Growing a Movement with Farmers’ Stories

Sharing stories is one of the few human practices as old as agriculture. Just like becoming a good steward of the land doesn’t happen by accident, neither does becoming a strong storyteller, it takes training and practice. That’s why the Alliance and Liberty Prairie Foundation decided to organize our Soil Health Storytelling Training Series for Farmer Leaders, a series of trainings with Public Narrative supported by the Food and Farm Communications Fund.  

Throughout January, nearly two dozen farmers from across Illinois joined us for three different storytelling training sessions. Our first day of training helped farmers feel confident using their voice to share the story of themselves, painting a picture of their lives and farms with words. Our second day was a concentrated social media bootcamp. 

For our final day we brought our stewards to the offices of the Chicago Reader to learn how to pitch to and be interviewed by journalists. As farmers shared their stories the depth and diversity of our movement became clear; fighting for fair and equitable treatment while urban farming, leading Illinois’ hemp renaissance, rehabilitating the land while rehabilitating yourself physically and mentally, every story told was different. When all these accounts are joined together they tell the story of the regenerative agriculture movement; building healthy soil, healthy people, and healthy communities.

The final training day was dubbed, “Planting Seeds” and after hearing our stewards’ stories the name fits. Planting a seed is a deceivingly simple act that when done properly, in the right environment, and tended to, will produce and support life; this is the act of farming. 

In 2020, our farmers will share their stories with lawmakers, journalists, and the public, starting with our Annual Meeting Tour. These stories of our stewards soil health journey are just the beginning, expect more as the Alliance’s continues becoming an organization that lifts up our members stories. 

Remember, telling a story can seem easy, but telling one that will support the life of the regenerative agriculture movement– that’s a job for someone with experience; that’s a job for a farmer.