When Meredith Scott joined our team in May, she didn’t think she had a background in agriculture and she definitely didn’t know soybeans turned brown when they were ready to harvest. Without hesitation, our new PR specialist immersed herself in everything soybeans and realized she wasn’t another statistic. Until around the time she became a teenager, her grandfather raised beef cattle and grew hay in Queen City, Texas, and Doddridge, Arkansas.
Sadly, over the last five to six decades, the generational gap in agriculture has grown, especially as urban living booms. Our understanding of farming and agriculture diminishes and the question of where our food comes from gets louder. Our creative and innovative teams have to work harder to make sure our neighbors know about the number one business in Arkansas, agriculture.
Promoting Arkansas Soybeans
Since joining forces 8 years ago with the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, we have soaked up every bit of information we can about soybeans like little soy sponges.
Our public relations, creative and digital teams continue to create tactics to reach Arkansans and educate them about the Natural State’s $2 billion soybean industry, like this documentary. As we’ve watched Meredith learn soybeans aren’t just edamame and tofu, they’re in ink, foam insulation and the Statue of Liberty, we’ve watched Arkansans learn the same things.
But it doesn’t mean we’re done with the conversation about soybeans.
In 2010, our PR team applied for a proclamation dedicating an entire month to soybeans and the men and women who produce them. On November 30, we wrapped up our seventh Arkansas Soybean Month.
To promote this mouth-watering month beyond an official proclamation from Governor Asa Hutchinson, we organized and hosted a launch dinner at Three Fold Noodles + Dumpling Co. and kicked off our Kitchen|Fields Table Tour.
Our PR and creative teams worked with our client to create an exciting event for the board members and food bloggers at one of the top-rated restaurants in Little Rock. Once Three Fold was on board, we worked with owner Lisa Zhang to create a soy-focused menu like never before featuring a delicate mix of Chinese cuisine and American culture.
Food for Thought
On November 2, Lisa Zhang and her crew at Three Fold closed their doors to the public and graciously welcomed the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board’s members, researchers, bloggers and editors from around the state to get the conversation about Arkansas’s 91-year history of soybeans started. The guest list featured Arkansas’s Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Cynthia Edwards, University of Arkansas Associate Professor of Nutrition Sun-Ok Lee, Ph.D., and members of the Arkansas Women Bloggers.
After an educational night of food with roots, it was time to take the Kitchen|Fields Table Tour on the road. Through a partnership with 10 restaurants across the state and the Arkansas Women Bloggers’ Debbie Arnold, Kellee Mayfield and Lyndi Fultz, we are able to keep the conversation going beyond November.
Speaking Fluent Soybean
This conversation isn’t just about tofu and edamame. This conversation is about how the various uses of soybeans help our health, homes and economy function. It’s to tell Arkansans the 3.1 million acres harvested each year are more than rice, corn, sorghum and wheat combined. It’s to tell our neighbors 91 years ago, Jacob Hartz Sr. planted the first soybean crop in Arkansas and today, his grandson, Doug Hartz serves on the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.
This conversation is to say Arkansas soybean producers are locally grown families with a passion for soybeans, working every day to provide for their own families and families around the world. It’s to tell people where their food comes from and where it goes.
Take Cassie Davis and her family. The Davis family raises dairy cattle in Washington County, Arkansas. Their 175 head of cattle enjoy a diet featuring soybeans, so if you buy milk from their cows, you’re consuming soybeans. Which is why we created the Kitchen|Fields Table Tour, to encourage Arkansas consumers to eat soyfoods and soy-fed protein – beef, chicken, pork, farm-raised catfish and so on. When you do, you support soybean producers and Arkansas’s economy.
To track engagement during Arkansas Soybean Month, we encouraged – and still do – consumers to use the official hashtag, #ARSoySupper, when visiting one of 10 partner restaurants. The Kitchen|Fields Table Tour will run through June 2018. Our PR team will work with Arkansas-owned restaurants each month and promote a specific menu item featuring a soy food. In the past, some restaurants created new menu items that received rave reviews and earned a permanent spot on the menu, like The Southern Gourmasian’s Thai chicken burger.
Partnering for the Future
As we reflect on November, it’s hard to believe how quickly the time leading up to Arkansas Soybean Month came to a close. Maybe that’s because we had a great time partnering with Arkansas businesses to tell the story of fellow Arkansans.
I guess what they say really is true, “Time flies when you’re eating soybeans with friends.”
We hope you will continue to follow us as we promote the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and learn more in the process.