September 27, 2009
Yesterday, an Edmonton area potato grower gave away $20,000 worth of potatoes to local to anyone willing to come pick them up. The Great Potato Give Away was designed to attract attention to local food and farmland protection. The area around the farm is under pressure from urban development and few Edmonton residents have a connection to the farm land. The publicity event was a great success with 1000’s of people showing up on the farm to pick potatoes. At one point the line of cars waiting to get onto the property was 8 kilometers long. The organizers had made 4000 bags for people to fill and were planning on digging potatoes until 4pm, but by 1pm all of the potatoes were dug and the remaining people in line had to be turned away.
Local Residents Picking Free Potatoes
This event made a large impact on a large number of local residents but it’s impact was far greater then simply on those that showed up and dug through the ground with their hands to pick up potatoes, even those that were turned away learned a great deal about the limited nature of farm land and the overall impact of agriculture on the community. The news of the event spread over all the local news agencies, and with a quick google search it is clear that common sites like Flicker, Twitter and Kijiji were all involved in either the advertising of the event or the spreading of its impact and message after the fact. It even made CBC news top 10 stories this morning making national news, which is how I came about finding it.
This event was an amazing way of attracting attention and building community and connection with local residents. It’s high energy and passion made it a news worthy story and one that spread on its own do to its positive nature. In my opinion this one event changed more peoples opinion on food and farmland then any other $20,000 advertising campaign could have possibly provided.
Global News Edmonton Story
CTV Edmonton Story
CBC National News Story
Edmonton Examiner Story
September 20, 2009
This year my visit to the Acton Fall Fair was a lot different from my previous experiences. This is the first in over 10 years that I did not arrive on the grounds following close behind the cattle trailer ready to wash and dry my calf in preparation for the inter-club beef show. Instead I took the chance to sleep in and showed up around 10:30 to watch my cousins enter the ring with pure bred shorthorn calves following close behind. The day went along as planned with a few dramatic surprises from the nervous calves. Despite limited show ring success everyone came away with some excellent prizes.
This was when I noticed the small display at the side of the ring including a small Kubota tractor and some flags from the local Kubota dealer. I took a closer look at the prizes and noticed they had Kubota logos on them, so I asked around and soon found out Kubota has sponsored 3 local fairs. With further research, on the 4-H Ontario website, they have in fact sponsored 60 events nationwide. The total sponsorship deal is worth $200,000, with $75,000 being spent this fall. The sponsorship started last year at the Royal Winter Fair where they co-sponsored a youth leadership conference with TD Bank. Now Kubota has decided to sponsor Beef and Dairy 4-H shows at the local fair level as well as at some larger fairs such as the Royal Winter Fair.
Now, I was a little jealous of the prizes my cousins had received at the fair, the reasonably nice duffel bags were definitely more useful then the usual ribbon, but did they really serve their purpose. When it comes to the perspective of 4-H and the future of the agricultural industry, I don’t think it did help. There were quite a few less cattle at the fair this year compared to last, and only some of that could be attributed to the fact that there was another fair competing for entries that usually doesn’t overlap with Acton. What it comes down to in my opinion is that the 4-Hers who are still making the effort to come out to the fair and show aren’t there for the money and the prizes, they are competing because thats what they love doing and its a way of getting their foot in the door of the industry. They don’t need a gift from Kubota to keep showing up, but if 4-H isn’t benefiting that much from the sponsorship who is? Kubota is, its simple they need their logo and their name associated with grass roots agriculture and the future farmers of Canada. They are up against some of the strongest brand marketers in the world, John Deere and Case, in fact I saw more babies in John Deere clothes and Case hats around the fair then all of the advertisement Kubota had put up around the ring. So in the end I am somewhat disappointed with 4-H in that they have taken this sponsorships but haven’t stood up and made sure that the money would be well spent for both the goals of 4-H and Kubota. There must be a way where both 4-H and Kubota could receive more positive outcomes from this major cash sponsorship. I feel strongly that had the money been spent to promote new clubs and support important leaders it could have improved members experience in the 4-H program. In this case, Kubota would have their name attached to new growing projects which would provide a more positive image of the company with a vision of the future rather than a company with an increased advertising budget.