Hayden Fox grows cash crops and hay near Cayuga
By Diego Flammini
The reaction to a TikTok post about food expiration dates let Hayden Fox know he was onto something.
“It absolutely blew up,” he told Farms.com. “I was telling people not to throw out food. I thought everyone knew about expiration dates on food but apparently not. I had different organizations reach out to me wanting to talk with me more about this.”
The post from March 2021 starts with a man saying if food has an expiration date, he isn’t going to consume the item after that date passes.
Fox then appears on screen to tell the original poster and other viewers that “as a farmer, I don’t appreciate you throwing the food out” and “expiration dates on your package just indicate peak freshness.”
As of June 2022, the 25-year-old fourth-generation cash crop and hay producer from near Cayuga, Ont. has amassed almost 2 million followers and nearly 41 million likes on his TikTok account. He’s also active on Instagram.
His social media posts include sharing the cost of buying seed corn, sharing his daily life on the farm, answering viewer questions and retelling experiences he has with customers.
In fact, one such interaction is what led to Fox getting started with TikTok.
“I was delivering straw, and a lady kept calling it hay,” he said. “I thought that was hilarious and needed to tell everyone.”
And while funny, that situation is proof why accounts like Fox’s and others are important in agriculture.
People are disconnected from farming, and sharing what happens on his family’s farm helps close that gap, Fox said.
“I do want people who visit my channel to walk away learning something about farming and where food comes from,” he said. “When someone can put a face to where their food comes from, I think they can relate to it more because they see that someone like them is helping produce their food.”
His account also details some experiences he has as a gay farmer, like someone removing a Pride flag from his barn.
Fox’s response to that was to post another video of himself putting a new flag at the top of his family’s 120-foot grain elevator.
Visitors to Fox’s social media accounts will notice a less than serious approach to his videos.
And that’s by design.
Educating is easier when it’s entertaining, he says, and encourages other farmers who want to share their stories to take the same approach.
“Don’t be afraid to tell your farm’s story,” the Ontario Agricultural College graduate said. “But you have to balance telling the truth without coming across as lecturing. I don’t want people to feel like I’m shoving the information down their throats. Some of the people who visit my pages maybe have never been to a farm and genuinely don’t know about farming. I want them to feel comfortable with me while also having confidence in what I share with them.”
Fox is using his creativity to work on another project.
He’s in the process of publishing a children’s book.
“It’s based off one of my first viral TikToks,” he said. “It’s about this crazy horse girl who wants to come buy hay. It’s a scene that would actually play out on a farm, but told through a children’s book.”
And using that medium also helps Fox achieve his goal of educating.
“If we’re able to show a kid where food comes from or how farming works at an early age, then maybe it’s not so foreign to them when they grow up,” he said.
Fox hopes his book will be out by the end of summer 2023.