Thank a Farmer creators changing urban perceptions

Sam Johnston and Jim Honner, creators of Thank a Farmer for Your Next Meal, will be at Henty.

The faces behind the social media phenomenon, Thank a Farmer for Your Next Meal, will be bridging the city versus country divide at Henty this year.

Sam Johnston and Jim Honner created the Instagram and Facebook sites, Thank a Farmer for Your Next Meal, three years ago to help them stay in touch with agriculture while studying in Sydney.

The pair post stunning images taken by farmers and photographers from around Australia to connect followers with the positive, grass roots stories of agriculture.

They will be exhibiting at the field days, selling caps, T-shirts, jumpers, aprons, tea towels and stickers branded with the Thank a Farmer logo.

Both aged 22, the pair juggle university and work commitments to handle the image sorting, posting and customer interaction, graphic design, website and merchandising side of the business.

Sam, of Forbes, and Jim, of Jugiong, have been mates since boarding school and both studied agricultural economics at the University of Sydney.

“We are both off farms and came up with the idea of keeping in touch with the land and doing something good for agriculture while studying at uni,’’ Sam said.

“There was a lot of negative stories about agriculture being posted over social media and in the news so we put together an Instagram page showing the good work the Australian agricultural industry does.’’

The Instagram page was launched in 2014 with 100 followers and has grown to more than 46,000 while the Facebook page has over 26,000 likes.

Images are used to help followers understand on-farm processes and generate healthy conversation through informative captioning.

The harsher side of farming – drought and bushfire – is explored too.

“It shows the power of social media – it is just as popular with the older as the younger generations with people from throughout the world following our pages,’’ Sam said.

“We are sent hundreds of photos every week and we have to select two to three each day.

“Some are professional photographers but a lot of people are simply out there on the farm with their iphone capturing a quick moment they are in.

“We include a broad range of photos to cover as much of agriculture as we can.’’

The pair sell branded merchandise on line, reinvesting profits back into the business to buy new stock, along with sponsoring charitable events.

Often seen as advocates for the younger generation, Sam and Jim are careful for their site to be non-political.

Although happy to remain behind the scenes, the pair has been invited to speak at conferences on bridging the city-country divide through social media.

“Henty is our first big hit out – we are very excited to see how it goes,’’ Sam said.

“There are so many people in Sydney wearing our clothing and that gets the message spread around.

“We are looking forward to a meet and greet at Henty so people can find out what we are all about.’’

Field day visitors will hear Sam Johnston speak on how social media is changing the perceptions around agriculture on The Stump on Wednesday, September 20 at 1.45pm.