How do we build trust with our urban customers?
I often receive this question when visiting with farmers or groups of students that plan to make agriculture their choice of career. I think that deep down everyone realizes the true answer, and yet there is always that same look of hope in their eyes as they wait for my response.
The look of hope soon becomes a look of resignation as I reply,
“One story at a time.”
Reality dictates that there are no short cuts to building relationships. A basic understanding of psychology reminds us that trust requires a relationship. Just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is also no such thing as a quick fix to the quagmire that agriculture faces in 2017.
Farmers spend their days growing food, while their urban customers ask for transparency to fill the great void of trust that exists in our country. While at times it seems that we come to the issue with very different perspectives, I am fairly certain that we will all make a strong team if we can bridge the trust gap.
Many years ago, in the early days of Feed Yard Foodie, I wrote a blog post entitled, It’s not about the trailer. Although it was written in 2012 and I laugh at how small my girls were in the picture, I believe that the heart of the message stands the test of time.
We build trust by sharing of ourselves.
Over the past six weeks, I presented to students at three universities/colleges in Nebraska and Kansas. The title of my presentation was “Sustainability, Responsibility, and the Art of Balance”.
My hour long presentation held ten main messages:
- Success is a journey, not a moment in time. It should be driven by your core values and your passion to be better tomorrow than you are today.
- Live a story worth telling, and then tell it with a passion. Over time, others may begin to also tell your story — sharing is a good thing.
- Remember that as farmers we do not just grow food — we grow our communities and we grow the future. Be inspired to volunteer and share your gifts to help make the world a better place.
- Pack your FAITH — make goals and stay true to your core values. Hold yourself accountable!
- Balance your commitment to people, animals, and planet by using science to judiciously use your farm’s resources, and your heart to help you build relationships.
- Engage in the food production conversation because the stability of our country is intrinsically tied to the availability of a safe, plentiful food supply.
- Realize that you can learn something from everyone. They key to building relationships is learning to deal with awkward moments with both grace and class.
- Understand that it is the courage to continue that counts. The journey is long and it is hard — learn how to refill your cup.
- Be KIND. It does not always matter that you are right, but it does matter that you are kind.
- Believers make good team members. Recognize that together we are stronger, and we must all be inspired to believe in order to be successful.
This week I discovered that my alma mater, Dartmouth College, picked up and shared a news article that resulted from my presentation at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. It made me want to laugh with the joy of victory, and cry with the huge bubble of emotion that comes from a long, long journey of hard work trying to connect the people of my past with the people of my present.
It only took one story to bring two vastly different college cultures together for a moment of time.
A relationship begins with a moment of time.
Can you imagine the impact of hundreds of thousands of those moments?
Are you ready to tell your story?
The team needs you.
After all, that’s how we build trust.