Page 34 - 2018Magazine3
P. 34

High on the Hog Andrew Thompson and his son
                                                                 Aaron raise free­range hogs on their Dixie ranch

                    arketing is tough for farmers. They     research that says visitors will remember more
                    specialize in growing things – not      about a site with photos than simply text. And
                    slick ads or market surveys. But if     according to the Neilson Norman group, users
        Mthey can find a niche – a way to                   want product photos that show differences in
        communicate the pride and accomplishment            products or add to their understanding. For a
        they feel about what they produce – they stand      good example of that, take a look at Thompson
        to profit. That’s the thinking behind Thompson      Farms’ website. You can practically smell the
        Farms’ Facebook page, with its funny pictures of    smoke and hear the sizzle of the pork on the grill.
        hogs and piglets. There’s one of a hog                Thompson and his sisters hired a local website
        camouflaged by the grass captioned “hiding from     development company to help them tell the
        Monday.” There’s a newborn piglet nestled next      story of their products and the farm. The website
        to a baseball camp with the farm’s logo on it.      offers online ordering and explains their just-in-
          Basically, Thompson Farms loves its pigs. And     time shipping process. Georgia Grown also
        they think you will, too.                           offered help.  “They have opened doors for us at

              “If I can get folks to find us online then see what we’re doing, they’re going

               to come back. We’re hoping that the people will share what they’ve seen

                                       (and tasted) with other people.”

          “Our hogs are born and raised here,” says         trade shows and farmers markets,” Thompson
        Andrew Thompson, who, with his sisters, co-         says. “If it wasn’t for Georgia Grown, we
        owns the farm their father and grandfather ran.     wouldn’t be in Whole Foods.”
        Thompson Farms is non-GMO certified and               The relationship with Whole Foods has been
        offers all-natural pork – no hormones,              very beneficial, because the company sells
        antibiotics, steroids or animal-products are used   around the world, Thompson adds. The
        in the feed. Their pork comes from free-range       corporation sends auditors to the farms it works
        hogs, whose pastures never see chemical             with to verify that the grocer’s high standards
        herbicides or synthetic pesticides.                 are met. “Meeting those standards makes it
          Thompson says he learned about all-natural        easier to get our products into other food
        breeding practices from California farmers, and     stores,” Thompson says.
        immediately saw that the family farm fit right        The farm is located in Dixie, Georgia, between
        in. “We were already farming using most of          Valdosta and Thomasville. They have a retail
        those methods, so it didn’t take much more to       store on the property, and invite customers to
        get to ‘all natural,’” he says. “That niche was the  walk down to see the sows. “We use online
        only way we could stay in hogs.”                    technology, but also word of mouth,” Thompson
          But of course, there’s more to getting tasty      says. “If I can get folks to find us online then see
        hogs to market than raising them right.             what we’re doing, they’re going to come back.
          Posting cute pig pictures on Facebook is not      We’re hoping that the people will share what
        just fun, it's an idea based on solid marketing     they’ve seen (and tasted) with other people.”

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