Claire Eckley

@PureKent 

“We’ve got loads of stuff to tweet about!” I said to @No1FarmerGuy. 

“I’m not so sure.” 

“Well we’re on the list, so you’ve got to do it!” 

Day to day tweeting from my account @PureKent, tends to be about day to day stuff, like what food fairs are coming up, or how the crop is looking. @No1FarmerGuy tweets more about the farm, throwing in a few innovative agriculture tweets & retweets. Our twitter friends could definitely tell who was tweeting when!! @farmersoftheuk gave us a chance to tell the story of our rapeseed oil and flour in one week, right from the beginning. We had never done this on Twitter and it was a pleasant reminder of why we’re doing it. Hosting for a week also gave us a chance to tweet about the food community in Kent. 

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@solwayshepherd hosted the week before us, and ran a very useful survey which showed that about 30% of the account followers had no farming knowledge at all. We decided to have sessions when we tweeted for non-farmers, and sessions when we tweeted more technical stuff. This wasn’t just interesting for farmers though, and we got responses from scientists and academics. As innovating farmers, this was brilliant as we want more dialogue with people who look at farming and food production from a different angle. 

As one of only a handful of arable farmers making our own flour, it occurred to us we might be giving away our ideas and long research hours. The arable sector is seen as the rich part of the industry, and we wanted everyone to see the ad hoc and second hand basis of our operation. We tweeted what we were comfortable with and everyone seemed happy! 

We are farmers who are pretty happy with our lot. Some might see the account as a way to raise awareness of the problems in agriculture – low prices, red tape, the weather! But we are lucky enough to be farming, which we love, in an area which offers opportunities and options for our business. Hopefully we reflected that in our tweets. 

There aren’t many twitter accounts that have made me cry, but @FarmersoftheUK is one of them. On two occasions, other farmers have tweeted about crisis coming to their farm gate. Those are the ones I remember – real people in real situations. In 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was on our list of things to tweet about, but as the week went on, it didn’t seem to fit and we never got round to it. I missed my opportunity to make others cry! Farms are businesses, but they are also people and families living their lives along with other people in the industry who sit at farmhouse kitchen tables and see children grow, join in celebrations and offer support in dire times. 

Twitter has been great for farmers – they make “Twitter friends” who they otherwise would not know. Our Twitter friends are always there for some banter, or to offer a word of support. It seems