As farmers continue to pivot to new ways of selling their products and services to consumers during the age of COVID-19, the Visit NC Farms app is helping facilitate greater connection.
With concerns about the supply chain and product availability, and the desire for locally produced food, consumers are turning to the state’s farmers in greater numbers. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) piloted the Visit NC Farm app in 2018 as part of its agritourism marketing initiative. The goal is to connect consumers to local farms and local food in real time. The app is now expanding statewide. Currently, 22 counties, four state farmers markets, and nearly 700 farms, markets or other agricultural based destinations are included.
Several counties in the Carolina Farm Credit territory are participating: Alexander, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Cleveland, Iredell, Moore, Lee, Orange, Person, Randolph, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yadkin. Others are in the process of going live.
“Our goal is to have all 100 counties represented as swiftly as possible,” says Annie Baggett, agribusiness developer and agritourism marketing specialist with NCDA&CS.
The app helps consumers find agribusiness points of interest and reflects a wide range of categories including farms and fisheries, pick your own, farmers markets, local food and drink, shop local, farm stays and lodging, tours and trails, and special events.
Users can find destinations close to them with a touch map that allows them access to individual farm information with the push of a button. Another feature allows the user to receive notifications based on interests or regions of the state. They also can search by farm product.
“Individually, it may be hard for a farmer to attract large numbers of consumers. Collectively, through this statewide marketing initiative and with the Visit NC Farms app, growers and producers can attract the kinds of consumers and the number of consumers that will support the farmer’s business model how, where, and when they conduct business,” says Annie.
For farms interested in being part of the Visit NC Farm app, Victoria Patterson, NCDA&CS administrative leader and marketing assistant, shares these steps to get started:
- Download the free app from the App Store or Google Play and explore how North Carolina farms and agriculture-related destinations that welcome guests are being featured and promoted.
- Click on the App Info button to submit information to either get your farm or business listed on the app or to request that your county join the app.
- To learn which counties have joined, check https://visitncfarmstoday.com/counties-map to find the most up-to-date map of counties that are involved in the app.
- If your county or region is not included, these guidelines provide information on getting started with cost requirements.
- Cost share funding is available to join the app on a first come, first served basis. Apply here for cost share funding.
What Do You Get for Your Investment?
- Your business’s presence on Visit NC Farms app, a virtual directory that puts your business at the fingertips of consumers.
- Access to real-time marketing features within the app, including special event listings and push notifications reaching a growing list of users.
- Promotional materials including Visit NC Farm app signs, window clings, and website badges to build awareness of this marketing resource within your county.
- Cross-promotional opportunities, including social media posts highlighting your business on NC Farms App social media.
This is part of a 4-part series on social media resources. Google My Business, a free tool, helps increase your online presence in Google Search and Google Maps. Facebook now owns Instagram and helps facilitate cross posting. Devine Farms shares their social media strategy. Visit NC Farms is a new app introduced by NCDA&CS.
By Leah Chester-Davis