AgChat.org. Their mission is to "Empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms." My friend Rachel Brown, Lindsey Ferrier, and myself were invited to be panelists for a question and answer session based on our status of "mommy bloggers".
The conference was set in Nashville, Tennessee, but the attendees were from all over the United States and Canada. These farmers and ranchers are finding their "voice" in a technology driven world, and have a desire to be heard. Farmers and Ranchers make up 1.5% of the population. They want to hear from the rest of us, from me; where we get our information, what we know about farming, and how they can reach the blogging and online community to share their stories. Here I was, in a room with about 150 of them, and to be honest, I felt like I pretty much represented the ignorant citizen. I don't say that in a bad way, because I also represented the person eager to learn, and one that wants to connect with them and pass on what I learn to others like myself.
So many of them had questions about what they could do to be heard, how they could get their voice out there. I think a few felt defensive, because for years media has had its say in "what goes on" and they feel like there is a lot of catching up to do. I hated to say "be patient, it's working", but it's so true! Just the fact that this organization exists is huge. I did a quick google search of "tweet your local farmer", and numerous news articles came up. Your words are getting out there, you are being heard. It was all so exciting to me to know that technology is reaching as far as it is.
If I could say one thing to those I met this week, it's to know you are heading in the right direction. The speed of social media and word-of-mouth, is exponential. You will "catch up" quicker than you ever imagined. Keep learning, keep sharing, keep posting, keep tweeting. We are out here wanting to learn and the number of "us" is growing. We are realizing that it is our responsibility to know what we are putting into our bodies, and why. We aren't just taking "yes" or "no" for an answer anymore, and we are looking for truth. Thank you for caring enough to speak. Thank you for doing the dirty work for the 98.5% of us. Thank you for sticking with it for generations and generations. What a pleasure it was to spend this short time with you, and feel free to keep in touch! I want to pass on your websites, facebook pages, blogs, tweets, and stories to others that I know. I also hope to run into some of you again and get a chance to see your farms, and learn about what you do. It was really humbling for me to be in there with you all, and though I didn't have much time then, we can always connect right here. Ag is Life!