Published: Farm & Food Care Ontario, April 11, 2013 

A new initiative will help to tell stories of food and farming in this province from the perspective of some of Ontario’s younger farmers.

“Dinner Starts Here” is the brainchild of Andrew Campbell, a Middlesex dairy farmer and social media advocate, and was launched at the annual meeting of Farm & Food Care Ontario last week.

Agriculture has so many career opportunities, said Campbell, noting that a recent survey cites three jobs waiting for every agriculture and food graduate. Unfortunately, though, with the average age of a Canadian farmer now at 52, Campbell said it can be hard for the general public to see the excitement that young farmers have for their futures and for their sectors.

While studies show that a majority of Canadians would like to know more about where their food comes from, Campbell said that in general, he’s found that older farmers aren’t as comfortable learning how to use social media as a way of explaining what they do to a non-farming public. Many younger farmers are already using social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube on a daily basis and are comfortable with these communications technologies.

Participants for the team were recruited based on their geography, the commodities they farm and their current use of social media tools. They include:

  • Stephanie Campbell of Perth, Ontario (eggs and grains)
  • Erin Leduc of Moose Creek, Ontario (grains and seed sales)
  • Erin McLean of Lakefield, Ontario (fruits and vegetables)
  • Justin Williams of Bloomfield, Ontario (dairy cows and maple syrup)
  • Scott Snyder of Winterbourne, Ontario (beef cattle, crops and custom operations)
  • Jacob Pelissero of St. Ann’s, Ontario (eggs)
  • Kendra Leslie of Port Elgin, Ontario (hogs)
  • Sarah Brien of Ridgetown, Ontario (sheep)
  • Stephanie Kowalski of Glencairn, Ontario (potatos)
  • Andrew Campbell of Appin, Ontario (dairy cows and grains)

Team participants have already begun to post videos and blogs of activities on their farms. Guest bloggers are also welcome to submit material at any time. Later this year, a chat room will be added to the site to provide a forum for any young Ontario agricultural advocates to communicate with and seek input from each other about initiatives they’re working on.

The program is currently seeing sponsorship to help with start up costs and with training for the team. Sponsors, to date, include Farm & Food Care Ontario, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd., and the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency.

The initiative can be seen at:

Twitter – @HowDinnerStarts Facebook – www.facebook.com/DinnerStartsHere

Blog:www.dinnerstartshere.ca

YouTube: www.youtube.com/dinnerstartshere

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