COLUMNISTS

The Planted Row: A felfie is worth a thousand words

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Farm Forum

In a recent column, I asked you to take a little time to share your story with others so they can better understand agricultural life. There are many ways you can do this, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time to do it. A recent trend in social media gives you the perfect opportunity to share a piece of your life with others, and it takes only seconds.

If you have an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account, then you probably know what a “selfie” is. For those of you too busy working to stay on top of the latest social media trends, a selfie is photo you take of yourself, and it is often posted to your favorite form of social media.

Farmers in Great Britain started a new trend when they began posting pictures of themselves on their farms. These pictures are called “felfies” ( a combination of “farmer” and “selfie”). It didn’t take long for this trend to be adopted, and now farmers all over the world are posting felfies on social media sites. Many post pictures of themselves with their farm animals, and some post pictures taken in their tractors.

I think this is a great way to let people have a quick glimpse into what everyday life is like on a farm, and it takes almost no time to participate. The Farm Forum is doing its part to help share these images, and we have placed a feed on our website that is constantly updated with any image posted to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag “#felfie”. (If you want to know what a hashtag is, ask someone under the age of 25.) So if you want your picture shown on the Farm Forum webpage, just snap a shot of yourself on the farm and post it to Instagram or Twitter and include “#felfie” in the accompanying message. I hope you decide to join in the fun; let’s show the world what farming looks like in the Northern Plains!

Adjust 2015

Last weekend I visited the Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society Winter Conference in Aberdeen, and I heard an interesting presentation by John Mesko called Stories from the Field. Mesko is the executive director of the Sustainable Farming Association, and he’s working on a project called Adjust 2015. His organization is collecting paid surveys and interviews from new farmers, and analyzing that information to develop a curriculum called New Farm Reality Check to be used by beginning farmer programs.

In his presentation, he shared some of the preliminary information gathered from approximately 150 surveys and interviews so far.

• 1/3 of respondents had no formal agricultural training.

• By their own admission, a majority were not adequately prepared for the challenges posed by running a farm.

• 63% did not have a formal business plan.

• Of those that had a business plan, 75% said it didn’t accurately predict their farming experience. (One respondent said, “I call it my business plan fairytale.”)

• 69% were not satisfied with their farming income.

I think this type of data gathering provides an excellent resource to create tools to help beginning farmers become successful. As Mesko said, “We have to make sure we decouple the dreams from the reality.”

To learn more about the Adjust 2015 program, read some more preliminary results of the surveys, or take the survey yourself, visit www.sfa-mn.org/adjust2015.

Aloha

This weekend, my wife and I will take our first real vacation without the kids in 10 years of marriage. We’re going to Maui, and my father, Stanley Wise Jr., will be watching the children. If you happen to meet him while I’m gone (he likes to introduce himself to people, especially farmers), please wish him and my kids luck!

I’ll be gone for almost two weeks, so this will be my last column until the Feb. 21 edition. Until then, the Farm Forum will be in the experienced and capable hands of Connie Sieh Groop. She knows what she’s doing, but you can wish her luck, anyway.