Ben Wenk Grandfather
Ben Wenk, Three Springs Fruit Farm

After graduating from college in 2006, seventh-generation grower Ben Wenk realized his destiny lay at Three Springs Fruit Farm in Wenksville, Pa. “My family was so encouraging, wanting me to return to the farm, but make it my own.” The urge to contribute led Wenk to the Headhouse Farmers Market, where he would develop a Philly following on social media.

With just a few months until market-time, he created a MySpace page. “We wanted our presence known even before we made our first appearance. Social media gave us a platform to reach consumers and tell our story.” It took only minutes to realize the benefits of social media, and it was then that Wenk understood his new focus.

Today, he is a regular on Twitter and Facebook and has built a community that includes consumers, local chefs and food purveyors.

Ben Wenk’s Gen-Y perspective gave his family orchard a push into the 21st century. Here are his tips to help growers build awareness and community using social media:
1. Read and Respond. Watch how others are using social media tools and see what resonates, and replicate.
2. Know your audience. For us it’s consumers, media and chefs. We tailor our messages to engage with these folks.
3. Post updates with viral potential. We posted about a bulk apple discount and saw it re-Tweeted by four or five well-followed accounts. Instantly the message was disseminated within several networks of thousands of people.
4. Post quality, important information and your followers will naturally come. Make sure what you’re saying is worth the time to read.