new website, WatchUsGrow.org.
Launching on July 5th will be a “Free Groceries for a Year!” sweepstakes at FarmersFeedUS.org. Upon visiting the site, consumers register by “meeting an Illinois farmer” through a short video that shows how they produce safe, nutritious and affordable food. Consumers can register with each of the five featured farmers daily through October 2nd, which is the end of the 90-day program.
The Farmers Feed US website features beef, corn, dairy, hog and soybean farmers sharing information about their farms and families. In addition to guiding visitors through their registration for free groceries, each farmer offers a brief online tour of his or her farm. The Illinois Farm Bureau staff took the video of these farm families on their farms in May during the busy spring planting season and posted it to the website.
Farmers featured include: Deb and Ron Moore, soybean farmers from Roseville, which is west of Peoria on Route 116; Brent and Kathy Scholl, pork farmers from Polo, just north of Dixon in northern Illinois; Dale and Linda Drendel, dairy farmers from Hampshire on the western fringes of the Chicago suburbs in Kane County; Mike and Lynn Martz, beef farmers from Maple Park in Kane County; and Steve and Elizabeth Ruth, corn farmers from Sugar Grove in Kane County.
Over the course of the 90-day campaign, consumers from throughout the state will see and hear from these farmers as they are featured in television and radio advertising and on Facebook (facebook.com/ilfarmfamilies) and Twitter (twitter.com/ilfarmfamilies).
More and more farmers in Illinois and the country are taking the time to share on social networks what they produce, how they care for their animals, and the efforts they take to keep the air we breathe and the water we drink clean. This gives everyone a chance to connect to agriculture and learn directly from a farmer about how food makes it from their land to your dinner plate.
I hope you and your family will have an opportunity to go online and check out both WatchUsGrow.org and FarmersFeedUS.org. You will learn about the passion that farmers have for farming as a career, and you could also have a chance to win groceries for a year, valued at $5,000. iBi