Young dairy farmer takes to Twitter to share family farming stories

This is not about raw milk or organic agriculture or ant-GMO, it’s about a seemingly fresh and successful new voice for conventional agriculture. From the London Free Press:

“Bill Cosby, the embattled American comedian whose tour hits Southwestern Ontario this week, has more than four million Twitter followers, but follows only six people himself. For the Coz, it’s a one-way street on the social media network.

Andrew Campbell, a London-area dairy farmer, had 12,300 followers on Twitter at last count. Astoundingly, he’s been picking up hundreds of new ones daily. Truly social, he also follows more than 2,400 people.

Both Cosby and Campbell have been in the news lately, but it’s no contest who is the more interesting.

It’s the tweeting farmer, hands down. Indeed, Campbell may just turn out to be the best public relations for Ontario agriculture in years.

Starting Jan. 1, the 29-year-old began a novel campaign to send out a tweet, or Twitter message, and a photograph every day of 2015 from his family’s dairy farm near Strathroy. He uses the Twitter handle @FreshAirFarmer and the hashtag #farm365.

He could not have planned his campaign launch better: A newborn calf arrived at 1:40 a.m. New Year’s Day. One minute, there was the photo of the cow nuzzling her newborn. The next, the Twitpic was boomeranging around cyberspace, retweeted, or retransmitted, by many of Campbell’s followers to their own followers, and so on and so on.

And that’s the point of Campbell’s exercise.

Agriculture is one of Ontario’s biggest industries, with more than 50,000 farms, but most of us — even in Southwestern Ontario, one of Canada’s richest farm belts — are woefully ignorant of it. Campbell is out to educate people, one tweet at a time.

“I think we, as farmers, can have a role in helping people better understand what’s in their food and where their food is coming from and what it takes to produce it,” he told the London Free Press.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen producers take charge of their own PR. The Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s wildy successful milk calendar, loaded with recipes, is a good example. So is Farm and Food Care Ontario’s Faces of Farming calendar, with its simple images of ordinary men and women who make a living off the land.

But Campbell’s solo project is different.

Whether you count only its active users, or everyone with an account, Twitter has the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people.

The world may not be fascinated that Campbell’s barn relies on 36 fresh air vents and four exhaust fans, as he tweeted this week. Or, that he gets up daily at 4:45 a.m. to do chores, which you can see from the photo of his old-school alarm clock. But you can bet that his year-in-the-life-of-a-farm project will bring eye-openers to many who are interested….”

More on The London Free Press

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