Alias: Will the Farmer, #WTF
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canola Eat Well.
Name 5 interesting facts about yourself.
I love surfing and do a lot of it even though I’m in one of the most landlocked places on the continent, the furthest from the ocean. We happen to have a big lake, Lake Winnipeg, and it gets large enough waves from the storms.
Winnipeg Jets are a big thing, especially this year. We made the playoffs and were at the top of the league, I think they were #2.
I’m a huge metalhead, love my metal. My favourite would probably be August Burns Red. I’m also into Blessthefall and We Came As Romans.
I was in a rock band that travelled across Canada. It was called Hunderdfold.
When I was in my band, we were asked to go on tour with a not-for-profit that was doing motivational speaking in high schools called Live Different. Since then, I am now on the Board of Directors for Live Different which still does motivational speaking across the country, but we also do humanitarian aid builds in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico. We’re working with lots of people to construct homes and schools. We’re also working to get a women’s shelter up and running in Haiti right now.
Rank in preference/importance the social networks you use (IG Stories, IG (Normal Feed), FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat etc)
(Tie for #1) IG Stories & IG Feed, #2. Twitter, #3. Facebook, #4. Snapchat
How do you use social media in your day-to-day farming activities? Why?
I use the Instagram feed and Instagram Stories almost equally but I definitely use them in different ways. I use my Stories for much more of a feel of who Will the Farmer is, what day-to-day on the farm is like and other educational parts of these things. I use this pretty casually while also telling stories.
For my feed, I curate it a lot more and put much more than just farm content on it. The feed has more about what I’m into or what I’m passionate about.
I use Twitter as much more of a communications forum with other farmers and people who are like-minded with me, or in the same industry at least.
I still use Facebook quite a bit but I tailor that more to an older audience and I don’t use it quite as frequently. I guess I’ve been doubling up my Insta-feed on Facebook but I generally try to post different things on all three of the platforms, more tailored to the audience that uses them the most.
I am on Snapchat but I don’t use it really, it has gone by the wayside for me. Instagram Stories are much more useful.
How much has social media changed or improved your life as a farmer?
It has absolutely, completely changed my life as a farmer because it has connected me to so many people. I would not have had the opportunities that I have without social media. It has allowed me to share my platform of agriculture, farming, who the modern-day farmer is but it has also changed my opinions along the way. It has allowed me to learn from other people and understand different points of view in different ways.
My biggest example of this is that I come from a conventional farm and in getting connected with the food industry in Winnipeg, I started doing organic vegetable gardens. There’s often so much of a fight, organic vs. conventional, because everyone wants to be right or have their side proven and there really isn’t so much of a right or wrong choice. It takes all kinds of methods and people to produce healthy, nutritious, affordable food for everyone.
I want to support agriculture as a whole and with the opportunities that social media has brought to me, I’ve been able to have more conversations, learn from more people and share both sides of the story to promote agriculture and build everyone up.
What are some positive or powerful ways other farmers could use social media?
Everyone has a story to tell and farmers have a really cool platform to start off with because everyone has at least one thing in common which is that they eat. They all share eating in common and as farmers, we are growing that food that people are eating. So, we have this thing in common, we have the platform and now we have the opportunities to share our stories, our food and food production.
Our stories can be different, that’s totally fine. I understand that, often on social media, people only put their best foot forward all the time, only the good things, but part of sharing our stories is also sharing our struggles and harder things. In farming, there are a lot of really great things and it’s really beautiful, people can romanticize it, but there are also a lot of hardships and hard work that go into it. Farmers should get on social media more and share those moments as well.
By having a platform, sharing stories and talking about things that are important to farmers through social media, people connect with us because of the connection we have with food and it doesn’t take very long before these stories and facts get to a political level. You’re then influencing what policies look like, especially when you’re somewhere like in the prairies.
Technology is awesome and even though it’s commonly adopted faster by urban populations and it took a long time for farmers to get onto these platforms, the most common platform that farmers use now is Twitter. This is because it makes for a cool tool to share ideas and learn from each other. They just need to get out of using a singular tool, get out of their comfort zones when talking to our own industry people. Take a step and put yourselves out there.
We’ve talked about farmers connecting with others. What would be the best way for anyone outside of the farming or agriculture space to connect with a farmer?
The easiest way to connect with a farmer in wanting to learn more about your food is to go to a local farmer’s market and find out who is growing it, where and how. After that, I think it’d be quite simple to find and follow these farmers on Twitter or Instagram and really see where their food is coming from.
What’s one thing you’d like to tell readers in regard to food, farming or agriculture?
The food that we grow, the food that is produced in Canada, is produced by real people, by real farmers, real families. It is some of the best and safest food in the world and we should be proud of that. While we can all make choices in what we want to eat, we just need to support all types of agriculture.