Small, independent farms in America do so much to make a positive change in the way that our food is raised, produced, and consumed. Their stories and messages are unbelievably important, and deserve to be heard by the masses. However, many farms and organizations that support them, like Fair Food Philly, , face a number of challenges that hinder their ability to spread their message and tell their stories. Through our work with Beautiful Social and Nolan Thevenet, founder of Stryker Farm, we have witnessed these challenges firsthand.
During our visit to Stryker Farm, we discovered how much social media can help small farms. While at the farm, we took photos to post to the Beautiful Social Instagram page. While doing so, we also wanted to tag the farm in the photo, but Nolan was convinced he did not have an Instagram page for the farm. We had found an Instagram page under the name of Stryker Farm that had a small following base but no posts. This is when Nolan remembered that he created one on a computer before noticing that you need a smartphone to regularly update the account, something that he did not have. It is social media platforms like this that can help farmers tremendously. These platforms are almost necessary for farms, or any business for that matter, to promote themselves to the public.
Most farms and organizations, like Stryker Farm and Fair Food, have a strong message that they want to spread to their consumers. If small farms lack certain social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, they are at a disadvantage if they want to to create professional content to broadcast and spread their message to their desired audience. Sara, a Fair Food worker, said that she has a difficult time using this generation’s popular technology to inform the public of what they do as an organization and why it is important. She has previously felt very displeased and melancholy about the fact that their lack of professional communications equipment prevents them from creating professional content for their social media platforms. This then starts to create a distinct separation between Nolan’s farm and other farms with a prominent use of social media pages.
As we spoke to Nolan, we discovered that one of his biggest struggles in running Stryker Farms relates to how he independently manages the business on his own time. Nolan expressed how rewarding it is to deliver his products to customers firsthand, however it becomes increasingly difficult for him to travel far and allocate equal time to care for his livestock. In addition to this, Nolan also has to keep track of customers that arrive to purchase things like meat, milk, and other dairy products. When considering Nolan’s constant involvement in Stryker Farms, it seems as though he has to sacrifice one task in order to sustain another. Nolan has his mother to help him take care of the animals and the store when he is responsible for overnight deliveries, but time management is still difficult to maintain between two people. On top of this, an extra staff member becomes a luxury to Nolan and his mother due to the inconsistencies that comes with managing an extra set of hands. With that being said, Nolan sees social media marketing as just another task that would be added to his long list of things to do. Despite their lack of time, we discovered that it is extremely important for small farms to set aside time to produce social media pages and content to put within them. Creating a social media page takes very little time and is also free, so it would not be as difficult to create as Nolan might think. Although they are easy to create, we understand the social media platforms take time to keep up with and manage, but we think that it should become a priority for small time farmers to participate in. We came across this video that we believe accurately explains this idea, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsz83uh-1Dc. Fair Food comes into play for networking with customers, and with the help of Beautiful Social, we can only hope to contribute to the growth and success of Nolan’s business through suggesting the importance of social media to him.