Modern Farmer: Could you tell us a little about Zweber Farms?
Emily Zweber: Zweber Farms was established in 1906, by my husband Tim’s great grandfather. Tim is the fourth generation to farm it. I have been farming with him and his family since we were married eight years ago. Our main business is dairy — we are Organic Valley farm owners. We also sell beef, pork, chicken, and eggs directly from our farm.
MF: When did you decide to join Instagram?
EZ: I served as the first executive director of the AgChat Foundation. The mission is to empower farmers and ranchers to connect with communities using a social platform. We do a lot of training to give farmers the tools and techniques to engage online. When new platforms come out, I’m on top of it.
MF: Since you have all this expertise with agriculture and social media, where does Instagram rank for you?
EZ: We use several platforms. The biggest is our blog, which has our own original content, and Facebook, because that is where a lot of our community is. We use most for business. Instagram is where I bring a more personal touch to what we are doing on the farm. We purposely did not use the handle “Zweberfarms” on Instagram, because we wanted to make it really personal. Tim does not use his Instagram that regularly, but he is a heavy Twitter user.
MF: Do you still view Instagram as a marketing tool or is it just a way to connect with other farmers?
EZ: A bit of both. I wouldn’t say it was our heaviest marketing tool; it just brings that other perspective to what we are doing on the farm. I am more apt to put something on Facebook that says “we have chickens for sale,” versus on Instagram where I would show our chickens out on pasture. That is very strategic.
MF: Have you made any connections with other farmers on Instagram?
EZ: Many of the farmers I follow on Instagram I found on other platforms. I use Instagram to find more people outside of agriculture. That is where I actively seek other people to follow besides farmers.
MF: Why do you make that conscious break?
EZ: For me, Instagram is about discovering other communities to share my farm stories with. I don’t need to know what every other farmer is doing on Instagram. I use Twitter for getting a pulse on what is going on in agriculture. Instagram is really connecting with people who are sharing beautiful pictures of food or things I am interested in. By that, hopefully they are looking at my feed too, and seeing what we are doing on the farm.
MF: Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to sharing with the ModFarm followers?
EZ: We are getting ready for my husband’s oldest sister to get married on the farm. There will be a lot of prep and work happening the next two weeks. We are just starting our fall calving season, we should be having a couple calves this week. On our farm, everyday there are hens out on pasture, horses, the calves and the cows and all the beautiful things that happen day to day on the farm.
(This interview has been edited and condensed)
(All photos courtesy of Zweber Farms)