“Ask a Farmer” growing 1 discussion at a time

Lanigan-area farmer and “Ask a Farmer” podcast host Clinton Monchuk.

Saskatchewan Farmer Clinton Monchuk wasn’t expecting to attract hundreds of listeners when he started his first podcast in February, but that’s exactly what happened.

Monchuk, a Lanigan-area farmer, officially launched the “Ask a Farmer” podcast with Canadian Food Focus on Feb. 15. The podcast has now been downloaded more than 400 times, well ahead of Monchuk’s expectations.

“I knew my mom was going to follow it. I knew there would at least be two, with my wife,” he says with a laugh.

“I am a little bit surprised that it is taking off a little bit stronger than I initially thought. I thought we’d only have 100 (listeners), maybe 150 so far, and we’re exceeding the expectations.”

The premise behind “Ask a Farmer” is a simple one: find out what questions consumers have about their food, then find food experts to answer it. Monchuk has hosted conversations with dietitians, grain farmers, and ranchers on topics ranging from animal welfare to the rising cost of food.

Monchuk said Saskatchewan has a strong agriculture sector, so residents often know where they can get that information, but that’s not always the case in other parts of Canada.

“When you look at my family, and another family in Toronto, at our core, our values are going to be very similar,” he explained. “We both want safe, healthy, affordable food. The thing is, there’s a lot of noise that happens, I think, when you’re outside of the farming community, or even outside of Saskatchewan.

“We have a strong agriculture sector here and a lot of discussions take place around farming. Once you get into a place like Toronto of Vancouver or Montreal, you don’t necessarily have that interaction with the agriculture industry as strongly as what you would have in Saskatchewan. I think this just gives us opportunity to get into some of those markets and make sure people understand the truth around agriculture.”

Ask a Farmer is Monchuk’s first foray into the podcasting world. He said the concept was brand new to him when he began working with Canadian Food Focus to produce it.

Originally, his biggest goal was to help Canadians understand food prices, and how increasing costs for farmers would result in rising prices at the grocery store. Since then, he’s branched out to other topics, aided by listeners who frequently email any questions they want answered.

Monchuk said it’s been a great feedback loop that helps them understand what concerns non-farmers have about their food, and the conversational-type format has created the perfect venue to answer their questions.

“We thought to ourselves, ‘we’re seeing an increase (and) pickup on podcasts, whether it’s on the agriculture side or news or whatever it happens to be,’” he explained. “We thought this would be just another avenue to get our message out and put it in an open and conversational manner. It hasn’t been officially out for more than three weeks yet, but the pickups been very good, so we’re excited to see where the growth can go.”

To download episodes of “Ask a Farmer”, visit CanadianFoodFocus.org. To submit question for the podcast, email askafarmer@canadianfoodfocus.org.