By Tommy Enright, Wisconsin Farmers Union Communications Associate
My spouse, Sam, and I started Black Rabbit Farm in 2013 with very little farming experience. We had just moved back to our home state of Wisconsin after living in Seattle, and we were excited to start this new chapter in our lives. As soon as we decided on a farm name, I started a Facebook page so that old friends could follow along with our venture.
This is where the rubber hits the road, in my opinion. Social media is more than just marketing: you are sharing your story with your customers. Sure, our customers can see what products we have available or if we’ll be at the farmers market on Saturday, but they’ve also watched us buy a farm, bring two children into the world, build a greenhouse and a high tunnel, and grow as farmers. They’ve seen us fail and they’ve seen us triumph. This allows people who hardly know you feel personally connected to your farm.
Whether or not they’re interested in sharing stories from their farm, farmers have to remember that they are small business owners; like any other business, farms need to market themselves to succeed. Having a strong social media presence means that your farm is visible, and that often turns into sales. You don’t have to overshare, but it’s helpful to regularly remind people of your existence. Social media is an effective (and free!) way to promote your business.
Our social media presence is paying off. Media – newspapers, blogs, radio – love stories about beginning farmers. We seem to do more interviews, write-ups, and farm tours every year from reporters who “found us on the internet.” Last fall, I received an email from Modern Farmer magazine asking for an interview for their Spring 2017 cover story about raising rabbits. Needless to say, this never would have happened if our farm didn’t have an online presence.
For the first two years of Black Rabbit Farm’s existence, I used to joke that I was better at marketing than farming. I like to think that’s changed now, but it’s worth remembering that while I was making mistakes and learning through trial and error, our visibility online brought in customers who kept our farm afloat.
Tommy Enright is a Communications Associate at Wisconsin Farmers Union. He and his spouse, Samantha, own Black Rabbit Farm in Amherst, Wisconsin, where they grow vegetables, maintain an orchard, and raise pastured poultry.