The Rainy River Ag Forum—an online discussion forum developed as a communication tool for the local agriculture community—is being put to good use in the district.
“People are discussing things that probably wouldn’t get discussed otherwise,” noted local agriculture intern Eric Busch, who took on the initiative to get the forum up and running.
It was part of the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture’s 2005 strategic plan, completed back in September, to discover a better way for the farming community to communicate with each other.
“More and more people are joining all the time,” enthused Busch, though admitting he expects postings might slow down as the weather becomes more inviting.
“People are going to want to get outside and not sit in front of their computer all day,” he reasoned. “But it’s still a useful tool and I know it will get busy again.
“I foresee [the ag forum] going on for a while—maybe indefinitely.”
The forum, which currently has 38 registered members and more than 1,200 postings, allows agriculture organizations to post their own information or discussions; for the community to discuss topics such as locally-produced food, politics, and beef production; and to post farm items to buy, sell, or trade.
“I was hoping initially it would be a place to share technical information, but it’s become more discussion-based, which is great,” Busch remarked. “But I would like to see people sharing what they know.”
For example, he said, if someone doesn’t know where to get a part for something they’re working on or if something goes wrong, they can post a question.
“Chances are someone has had the same question and will be able to help,” he reasoned. “You can ask anything and you never know who is going to read it.”
Some of the hot topics currently on the forum include the local abattoir project and the idea of the district being a GMO-free zone.
“I’m sure everyone who has ever been on the forum has learned something,” Busch noted. “They may have even changed their opinion by reading what someone else had to say.”
Aside from the 38 registered members, Busch said there also are many people who read the postings as guests and don’t participate in the discussions.
“Lots of people read and don’t post,” he noted. “At first I was getting frustrated by it, but now I’m just happy to know people are reading it.
And Busch thinks new broadband access being introduced in the west end of the district will see more people hooking up to the Internet. “I think there will be a surge in activity,” he said.
There’s always room for more members, he stressed.
“It was started from nothing and it turned into something,” Busch indicated. “It would be great to see it grow even more than it already has.”
Check out the discussion forum at http://s14.invisionfree.com/Rainy_River_Ag_Forum