Young farmers using social media to make a tough job look cool
Elie farm markets produce using online tools, wants others in Manitoba to try
Instead of going to check out local produce at the farmers' market or the grocery store, customers can not only see the eggs they'll be eating tomorrow, but the chicken that laid it, too. With a filter and emojis.
"I usually Instagram around 9 a.m. after I do all the chores for the animals, feeding them, making sure their bedding is good, collecting the eggs," said Britt Embry. "Then usually I'll see something on the way that's instagrammable. Then over breakfast I'll choose a filter and then come up with a caption."
Embry owns the small, organic farm Hearts and Roots with her husband, Justin Girard. The three-acre farm is just outside of Elie, Man., but thanks to Embry's social media skills, it's been seen by people across the world.
The act of combining social media with labourious farm work is starting to grow in Manitoba. Embry has handled the farm's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts since they began selling last spring. She said the online tools have helped her introduce new people to their produce.
"It's funny because it's a marketing tool first and foremost, but it's also a labour of love and an outlet," she said. "You can't open your doors all the time to let people see what you do, and a lot of people don't get out to the country that often either. So it's cool to have people see what's going on behind the scenes."
Rooted in living things
Embry said she likes to focus on the Instagram account, which has over 1,900 followers. Many of them are from other provinces and the United States.
"It's awesome to have that community, even if it's online to see what other people are growing in the same climate, what they're doing, how they set up their stands," she said. "Farming can be a little isolating. There's a strong community here, but there's a little bit of competition, so it's different to have people from all over the world in that community."
The couple is going to the Small Farms Conference in Brandon on Saturday, a one-day event that focuses on young and new Manitoba farmers learning from one another. Embry said she'll bring up the social media marketing with other fresh-faced farmers.
"It can be such a boon to your farm," she said. "Even though sometimes when you're so busy, and an hour a day is a lot of time to spend on something like that, it is worth it."
Embry uses her iPhone for all the photos and said the technology doesn't seem out of place in the field.
"Even though the work is grueling and it's so hot and there's mosquitoes, it's also still beautiful," she said. "You're still standing out there among all this living stuff and it's quite something."
Embry's Instagram handle is @heartsandroots.