Good Corn Isn’t Good Communications: What I Learned from Our Farm Share Experience

Good Corn Isn't Good Communications What I Learned from Our Farm Share ExperienceOur family has a farm share for the first time this year, via Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer, and it's a lot of fun.

We're now "members" of second-generation-owned Rogowski Farm in Pine Island, NY. Every Monday after work, our daughter Charlotte and I head down to the farm stand to pick up the week's bounty. We're now sharing risk, as well as bounty, with the farm — as evidenced by Cheryl Rogowski's recent email on the tomato blight she's fighting with a copper treatment.

Let me tell you what's been happening with farm communications. We have a local CSA volunteer coordinator (Kerry) who has organized pick up and volunteers, and keeps the information flow going with the farm. Because, of course, most farmers are subject experts, not strategic communicators (just like most of your organization's program staff).

For the first few weeks, we received an email a few days prior to pick up outlining what we'd be getting that week (made weekend shopping a lot easier) and then a follow up email thanking that week's volunteers, reiterating the week's share and its dollar value, and heralding special opportunities.
These communications — and the blog for recipe sharing Kerry set up — made us feel part of the farm and CSA communities.

But all of a sudden, communication dried up completely. Not only was that annoying in terms of meal planning, but it was a dramatic disconnect. Seems that the farmers have been so focused on the corn that they haven't been sharing key updates with Kerry, so she couldn't share them with us CSA members.

After a nudge from me, Kerry got the farm back on track with updates but the hiatus (and why it happened) clarified to me how effective communications can transform a simple interaction (like someone participating in one of your programs, or giving for the first time) into the beginning of a real relationship.

Consider how you can put your strategic communications skills to work to strengthen the relationship with your org's base. Because good corn isn't good communications!

Nancy Schwartz on July 21, 2009 in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Strategy | 5 comments
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  • Claudia

    I agree, of course, but if you’ve ever farmed (I’ve personally only helped out), you’d cut farmers some slack in this area and just be super happy that you still have fresh produce available to you.

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