How one Colombian teenager is using social media to highlight the work of farmers

·3-min read

From explaining how much work goes into growing tomatoes to giving advice on feeding chickens or making compost, one Colombian teenager is busy educating people about farm life through a series of videos that he produces for Instagram with his older brother. His aim is to highlight the work of farmers and raise awareness about how to protect the environment.

Fourteen-year-old Carlos Alberto Díaz Colmenares lives on a farm in San Francisco, about 50 kilometres from the Colombian capital, Bogotá. He and his family moved there in 2020, just a few months after the Covid-19 pandemic began. Before, they were living in an apartment in La Vega, a nearby town.

“Farm work is hard, as we ourselves have realised. We need to value it and support it.”

This farm has belonged to my family for more than 20 years so we were already going there regularly before the pandemic and my parents have always known a lot about farming. But we decided to spend more time there starting in May 2020, two months after the start of lockdown because it was already easier to get out at that point. The farm was in a bad condition, so we worked until the end of July getting it back in shape and then my family and I moved there. During the pandemic, other people also left cities to go back to the countryside. I think that shows that we can be happy and live peacefully in the country.

In July 2020, Díaz Colmenares started making videos about farm work along with his older brother Juan, who has the role of cameraman. They post their videos on their Instagram account "La Granja del Borrego" (“Lamb’s Farm”), which has more than 281,000 followers. Some of their videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.

We filmed our first video on July 9, 2020. We had started to plant tomatoes and cucumbers and we decided to film the process to see if people were actually interested. We thought the video would probably get less than 50 views, but in the end, it was really successful [Editor’s note: the first video has more than 10,000 views]. So we decided to keep going even if, at first, I was really shy because I wasn’t used to being filmed.

Díaz Colmenares and his brother posted their first video to their Instagram account "La Granja del Borrego" on July 9, 2020.

We try to make quality videos. We want to teach people things. So I share what I learn at the farm, but I also make it funny.

In this video, Díaz Colmenares explains how to keep chickens from eating their own eggs.

Here, Díaz Colmenares shows three common mistakes people make when trying to make compost.

“Farmers often lose what they grow, especially due to weather events, even though it’s their livelihood”

I think it’s most important to show that farming is hard, as we ourselves have realised. So it needs to be valued and supported.

For example, three months after we planted the tomatoes, and after all the work of growing them, they were all destroyed by fungus. Farmers often lose what they grow, especially due to weather events, even though that is their livelihood.

In order to support farmers, you can buy their products directly from them at the market, at a fair price, because the products sold in the supermarket often aren’t purchased from farmers at a fair price.

In this video, Díaz Colmenares shows how important it is to value the tomatoes that we eat because of all the work that goes into growing them, as well as the difficulties that Colombian farmers face including flooding, droughts and even armed groups.

That said, we also try to show with our videos how much fun you can have in the country, especially with the animals. I also try to raise awareness about environmental protection, making suggestions for how to live more sustainably.

We try to raise a bit of money with the videos, which we are also posting on YouTube, but we aren’t really making much for now.

In this video, Díaz Colmenares shows how he organises “farm olympics” with his dogs.

In this video, Díaz Colmenares gives people advice on living more sustainably by, for example, eating less meat or growing vegetables.

Right now, Díaz Colmenares is attending school remotely while living on the family farm. In the short term, he’d like to start selling products from the farm and other local producers in Bogotá, for a fair price. In the long term, he’d like to study animal health.

About 32 percent of Colombians are considered farmers, according to a study from the Department of Statistics. Most of them are considered “poor”, according to this department.

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