Modern Farmer: Could you tell us a little about your farm?
Lindsay Kaiser: We are in Waverley, which is Northeastern Iowa. My husband is a third-generation dairy farmer – he was born and raised here in Waverley on the same farm. He went to school for dairy science. I’m from Iowa City and got into farming after college, working on farms through the Midwest and California a little bit. Travis and I met through mutual friends. On top of the dairy, which he runs with his family, we diversified the farm. We have chickens, turkeys, eggs and I’m in charge of the vegetables. We have 2 acres of diversified vegetables that we sell at three farmers markets a week.
MF: You guys also have a CSA?
LK: Yea. The CSA is a new concept to Northeastern Iowa. There is one traditional model and they struggle getting their full sign-up. I didn’t really want to compete with that. So our model, people can choose how much they want to put into the CSA. They have an account and they shop off that. Maybe we will move towards a more traditional route once we get that exposure and trust.
MF: Why did you decide to join Instagram?
LK: Last year was the first year we were trying to market the vegetables, chickens and eggs. We got a Facebook for it and I had a digital camer, but I was so busy on the farm to take that 10 extra minutes to upload the pictures put them out on Facebook – it took a lot of time to do that everyday. I had been reading a lot about how social media was so important for what we were doing. So I got the iPhone and got Instagram. It has been really helpful in more ways than I expected. Besides having the beautiful pictures, people can watch us harvest. I will post pictures as I am harvesting in the morning before market and it shows people what we will have that day. Also networking with other farmers; I didn’t even think about that. It has been really helpful, just seeing the different ways other farmers do things. Honestly, I don’t have time during the season to go see anybody, so that is really helpful.
‘I will put up as I am harvesting in the morning before market and it shows people what we will have that day.’
MF: So you really liked the instant aspect of Instagram. Tell us more about the networking with other farmers.
LK: It is really cool to see people I met on other farms as they move on to managing or starting up their own operations. But it’s also great to connect with people who I have never met, and probably will never meet in real life, and pictures of their farmers market booths and their varieties. I do a lot of “hey, that’s a really awesome green pepper, what variety is that?” It has been really helpful for planning what to plant.
MF: Has there ever been anything on the farm that you wanted to put on Instagram, but you didn’t have a chance?
LK: Pretty much all the dairy stuff. I don’t keep my phone on me when I am in the barn at all. The cows still squish you and there is manure, which is the way dairies are. So pretty much anything with the larger livestock doesn’t go on Instagram, just to keep my phone safe.
MF: Is there anything in particular you are excited to share this week?
LK: I think another picture of Iowa. I don’t really know what other people’s perceptions are, I can only imagine, of what an Iowa farm looks like. We are surrounded on all sides by large conventional-grain farmers. I am really looking forward to showing people that there are still small family farms that exist in Iowa that are totally different from the large farm corporations.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)
(All photos courtesy of Kaiser Farm)