”Meet Your Farmer” videos designed to educate consumers
By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
The New York Farm Bureau (NYFB) Foundation for Agricultural Education is teaching consumers through an online video series.
The “Meet Your Farmer” video series profiles farmers from around New York. The videos include information about the farm operations and their history.
Consumer curiosity led to the creation of the project, said Sandra Prokop, managing director of the NYFB Foundation for Agricultural Education. She is also a dairy farmer from Schoharie County, NY.
“We deal with a lot of consumers and there’s always questions about where their food comes from,” she told Farms.com. “We really wanted to connect the consumers with the farmers that produce the food that’s on their tables.
“The goal is to bring a wider depth of vision of agriculture to citizens everywhere, not just in New York.”
One surprising element for consumers, according to Prokop, revolved around farm ownership.
“Some of them were very surprised to learn these are family farms,” she said. “These are local farmers who are very concerned with their communities, what they’re doing and the way they’re doing it.”
The videos also aim to highlight the vast amount of career opportunities available in agriculture, Prokop said.
And being a part of the videos is just as important as what the consumers learn from them, according to some of the farmers involved.
“It’s so important that the farm community gets out there and tells their stories so everyone knows where food comes from,” Gary Orbaker, owner of Orbaker’s Fruit Farm, a 420-acre apple, peach and cherry farm in Wayne County, NY, told Farms.com.
Orbaker pointed out four specific elements he hopes viewers will take away from the video profiles.
“First of all, I hope they take away that the farming community is stewards of the land,” he said. “Secondly, I hope they respect the work the farm’s employees do. Thirdly, I hope they appreciate something grown in the country where they live, and (fourthly, that they) realize farmers have a lot of challenges competing with the world market.”
When a farmer’s product ends up at the grocery store, their farm’s name might be on the packaging.
Consumers will see that name and, through this project, be able to put a face to the food they’re enjoying.
And strengthening that connection with consumers played a factor in at least one farm’s decision to participate in the project.
“Our trucks are driving on the road and we farm around our neighbors,” Nate Hartway, financial and environmental compliance manager with McCormick Farms, an 8,000-acre potato and dairy farm in Wyoming County, NY, told Farms.com. “We like transparency and, the more the public can relate to farmers, it helps us become better neighbors.”
Currently, three farms are featured in the video series, with more planned for September. NYFB hopes the project, which has no firm end date, will feature one producer representing each commodity.