‘Thank a farmer’ goes viral

Next time you sit down for a meal, take the time to think about where it came from and all that went into putting it on your plate.

That’s the message former Forbes boy Sam Johnston hopes to spread through his social media campaign, ‘Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal’.

A love of the land and a penchant for social media has inspired Johnston, son of local farmers Gary and Rosie Johnston, to create the successful campaign to promote farmers to the rest of the world.

The ‘Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal’ campaign was developed by Johnston and his university mate Jim Honner back in July last year and has since grown to have nearly 11,000 likes on Facebook.

Both studying Agricultural economics at the University of Sydney, Johnston and Honner, decided to start up an Instagram page about agriculture where people can share their farming photos with the hashtag #thankafarmerforyournextmeal.

“It came from the idea that I was doing a Beaut Utes Instagram page which I started in year 12 because I enjoyed looking at photos of utes,” Johnston said.

“I thought social media is such a great tool to advocate things and so I got together with my mate and we decided to do something that had a bit more spread and reach and something more that people can relate to, so we decided to do a page about agriculture.”

After creating an Instagram account, Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal then joined Facebook, where a photo a day is posted on the page.

Johnston said they get sent about five to 10 photos a day from people all over Australia, and even from overseas and of those photos they choose which ones to publish online.

“They’re pretty amazing,” Johnston said.

“We try to diversify it a bit, we don’t want all photos of sheep or cattle and we’re not out there to create a romantic idea of farming...we try to show drought and the harder times too.”

Photos on the page range from beautiful sunsets or rainbows to those depicting the dust and ploughing, and of course plenty of animals.

The main idea of the page is to show off the great work our farmers do, especially to those who may have never experienced it before.

“The main thing is to advocate farmers and show the rest of the world and city people what farmers achieve and the things they do for us,” Johnston said.

Johnston and Honner, who hails from Jugiong, are both country boys who have a passion for all things agriculture.

“It’s a big interest of both of ours - we enjoy farming and we think farmers don’t get enough recognition and support for everything they do,” Johnston said.

“We want to show the rest of the world how much of a good job our farmers do.”

When Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal began to take off the boys started selling hats and stickers with the logo to promote the page even further and help raise awareness of what farmers do.

“People ask where you get your hat from and they say my mate has this Facebook page and it just spreads and spreads - you end up seeing a lot of people with those hats,” Johnston said. “We’ve just put 400 hats through for our next order.”

All profits from the merchandise goes back into buying more hats and stickers to further promote the cause, as well as into supporting other groups like the boys’ college rugby team who wear the logo.

“We just want to try and get it as big as we can and keep promoting and advocating what Australian farmers do, but not just Australian farmers - we get people sending in photos from New Zealand, England, Canada etc,” Johnston said.

The page can be found on Facebook and Instagram by searching ‘Thank A Farmer For Your Next Meal’.