A southern Ontario farmer has completed his self-assigned task of tweeting a photo of his dairy and grain operation every day in 2015, all in an effort to educate people about what farmers do on a daily basis.
Andrew Campbell actually started the 365-day day project Dec. 31, 2014 when a what he called "a New Year's calf" was born.
"I wanted to challenge myself, giving consumers a sense of what is going on, on a dairy and grain farm. It seemed like a good fit between what I enjoy doing and what I thought was an important job to do," he said of photography and farming.
"On Jan. 1, there seemed to be quite a bit of pressure all of a sudden," he said.
Campbell tweeted from the handle @FreshAirFarmer. He had nearly 7,000 followers at the beginning of the year. He now has 17,700.
"I've had some pretty fascinating conversations with people in agriculture … and also with consumers, who I hoped would be interested, and were actually interested," Campbell said.
Campbell said farmers across North America and from Europe started following and chiming in on the project.
So did animal rights activists.
"I didn't expect the global volume from what seemed like every animal rights activist," he said. "One of the points was to show people, 'ok, if you want to make that decision, that's fine. I'm quite happy to show off how we raise those animals in what we think is a very humane way.'"
"It was a difference in values," Campbell said. "But it was clear right from the beginning a certain number of folks had made up their minds in terms of values and weren't interested in having a conversation."
Campbell said interacting with kids and elementary classes online was fun.
"The kids would tweet questions back; cute and hilarious and a neat feeling all that same time," he said.
Questions from kids included:
- Do I weigh more than a calf?
- Do cows sleep with their eyes closed?
- Do they have fun when they play in the grass?
Those who followed got a pictorial insight into farming, even got to see cows grow up — sort of.
This is his most-liked photo of the year, a mother and her calf.
He ended the campaign with a pic of the final milk pickup of the year.
While some, like animal rights activists, took issue with Campbell's project, others praised it.