Commission to feature growers' stories - The Packer

Commission to feature growers' stories

02/10/2012 12:07:00 PM
Tom Burfield

The Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission has added another dimension to the strategic plan it followed last year that focused on the strawberry itself — how nutritious and delicious it is, how it’s available year-round and how kids love strawberries.

Now, the commission will showcase the people who grow those strawberries.

“It’s not that we’re going to step away from that, but we’re really going to start profiling the people who grow the strawberries,” said Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director.

Commission representatives spent several days in the fields in Oxnard, Santa Maria and Watsonville shooting still photography and video while interviewing growers and asking them questions such as what they do, how they make their growing decisions and what they would like to tell consumers.

The commission will edit the clips to tell the growers’ stories.

“There are a number of different stories to tell,” O’Donnell said, including tales about multigeneration family farms and stories about people who have come to the U.S. as harvest workers and now have their own growing operations.

Stories also will cover sustainability, environmentalism and what growers do to ensure that the community and the environment are protected, she said.

Spanish-language media also will be targeted.

“Some of the interviews, we actually taped in Spanish,” O’Donnell said.

The material will be used in advertising, on the commission’s website, in presentations and in outreach efforts to consumer groups and public officials.

“Particularly in the growing areas, public officials aren’t always very familiar with agriculture,” O’Donnell said. “We’ll be targeting them to help them meet strawberry growers and understand what their practices are and open up a dialogue.”

By telling growers’ stories, the commission hopes to “show that there are genuine human beings” behind the industry and “dispel those monikers of corporate farming or industrial agriculture,” she said.

The program began with the commission’s 2012 fiscal year, on Feb. 1.



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