October 22, 2012
Great Ideas Keep Croppin’ UpBy Cyndie Sirekis
Farm Bureau members and staff from around the country gathered to network and exchange ideas for agricultural promotion and education outreach earlier this fall. A key piece of advice they were given was to think more about establishing relationships with people outside of agriculture.
Many Farm Bureau members are already doing just that, in ways that could be applicable – and might just start cropping up – all across the country. A few key examples are highlighted below.
Pulling the plug on boring bus ads. Metro buses in the cities and suburbs surrounding Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota sported an unusual series of advertisements recently. “Farmers Care About Animals · Environment · Food · Families – Committed to Agriculture While Respecting the Earth” was the message featured on 49 buses operating in the urban metro area.
Combining fitness and farming. Nearly 1,000 participants converged on Colorado’s High Plains in September for an end of cycling season ride to benefit the Denver Post Community Foundation as well as Future Farmers of America, 4-H and Rural Solutions. Colorado Farm Bureau coordinated several agriculture-related stops along the route, giving riders the opportunity to spend time on working farms and forge connections with farmers and ranchers.
Public spaces honoring agriculture’s heritage. The Agriculture Pavilion and “Quest for the Golden Apple” program at Julia Davis Park in downtown Boise, Idaho, are tributes to agriculture in the state. Honoring the many families who produce agricultural products in this way encourages visitors to take a break from urban “hustle and bustle” and reflect on where food and fiber come from.
Unvarnished peeks into a farm family’s life. Val Wagner, a North Dakota Farm Bureau member, writes the popular Wag‘n Tales blog, which features stories about life on her family farm and ranch. Why she and her young family do certain things on the farm, especially when it comes to raising livestock, are the entertaining subjects of many posts. But it’s her unvarnished, slice-of-life commentaries – on what it’s really like to run a business with your husband, be the lone female in a house of boys and wade through a mountain of other challenges most non-farmers can’t even imagine – that keep readers coming back for more.
Cyndie Sirekis is director of news services at the American Farm Bureau Federation.