In order to be a disrupter, in any industry, unconventional methods are often required. Will Bergmann follows this philosophy, in the best possible way. As a young, modern-day farmer growing canola near Winnipeg, Will has seen his fair share of media maelstroms, news cycles and self-proclaimed activists dictating what the next big story will be. Debunking myths in his free time, Will was an early social media adopter who quickly discovered that building relationships was essential for success in connecting with people online, but there was even more to gain by making it personal.
“I realized that social media was beneficial in a number of ways, particularly around food and farming. I shared my story and was passionate about taking photos and having an open discussion about agriculture and food,” says Will. “As I became more involved, the Canola Growers helped me tremendously in understanding how to talk to different platforms and outlets.” An avid photographer, and part owner in Oxbow, the on-trend farm to table it-spot in downtown Winnipeg, Will documents his day-to-day, using social media to connect with people and give them a taste for what being open and transparent looks like.
By putting a face on what farm to table really means, Will exemplifies the authenticity we all want in one another. People should be opening up- being vulnerable and being real makes us all feel less alone. But most farmers feel disconnected from the people they feed, the people they rely on to make a living, a sentiment echoed by countless other farmers in every single industry. “The problem is that the disconnect is real, but the disconnect goes both ways. Farmers don’t go in the cities enough, they don’t eat in restaurants enough, they don’t understand what’s happening, or why the majority of people distrust farms,” says Will. “They’re not fed by alternative thinking. It’s hard to change that mentality. It perpetuates itself. It makes the divide grow. Conversation, open and honest can bridge that gap.”
Which is precisely why Will opens himself up both online, and in person. Whether you’re picking up your CSA vegetable basket at his farm, or visiting his restaurant, he wants to build that relationship, nurture that understanding and respect, and offers tours at both properties to instill that message even further. He operates as an open book, and understands that this method may not work for everyone. “I believe there is not one right answer. It’s not organic vs conventional, that’s not going to solve it. It’s going to take all kinds of farmers farming in all types of ways to provide safe nutritional affordable food for everyone. We have to learn from each other and grow off each other’s successes and failures and work together to achieve those goals.”
As a farmer and restauranteur, Will understands that chefs and social media are major drivers in food trends. And driving those trends, and what consumers will then ultimately buy, is the best way to make local food matter, no matter the food.
Eat Well…Libby Roach
Libby is a food editor at auburnlane.com and photographer based out of Toronto, ON.
Her creative passion lies in weaving stories into photographs and creating images that are engaging.