The Land Newspaper
Ag's Online Promoters
AT THE bottom of any rural related photos being posted on Instagram, you’ll most likely find the hashtag created by friends, Jim Honner and Sam Johnston, #thankafarmerforyournextmeal.
The two started the Thank A Farmer Instagram page back in 2014, originally using it to post photos they’d taken on farm to share with their circle of friends.
Internet users caught on quickly though and before they knew it, the Instagram page had more than 33,000 followers and Jim and Sam were receiving photos from all over rural Australia and different countries to post.
At first, Jim and Sam said they were shocked by the traction the page had received, considering it wasn’t their intention at all.
It didn’t take them long to decide to use their page to advocate agriculture in Australia though, and help close the gap between city and country.
Both the men are from rural backgrounds; Sam, from a sheep and lucerne property in Forbes and Jim, from a Merino and first-cross lamb enterprise in Jugiong.
While they were both studying a degree in Ag economics at the University of Sydney, Sam and Jim recognised that rural Australia was frequently portrayed negatively in the media.
The blurb of the Instagram page explains that every Australian farmer produces enough to feed 600 people, 150 Australians and 450 people overseas – this is the basic idea of the page, to remind people of that.
Using photos to illustrate the happenings of an Australian farm was important to Jim and Sam, as they said some people didn’t realise farmers literally produced the clothes they wore and the food they ate on a daily basis.
Sam said now, posting photos on the Instagram page was about trying to connect the producer with the consumer and allowing people who wouldn’t normally have a connection to agriculture to understand the process through social media.
“A lot of the media on farming is negative, which is really miscommunicated. As the majority of the time they are doing an exceptional job,” he said.
“If a picture tells a thousand words, we try to put up photos that reflect the good in farming to inform the consumer.”
The fact the concept has been built using social media has meant Sam and Jim have been able to easily connect with a young audience.
For them, that was a huge opportunity as they were able to use the internet to generate conversation about agriculture with young people, which to them, is crucial for the industry.
The page has also become a bit of an agricultural news hub for its followers, as Sam and Jim said they tried to make sure the page stayed relevant with what was happening in the industry.
There’s usually between 20 to 30 photos that have been tagged with Jim and Sam’s hashtag to choose from every day.
Jim said when selecting a photo to share, he and Sam would look through users’ photos who have used the Thank A Farmer hashtag and choose a photo that would generate conversation about agriculture.
This can include sharing a harvest photo at harvest time, or a photo of cattle during beef week, but it also means sharing the harsher and unpredictable sides of farming, such as drought and bushfires.
They’ll then use the caption to inform their followers about the photo, helping them to understand agricultural processes.
“We try hard not to create an unrealistic idea of farming, by not only posting the prize sheep or the top of the range, expensive tractors,” Sam said.
“People on the land know not everything is good all the time, and we try to show that to consumers.”
Writing a good caption has always been a crucial step for Sam and Jim, as they said they wanted to produce posts people both looked at and read.
They always want their photos to connect with as wide an audience as possible, meaning it’s important to write a caption that’s both informative and engaging.
To further promote their instagram page, in 2014, Jim and Sam put in their first order of Thank a Farmer hats, which they were originally just going to distribute to their friends.
When they started wearing the hats, more and more people wanted to purchase them, so they haven’t stopped ordering them since.
Jim said the hats have been a great tool for spreading the Thank a Farmer message as they start conversation about the concept.
“It’s pretty cool, we can go to a random town and see people we’ve never even met wearing a hat,” he said.
All profits from the merchandise, which also includes T-Shirts, swimmers, hoodies and stickers, goes back into buying more merchandise, to further spread the Thank a Farmer message.
The fact you can’t go to country races now without seeing at least ten people wearing a Thank A Farmer hat, would imply the message that Jim and Sam are portraying has been well received by the rural industry.
For Jim and Sam though, they said they knew they were doing a good thing when they started getting feedback from their old mans’ friends.
“We’ve had a really positive response, we do get a lot of positive feedback, which is great,” Jim said.
Although it started as a bit of fun, both Sam and Jim have accepted their page as a platform to promote agriculture, something they both feel should be done whenever possible.
To support Jim and Sam, you can follow their instagram and Facebook page, Thank a Farmer For Your Next Meal. You can also visit their website, www.thankafarmerforyournextmeal.com.
Written by: Amelia Williams
The Forbes Advocate
Next time you sit down for a meal, take the time to think about where it came from and all that went into putting it on your plate.
'Thank A Farmer' goes viral!
That’s the message former Forbes boy Sam Johnston hopes to spread through his social media campaign, ‘Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal’.
A love of the land and a penchant for social media has inspired Johnston, son of local farmers Gary and Rosie Johnston, to create the successful campaign to promote farmers to the rest of the world.
The ‘Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal’ campaign was developed by Johnston and his university mate Jim Honner back in July last year and has since grown to have nearly 11,000 likes on Facebook.
Both studying Agricultural economics at the University of Sydney, Johnston and Honner, decided to start up an Instagram page about agriculture where people can share their farming photos with the hashtag #thankafarmerforyournextmeal.
“It came from the idea that I was doing a Beaut Utes Instagram page which I started in year 12 because I enjoyed looking at photos of utes,” Johnston said.
“I thought social media is such a great tool to advocate things and so I got together with my mate and we decided to do something that had a bit more spread and reach and something more that people can relate to, so we decided to do a page about agriculture.”
After creating an Instagram account, Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal then joined Facebook, where a photo a day is posted on the page.
Johnston said they get sent about five to 10 photos a day from people all over Australia, and even from overseas and of those photos they choose which ones to publish online.
“They’re pretty amazing,” Johnston said.
“We try to diversify it a bit, we don’t want all photos of sheep or cattle and we’re not out there to create a romantic idea of farming...we try to show drought and the harder times too.”
Photos on the page range from beautiful sunsets or rainbows to those depicting the dust and ploughing, and of course plenty of animals.
The main idea of the page is to show off the great work our farmers do, especially to those who may have never experienced it before.
“The main thing is to advocate farmers and show the rest of the world and city people what farmers achieve and the things they do for us,” Johnston said.
Johnston and Honner, who hails from Jugiong, are both country boys who have a passion for all things agriculture.
“It’s a big interest of both of ours - we enjoy farming and we think farmers don’t get enough recognition and support for everything they do,” Johnston said.
“We want to show the rest of the world how much of a good job our farmers do.”
When Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal began to take off the boys started selling hats and stickers with the logo to promote the page even further and help raise awareness of what farmers do.
“People ask where you get your hat from and they say my mate has this Facebook page and it just spreads and spreads - you end up seeing a lot of people with those hats,” Johnston said. “We’ve just put 400 hats through for our next order.”
All profits from the merchandise goes back into buying more hats and stickers to further promote the cause, as well as into supporting other groups like the boys’ college rugby team who wear the logo.
“We just want to try and get it as big as we can and keep promoting and advocating what Australian farmers do, but not just Australian farmers - we get people sending in photos from New Zealand, England, Canada etc,” Johnston said.
The page can be found on Facebook and Instagram by searching ‘Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal’.
Written by - Sophie Harris 27/03/2015