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Home Grown: Harvesting Joy

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Alexandra Danell @harvest.joy
Alexandra looks through the lens of her camera, ready for her a photo shoot at a citrus farm in San Diego

Using social media to promote agriculture

YUMA, Ariz. - More and more people are using social media every day, and farmers are no exception. 

For today’s Home Grown, I spoke to a girl who is using Instagram to advocate for agriculture. 

Alexandra Danell is a California native whose passion is agriculture. 

“I grew up on the central coast of California, it’s a small farm town. I didn’t grow up in farming but I would get stuck behind a tractor on the way home from school every day. I think just being around that and being exposed to it, I just fell in love with it,” said Danell.

Alexandra created her Instagram page Harvest Joy to tell farmer’s stories through photos and videos. 

Alexandra Danell @harvest.joy, visits a Dandy Fresh Produce field in Yuma

At times, even visiting agriculture fields in Yuma!

“I would go to the farmer's markets and see all of these different farmers that have beautiful produce, but I saw stories behind that. I was also able to see that there was a need for bridging that communication gap between consumer and farmer. I would go up to each farmer and offer my services for free. On harvest Joy’s Instagram page, I would share the photo with a story or a fact about produce. Then I started figuring out what I could do on those photoshoots to help that farm convey the importance of agriculture to consumers,” said Danell.

When she isn’t traveling farm to farm, Alexandra is the marketing manager for a sweet potato farm, Country Sweet Produce in California. 

Given her expertise in both agriculture and storytelling, she is able to use social media to reach a large audience. 

After all, over half of Americans from age 50–64 are using Facebook, and that percentage increases the younger you go.

I asked Danell: why is it so important for young people like you and I to be aware of what agriculture does for our society?

“They need to know where their food comes from and the difference in what makes something organic versus not organic. It’s important that they understand the struggles that farmers have to deal with day in and day out to provide that food,” said Danell.

Alexandra plants her posts like crops, informing the public at the best time, based on the current environment, to increase growth of knowledge over a period of time.

Alexandra Danell @harvest.joy shows the shallow root system of cabbage

I asked her if social media plays a role in the way that young people get their information.

“Absolutely, it’s attainable too because it’s one photo at a time, and I can give one fact at a time. It’s not just overloading them with information, I can break it up and make it something that they will remember,” said Danell.

Social media allows Danell to amplify a message on the state of agriculture, which is especially important during this time of the coronavirus. 

“I was able to listen to a few conversations about how produce companies and farmers were going to figure out how to provide more food to grocery stores. Working on social distancing, are employees 6 feet away from each other in the field when they are harvesting, or when they’re weeding? The most important thing is to know that there is no evidence that fresh produce or any other food can transmit COVID-19,” said Danell.

Danell also told me a few tips to keep in mind while shopping for produce during this time. 

Alexandra Danell @harvest.joy shows persimmons! These can be eaten fresh or used for cooking!

“Wash your hands after the grocery store, and then number two is, try not to touch multiple produce items to find the perfect one. You can choose packaged produce, you don’t need to wash pre-washed produce again. It is usually triple washed, and it’s washed with solutions or water that’s probably cleaner than your own sink,” said Danell.

Overall for Alexandra, it’s all about telling the farmer’s story.

What has been your favorite part about having your Instagram page so far?

Alexandra Danell @harvest.joy made these coffee mugs in honor of farmers

“I would say the farmers themselves. I get so inspired by their stories and how hard they work. It’s inspiring to me because they’re working these long hours, these long days, and it’s to feed the world,” said Danell.

And harvesting joy for agriculture. 

“They aren’t looking for fame, they aren’t looking for recognition, and they probably won’t get any. So if I can give them that recognition, that’s what keeps me going,” said Danell.

DSW Living / Home Grown / Video

Arianna Shell

Arianna Shell started her position as a Sunrise reporter in August 2018 in Yuma, Arizona.

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