Social Media Conference Goes Small Town – Are You Going?

The following blog post was submitted by Michelle Tucker aka kst8er76 on Twitter and one of the participants in the AgChat Foundation Conference.

An excitement is building about the quickly upcoming Small Town #140 Conference to be held in Hutchinson, Kansas at the Historic Fox Theatre on Monday, November 1st, 2010.  This is an amazing opportunity for Kansas & specifically Hutchinson to host an international conference.  The founder of the #140 Conference, Jeff Keni Pulver from New York has held conferences in Los Angeles, New York, London & Tel Aviv among other large cities.

The idea for a small town version of the conference spawned from Becky McCray, an entrepreneur extraordinaire from Alva, Oklahoma.  She is a friend of Jeff Pulver’s and challenged him to consider having a Small Town version of his popular #140 Conference. [Read more...]

Borg Family Tells Their Farm’s Story on Video

Recently, the Borg family farm had the opportunity to host a TV crew on their farm. The video has been posted online and several people on Twitter saw Debbie Borg (love that handle @iamafarmer2 cause she really works that farm!) tweet the link out. We asked Debbie to help us understand some of the video.

Debbie sent us the following:

I am very proud to have been a part of Phil Lempert’s FoodSense PBS special.  This gave me a great opportunity to share our family farm story.  I hardly made the special as my part is very short in the opening but am grateful for them taking the time to produce a short video about our no-till operation.

I am especially proud that it features my father-in-law who is 81 and fighting another case of pneumonia or some might just call it “farmer’s disease.”  I feel that his comments are by far the most important part, him saying, “our soil is so much better today,” because it’s the dirt’s health that keeps us farming or in today’s term sustainable.

See the video here:

Humanizing a Critically Important Industry From the Ground Up

Farmers telling their stories through social media and organizations supporting them are in the spotlight on a leading social media strategy blog. Thanks to Jay Baer for taking note of Know a California Farmer and for offering his help to the AgChat Foundation. We certainly appreciate his amplifying the exciting work of farmers and ranchers through Twitter, blogs, YouTube and Facebook!

Following is the intro to Jay’s blog post on the individual efforts to humanize agriculture, we encourage you to read it if you haven’t seen it yet.

Jay Baer social media strategist

Humanizing a Critically Important Industry, From the Ground Up

October 14th, 2010 | Written By: Jay Baer | View Comments

The public dialog about agriculture in California and beyond is largely negative, with tales of agribusiness nefariousness commonplace. This is despite the fact that 98% of America’s farms are still owned by families. Farmers are literally feeding us every day, but are routinely pilloried in social media and elsewhere by a very vocal minority.

This presents a classic disconnect between perception and reality. The broad perception is that “farmers” and “farming” are code words for “gigantic corporations trying to make a fast buck”. Somehow along the way, the general public forgot the face of the local farmer. Into this breech stepped the California Agricultural Communications Coalition (CACC) – the umbrella organization representing the voice of the farmer.

via Humanizing a Critically Important Industry From the Ground Up | Blogging and Content Creation | Social Media Consulting – Convince & Convert.

Why Farmers Should Make Videos

We are honored to have so many talents from volunteers contributing to the AgChat Foundation!

We just received a great contribution that we hope resonates with farmers and motivates more to take camera in hand and tell their story through video. We will put the video here but we also encourage you to visit the website and team behind it at AboutHarvest.com.

Thanks Nancy and team for your support and encouragement of farmers telling their stories with tips on planning, shooting and editing video through your post Why Farmers Should Make Videos!

Why Farmers Should Make Videos from Nancy O’Mallon on Vimeo.

Breeding Food Security

Guest post by Karl Haro von Mogel. Karl will be online for tonight’s AgChat with a focus on World Hunger and Food Security:

This week, the World Food Prize organization is holding its annual Borlaug Dialogue, complete with lectures, prizes, and above all, thoughtful discussion on how to improve food security for people in developing countries. There are many ways that this can be done, through old and new genetic techniques, to improvements in farming practices and soil management, to food storage, distribution, and infrastructure – not to mention social practices and attitudes about food. But as an aspiring plant geneticist, when I think of food security I think first about improving the plants that we grow.

Being a plant breeder is not as easy as it might seem. Each crop species has its own history contained in the genetic code of the seeds that exist today, some more than others. Useful versions of the many thousands of genes that there are in crops are continually being discovered, and plant breeders draw on this variation to cross and select plants that have the right combinations of traits.

What is the right combination – the perfect plant on a genetic level? To answer that question we must consider the environment that they grow in – the intersection of climate, weather, soils, and resources that we call the farm. A variety perfectly suited to a rich soil in a moist climate may not even produce anything in a dry, sandy location, whereas a plant adapted to survive in such arid lands will be woefully inadequate where conditions are ideal. And year to year, weather patterns change, making the task of a breeder even more difficult – and more important.

You cannot talk about things such as food distribution if you do not have the food to distribute. We have witnessed in recent years that droughts and severe weather conditions are enough to cause shortages in some of the more secure of nations. Even the threat of a shortage is enough to close a trade barrier and endanger food supplies elsewhere. As our climate continues to change and these uncommon events that put crops at risk become more frequent, we need to gird ourselves (and our plants) against such possibilities.

Breeders are hard at work trying to bring together genes that will strengthen crops against these conditions, but I worry if it will be enough? I think we will need to draw on genes from outside the gene pool of individual species to bring together traits that are sorely needed. Genetic engineering is one tool among many that can help make food security possible. We will also need improvements in growing practices, which will go hand in hand with genetic improvements.

Drought tolerance is one important trait, but nutritionally improved staples such as golden rice, super cassava, and even conventionally bred high-protein maize are another important step. The ever-present biological threats of insect pests, disease, and parasitic weeds in Africa, demand attention as well. If a region, nation, or planet can first grow crops that will guarantee that enough nourishing food will be always be available for a growing population, then we can have the stable political environment that will make it possible for us to figure out how to get it into everyone’s hands.