DROMEDARY cattle farmer and vegetable producer Craig Frost certainly knows a thing or two about promoting what he does to his potential suppliers not only in Tasmania, the mainland but also markets around the world.
Craig, who is the owner of Woodly Farm, has learnt to use social media to great effect to promote the farm, the beautiful scenery, his cattle, particularly his bull Billy, who has become a huge cult hero on Twitter, as well as Craig’s latest acquisition, Lily the dog. Craig goes under the Twitter handle Farmgate 138, the road access to the farm and he boasts almost 8500 followers worldwide.
“The farm was an original free settlers’ grant in the later 1800s and has been in our family since that original grant,” Craig said.
Originally, blackcurrants and other small fruit were grown on the farm but in the mid, to late 1900s the farm was a greyhound training facility.Craig has now reverted the farm to what it was originally with cattle and an array of vegetables grown, particularly his pride and joy, his fantastic pink eye potatoes.
“With social media, I started my Twitter handle to let my customers know what we had available and when our produce was ready,” Craig said.
“Then often because of the lack of content throughout the winter season, I began showing followers how we farm as well as how beautiful is Tasmania, particularly our region through scenic photos as well as photos of where we live. Also I wanted to showcase that farms with livestock, whatever the type of livestock, are not the evil beasts as often portrayed by some activist groups.
“Hence, Billy started getting posted and very quickly he’s become a popular and daily post on my Twitter feed. Because I hand raised him from three months, he is very quiet so I can get great photographs, but he has also been unbelievable for our farm, breeding some beautiful calves over his eight years.
Craig said the drought had been particularly difficult for all farmers throughout the country, and his farm was also suffering.
“Unfortunately, because we are not on a water scheme we are at the whim of the weather and rainfall, with this year being particularly bad. We grow pinkeye potatoes, beans, and peas, all of which have found their way into some of the best restaurants here in our area and Hobart in general. While not organically certified, we don’t use anything artificial on the produce. In the years that are too dry for a commercial crop, the livestock cover that gaps in sales.”
Craig agrees that Twitter has had the dual effect of promoting the farm and the region but it has also morphed into much more.
“People seem to love a page with content that I hope is mostly fun, often tongue-in-cheek but also sometimes just a little grumble about things I believe in.
“One of my biggest grumbles has been the Bridgewater saleyards closing a few years ago which is a major loss to the area.”
Because Craig has an enormous Twitter following he says a lot of country lifestyle companies are delighted with his recommendations of their products.
“I stick to a rigid policy of only recommending products that I truly believe in such as Wrangler, RB Sellars and Ray Ban. Some people who follow the Twitter page include musicians, Lee Kernaghan, Michelle Branch, Wolfe Brothers, as well as locals such as northern newsreader Jo Palmer, and radio commentators Brett Marley and Brian Carlton. I also have a significant following of people involved the agricultural sector, particularly in the US and the UK. Also on the list are several media followers from Australia as well as from the US entertainment industry. ”
But Billy is a mainstay on Craig’s Twitter posts. The beautiful Billy is an eight-year-old Hereford bull and weighs a massive 850 kgs. He is hand raised on a diet mix of bread, hay/straw for roughage, added pellets and vitamin powder.
Craig’s cattle are straight or a mix of Hereford, Angus and Highland.
He says that one of his Twitter aims this year is to post drone footage of farming practices. His other major project is to complete a vermin-proof fence around the property.
“You can’t grow anything without decent fencing to keep out vermin and that is a major project for completion,” he said.
As to his Twitter activity, Craig is convinced Tasmania benefits from what he posts.
“The responses from my worldwide followers are positive and in many cases, envious, that I am fortunate to live in perhaps the most idyllic part of the world.”
Craig’s photographs, a selection of which are on this page, are testimony to the beauty (and the beasts) that make up his world. Well done Craig (and Billy) for showcasing Tasmania in such a positive way.