Washington commodity groups will reach out to the general public with a TV show aimed at bridging the gap between farmers and food consumers.
The “Washington Grown” television show debuts at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 6 on Northwest Cable News, as part of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers and the Washington Potato Commission’s Washington Grown campaign.
The show aims to reconnect farmers with the urban public, said Kara Rowe, outreach and affairs director for the wheat association.
Chris Voigt, executive director of the commission, said the program is a food show with an agriculture message. Each of the 13, 22.5-minute episodes will highlight a different food, restaurant or recipe, and then provide the “backstory” of the ingredients, he said.
“Food is sexy,” Voigt said. “We have television stations devoted to just food. If we were just to produce an agriculture TV show, I don’t think it would attract much interest. But because it’s a food show, a lot more people are going to hear the agriculture message.”
Rowe hopes the show will help make inroads to inform the public about “why farmers do what they do,” including the importance of pesticides, best management practices and crop rotations or mono-cropping.
“People hear these terms and immediately have different perceptions and associations with those words,” Rowe said. “We’re trying to explain there’s a reason why we have these tools, why we use them in the most efficient and effective way.”
The more information to the average citizen about farmers, the better for the industry, Voigt said.
“It’s really about maintaining that social license to operate,” he said. “Once people don’t understand your industry, they’re much more likely to step up and start regulating it.”
Rowe said production is beginning on the second 13-episode season of the series.
Voigt and Rowe would both like to see a season expand from 13 to 26 episodes, bringing more agriculture groups on line. That will help support the budget, Rowe said.
The commission is committed to spending $250,000 a year for five years to the Washington Grown effort.
Rowe declined to give a specific figure for cost of the show, calling it “a good chunk of our budget.”
Rowe would like to expand the series to cover the diversity of climate zones and crops in Washington, and hopes the series could become a staple in people’s households.
“I’d love to showcase every farmer in the state,” she said. “That might be a little bit of a high goal. But we’d love to show everybody’s story.”