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A Farmer in Your Kitchen

An educational, online experience that looks back on the farm-to-table experience from the farmer's point of view.

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7 2

Written by DeletedUser

Overview: Farmers are incredibly proud of their occupation. After all, food provides us with the basic sustenance and nourishment that we need to get by every single day. What do farmers make of what we do with *their* food?

The Back Story:
I was motivated to come up with a concept to celebrate farmers after attending a recent fair trade talk. Our speaker told us a story about he got involved in responsible cacao bean sourcing and shared a photo of one farmer eating a piece of organic chocolate made from his own beans for the very first time. Here was a man who had spent the greater part of his life farming one plant, now enjoying the finished product. It was incredibly moving, and I think it's little vignettes like this that can connect people to the people behind their food.

There's a lot that the art of storytelling can bring to connecting people to the food we all consume.

The Concept:
Imagine if we could document the connections that farmers make with their food consumers. It could be done through an online website like "A Farmer in Your Kitchen," which would follow and capture the experience of farm-grown or farm-raised food as it leaves the shelves of the supermarket, or the basket at the farmer's market, and makes its way to our dinner plates.


Potential stories to be captured in "webisodes:"
- The tomato farmer who sees his tomato seeds become part of an urban school garden
- The chicken farmer who sees her eggs be used in cake batter for the wedding of a young couple
- The dairy farmer who sees his goats milk turn into prize-winning cheese served on an assiette de fromage at the upscale restaurant

Other components of the website could include:
- An open platform for users to submit your own stories
- An series of games or stories tailored for school-aged children
- A recipe directory for cooks
- A marketing guide that teaches producers how to showcase their crop and present it to potential clients such as retailers or restaurants

What's in it for the farmer? 
Insights from marketing research and strategy, particularly in the agriculture industry, indicate that small-scale and large-scale farmers alike have a huge opportunity connect with consumers by providing a story behind their product. For example, the simple act of adding a personal photo to a package can drive up sales volume. This is not a new secret strategy to the consumer-packaged goods industry, but it is in agriculture. A website or online community can provide a low-cost, pilot-ready venue to facilitate story-telling and sharing. Expansion to other mediums is definitely possible and necessary. Ideas for iterations and extensions to this concept, are of course, appreciated :) 

This concept is inspired by flipping the urban dweller/agritourism experience inside out. Instead of you visiting rural farms to experience agarian life, what if your farmer instead visited and met with *you* to see how you prepared his or her food?

7 comments

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DeletedUser

I really love this idea. I think there could be two trajectories to it: one with farmers who farm for a living and the second one featuring urban homesteaders who are growing local food on their fire escapes, windowsills, back patio, etc. I think it's important to not only show people the mass production aspect of food, but also how they can participate in production themselves. There could be something more to this.

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DeletedUser

The urban homesteader element is definitely an important component to this -- it's all about storytelling and celebrating producers, regardless of whether or not they do it for a living.

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DeletedUser

Made some recent updates to the concept in order to explain the back story and make a compelling case for why this is also important to farmers. Keep the comments and insights coming!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Fab flip! What's the incentive for the busy farmer? Let's build on this idea to flesh out how it could be translate to reality... Speaking of reality – could there be Reality TV angles on this notion?

Photo of Faiz Munshi

Haven't thought through the incentive for a farmer, but from a reality show perspective - what if an urban dweller and rural farmer exchange places? Could be an interesting perspective from both angles...

Photo of Meena Kadri

You're quite the flipster, aren't you? Love it!

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DeletedUser

Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

Nice flip on my flip, Faiz! Quite promising, because there is actually a very popular U.S. cable TV show called the Fabulous Beekman Boys that is about an urban dwelling couple who move to the country to start a farm.

To me, a website seemed like the most feasible starting point. It meets the initial objectives of being something that is low-cost, easy-to-pilot, but can capture a wide audience. What's really at the heart of this concept, though is the idea of a platform for sharing stories and knowledge. That is where I see many opportunities for extension into other multimedia beyond webisodes, to an open source community forum, to reality TV, and so forth...