An innovative Gerringong farm is making huge inroads by sharing its evolving story of diversity and sustainable practices in an online network that has grown to more than 10,000 followers.
Buena Vista Farm is so successful in raising awareness and attracting business on Facebook it was showcased in a panel at a Community Boost initiative at the Sage Hotel Wollongong on Wednesday.
Workshops are being held until Friday to provide digital education and training to small businesses interested in making better use of Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook Australia director of small business Kaylie Smith said the Illawarra is one of the top two regional areas in Australia for the number if small businesses using Facebook. “Small to medium sizes businesses in the Illawarra that use Facebook contribute $160 million in economic growth”.
Buena Vista is a diverse farm and agritourist business enjoying great success.
It may have been run by one family for over 160 years but is making great use of the latest digital opportunities. Buena Vista has been in the news many times over the years for everything from growing and roasting coffee to the arrival of quadruplets in the family four decades ago. Fiona Weir Walmsley is one of those children who grew up on the farm which she now runs with her husband Adam Walmsley.
The Walmsley’s were inspired by their love for quality organic produce to open the farm to the public by establishing a cooking workshop business to teach the basics of fermentation, bread baking and how to make dairy products. And in 2013 decided to create Beuna Vista Facebook page to support their newest venture.
The farm has built a strong following by sharing it's story through highly visual, engaging, authentic posts on Facebook and Instagram. Awareness is so high that its cooking courses book out months in advance.
There are many different workshops including a bean to barista course where participants get to harvest coffee and take part in every part of the process.
Interest from its social media posts draw visitors from all over Australia. Mrs Weir Walmsley said the efficiency of Facebook in being able to reach their audience was amazing.
“I previously had some experience using Facebook promoting a food blog I used to do,” she said.
“We had really good connection with readers on Facebook so we moved on there with Buena Vista because we knew it would be a nice visual story”.
Buena Vista has everything from beehives for honey to hens, cows, goats and a market garden supplying local produce to many restaurants who supply scraps back to the farm for use in compost.
“When we started the market garden we had a bit of a sense that it would create an online story that people would love to participate in. The Facebook platform worked incredibly well. It encourages conversation and people love to connect. Facebook has been very good at community building and making people feel like they were part of what we are doing here.”
Workshops are held every weekend in the farm house and a commercial kitchen on the farm. They include a bean to barista workshop where participants take part in everything from the picking to roasting.
“And we have a goat dairy that has just been commissioned. We are milking dairy goats and we have a cheese room where we are commercially making goats cheese.
“It is delicious and we have told that story online from the beginning. They have watched us tell this wonderful visual story and joined and engaged with us on our journey,” she said.