When my husband Larry and I, along with four of our five adult children, were designing LaClare
Family Creamery located in Malone, the consumer was the main focus.
Today’s consumer is removed from the farm three, four or even five generations. They don’t have the experience or background to connect with their food supply. They don’t know of anyone who owns a farm that they could take their children to touch a cow or hold a baby goat.
Thus, LaClare is a one-of-a-kind, vertically integrated agricultural business. Our visitors see where the dairy goat milk was produced and then can see directly into the plant to view the chevre (cheese made from goat milk) production. They can see the packaging of the final cheese products and then sample those items in the retail store. We also offer the experience to try our cheese products through entrees from the on-site café.
Consumers take advantage of the many on-site educational opportunities. Connecting the storyline from farming to food is critical for the future of agriculture.
For 39 years, I taught high school agriculture and plan and present events and tours at LaClare Family Creamery. What I have learned from today’s consumer is they are looking for an experience. They want to be engaged with their food source. They want to meet the people who produce their food. Consumers want transparency.
Research done by The Center for Food Integrity shows that consumers want to know you are like them. Do you value safe food, protect the environment, raise animals humanely and treat workers fairly? These are things they care about too. Thus, incorporating shared values in our communication is three to five times more important to earning trust than sharing facts, science and data.
When I am speaking with consumers I try to find out who they are and what their value system is. The key is to relate to them. My goal is to educate them about goat milk, goat milk products and the dairy goat industry but I intertwine my facts with personal stories and a bit of humor. Consumers will remember the story longer than facts and figures.
With the above information in mind, for the past six years, Calumet County Farm Bureau has planned and hosted ‘Meet Your Local Farmer Day’ from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the fourth Saturday in April. It’s a day when a handful of farms invite people out to learn more about what they do.
We encourage other counties to host a ‘Meet Your Local Farmer Day’ to give consumers an experience with agriculture.
Some things to consider when planning the day are:
- The number of farms. We have four or five farms.
- The location of the farms. Choose them in the same area of the county for ease.
- There is no set pattern that consumers have to visit the farms. They can visit one farm or all the farms.
- Diversity of farming practices. This year we have a cow dairy, a goat dairy, a hydroponic greenhouse and a beef farm that will have multi-species of animals.
- Multi-generational, if possible.
- Personality of the farmers. Their ability and willingness to speak with consumers. If they need additional people on the farm that day to help with greeting the consumer, other Farm Bureau members could volunteer.
- Clean, neat, organized farms. If the farms need help with this, Farm Bureau members can volunteer their time. Remember some visitors will have no experience in farming and they are equating the farm site with their food.
If you have questions about planning a county ‘Meet Your Local Farmer Day,’ please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clara Hedrich is the District 6 representative on the WFBF Promotion and Education Committee. Clara, along with her husband and four of their five adult children, founded LaClare Family Creamery in Malone specializing in goat milk cheeses.
The Promotion and Education Committee is a dynamic group of Farm Bureau leaders who develop, implement and promote programs that build agricultural awareness and provide leadership development to the agricultural community.