MONTVALE, Va. (WFXR) — Think of it as social media meets the pasture. Mix in some cool video, and maybe a background soundtrack. Add some of the newest innovations in farming. Then give it a dash of downhome personality. Do all that, put it on multiple platforms in front of millions of people, and you have the Farm Babe.
The Farm Babe is Michelle Miller. Miller is a farmer, journalist, influencer, and motivational speaker with a social media reach of 5-million views a month. Her mission is to help people have a better understanding of where their food comes from.
“I started the Farm Babe on social media nearly a decade ago,” said Miller. “I utilize a lot of different ways to tell the story of agriculture to help bridge the gap between farmers and consumers.”
Recently, that mission took her to Montvale, Virginia and Chapel Creek Farms. Miller spent three days with Chapel Creek Farms owners Melody and Johnny Divers to observe how they operate.
“They have a beautiful farm out here,” Miller said. “I want to share that story of how their cattle is raised.”
All of the cattle at Chapel Creek is grass-fed. The beef produced by the farm routinely receives the highest ratings from consumers. A big reason for that is the personal relationship Chapel Creek fosters with its customers. In addition to traditional sales to wholesalers and ranchers, one innovation by Chapel Creek is to sell by the cut to individual customers. It is a practice that has caught on and provided the farm with a new revenue stream. That is vitally important at a time when farm profit margins are razor thin, and requires the Divers to develop relationship directly with the customers they serve.
“Transparency is so important, especially when you’re working with consumers that have never really shopped directly from the farmer,” said Chapel Creek’s Melody Divers. “They need to know how and where, and all of the logistics of how their food is coming to be on their plate.”
That also means letting consumers know about the farming process. In the case of Chapel Creek, that means providing information on forage and farming practices. It pays off in a quality product and return business. That sort of commitment reflects well on the rest of the local farming community.
“People around here are ranting and raving, saying this is the best beef I’ve ever had,” said Miller as she described visiting Chapel Creek’s processor to pick cuts of beef. “You can see the quality when you look at it; that nice thick ribeye with the marbling. And that’s when he (Johnny Divers) jumped in with the forage, and the genetics, and the care. I’m learning a lot about this region.”
In addition to selling beef and cattle, Chapel Creek also sells apple cider made at the farm, and embraces agritourism by holding special event at the farm to showcase its products and the products of other local farmers.
That versatility is the wave of the future for small family farms, but it still comes down to meeting basic customer needs. But, it is also a two-way street; customers need to know what questions to ask. It is the “Farm Babe’s” goal to educate consumers about what those questions are because informed consumers make better, more cost-effective choices.
“Know your farmer, buy local, and support your local farmer,” Miller said. “It’s really important.”