Why follow this account? Who am I posting for? What is the intention of this Instagram? How does time spent on social media platforms add up as far as serving the higher good?

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I am diving deep into these questions as I step into the third year of doing Instagram, the only social media the farm (or myself, Mary Plantwalker, who manages this account) has.

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I began this IG account in April of 2018, when we were transitioning the farm to a business model for hosting events and being a retreat center. We received a huge loan from Mountain Bizworks to get us up and running, and I took their foundational business course where one of the things I learned was the “necessity” of social media to get your business some business.

Navigating Facebook did not come easy to me, and it also felt completely overwhelming and energy-sucking, so that was not the platform of choice. Personally, Hart and I had no personal need or desire for any social media. Hart still doesn’t! So it was an idea I bought into that, to have a business, you need social media, and in that, it became personal for me as well. I set up a farm account on Instagram, the easiest and most simple platform I could understand. Which meant it got me on social media, and this has been a learning journey for sure!

I came to it it with such naivety. When I learned that there was a “like” button, and people can choose to “like” your post, I felt like I had returned to elementary school. When I learned you pick and choose who to follow and some people follow you then unfollow you, I had reminisces of going through social anxieties in kindergarten about being accepted by the group. But I continued on the journey, and am still here, as it is the most popular modern day way to have your voice heard. The dopamine hits from likes and supportive comments are real and I will admit I have looked at our Insights and seen thousands of visits to a post with only a couple hundred likes and wondered “If that many people are seeing our post, then why are there so few likes in comparison?” This is an ego trip I am working though, please forgive me. And like our posts in the meantime, will ya!;-)

This is not a blog article about social media and all of its pros and cons, mind you, but I do think it is of growing importance for us to collectively ask how we want the future of social media to serve in our society. This piece is about my own investigation into what the purpose of the farm’s Instagram (IG) account is and how we can use it most wisely. 

Since the inception of our IG, the business model for our farm has changed significantly, and is still evolving. We are no longer a retreat center. We cancelled most events last year due to Covid and are not counting on holding many this year due to Covid. In this moment, we are a thriving residential community growing food and medicine for ourselves and small CSA’s and apothecaries. We have a 5000 plus square foot warehouse that is awaiting an amazing business to occupy it and bring good energy here. We host outdoor classroom children programs, and fireside events. We held a farmers market here last year selling produce, plants, medicine, art and flowers but have decided to not do it this year and set up an honorary farmstead instead. I cannot wait to resume hosting Appalachian Tea Ceremonies.  I am writing more, and would like to blog more regularly about nature connections. We have an amazing nature trail and tons of gardens that people, animals, birds. insects and more get to appreciate. These are things I like to keep present with the community about through Instagram.

We are not totally sure what the future “business” model of this farm is; however, I do know that I have fallen in love with the IG platform as a way to hone our visions, chant our mission, document and share our experiences, help fill our events, be inspired by and learn from others about what they are doing in the world, make connections, support other organizations and people who are doing good work, and, hopefully, inspire people to love our earth, care for her well, and find the beauty that exists in everyday. 

Why would you want to follow our IG account? I am always asking- what is it our followers are getting? Are we serving you well? You would most likely follow us if you wanted:

-To be inspired to consciously steward a piece of earth

-To learn about events happening on the farm

-To learn about other people’s work, events etc… who are doing similar work in the world

-To learn about plants as allies 

-To receive beauty of the everyday

-To be informed of any other updates and outreach the farm would like to share

Who am I posting for? To be honest, I am posting for myself first and foremost, as it is so so fun and inspiring for me to do. If I weren’t a full-time property manager/earth steward, I would be a documentarian journalist, so I absolutely adore having our own news feed for our farm! I’ve kept journals and scrapbooks religiously my whole life so this is just a fun extension of that. Next, I post for any person who is wanting to connect with plants, and/or engage in simple living on planet earth, kindly and respectfully. I post for seekers of beauty. I post for my appreciation of all those folks doing the good work of transforming our world.

What is the intention of this Instagram? The intention is multi-fold- to help our farm be known, to inspire, to connect, and to get reflections from the community.

How does time spent on this social media platform add up as far as serving the higher good? Ooh oh oh now that is a good question and a matter of opinion, no doubt. I have found social media to be a knife- it can help nourish, or it can do serious harm. I so appreciate that Instagram is a personal barometer for where I am in needing the outside world to either affirm my worth or satisfy my indefinite grasping for something out ‘there’ to fulfill my longings. Knowing the perils of social media, I have very firm boundaries with it. I fast from it completely on Sundays, and a couple other weekdays, and only check it in the mornings in the days I am on it. Once 11am hits- no more of that stuff. I certainly do not have notifications turned on. That may sound extreme, but I have a lot to do in the world and don’t won’t to get carried away in someone else’s virtual life. Plus, being a triple earth sign born in the year of the Ox, I am all about clear and concise boundaries and need to have my hands in the ground! I have found that with this clarity, I can use this tool for the best, and I do feel at this juncture that the pros of its service outweigh the cons.

So tell your grandma, best friend, spouse and great uncle to get on Instagram and follow us and like our posts!! I’m kidding, (sort of) but maybe this writing will encourage you to ask yourself these questions too, if you are on social media, so that we can use this powerful tool collectively in a healthy, respectful way, and not get banned from platforms like some people we know 😉