With an increasing demand for information about food and food products, producers seek various ways to connect with their consumers.
Greg Rinehart, a vegetable farmer from Boone, shared how he engages with consumers at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Des Moines.
“Facebook and Instagram are probably the easiest ways to connect, through your phone. It’s easy to show a picture or share a little thought that way. A lot of times, I’ll take a picture on the farm and am amazed who all sees that,” Rinehart said.
Local farmers markets also present vegetable farmers and others an opportunity to connect, but this time face-to-face.
“The Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market is probably one of the best places to talk to hundreds of people on a Saturday morning, maybe even thousands. We talk to them face-to-face, answer their questions and show them what we grow.”
Rinehart says a consumer’s hat can provide a great conversation starter in a face-to-face setting.
“All of us wear many different hats,” Rinehart said. You just have to find out what hat the people you are talking to connect with. ‘Are they connected with the Chicago Cubs or St. Louis Cardinals?’ They might be wearing a Cardinal’s hat and you might go, ‘They’ve had a rough year this year.’ You can connect with people through what they’re wearing. Or they’ll mention something you’re wear(ing) and start a conversation from that.”
Farmers comprise only two-percent of the United States’ total population. Rinehart says it’s important for farmers to share their story with the large consumer base.
“It’s important for consumers to see our food is produced in a safe, environmentally friendly way. It’s fresh; it’s healthy,” Rinehart said. “It helps us sell our products and also puts a good face on American agriculture.”
As those producers who have yet to share agriculture’s message, Rinehart suggests you relax and be yourself.
“Just be yourself, honest, friendly and kind. The main thing is to just be yourself,” Rinehart said. “Have fun when you visit with people. It’s a good thing to get out there and share about your farming background.”