Radio Free Mills River

Organic Growth Goes Viral at Living Web Farms

“It all came together with this project,” says videographer Lisa Soledad Almaraz, who grew up farming.

For nearly a decade, Living Web Farms in Mills River has taught gardening, homesteading, and farming skills to encourage lifestyle resiliency. Adapting to COVID-19, the farm transitioned, like many venues, from live workshops to exclusive online learning.

But the nonprofit had a significant head start; they started producing a global audience in 2012, filming their in-person presentations and putting the content online. Today, their YouTube channel, with more than 700 professionally produced, feature-length videos, boasts approximately 135,000 subscribers while attracting thousands more each month. Topics range from low-sugar baking and artisan breadmaking to DIY plumbing, home butchery, small-engine repair, and career agriculture (grain production, fruit-tree grafting, animal husbandry, biodynamics, and more).

The project also donates produce grown at the farm to local food banks and supports other learning sources, such as the WNC Organic Growers School. Multimedia Director Lisa Soledad Almaraz helps create and manage content for Living Web Farms.

Especially during COVID-19, people are so eager for this kind of DIY information.

Yes, we’ve seen a big surge of interest in the content. We still produce all the content from the farm, but without a live audience. … Living Web Farms already had years of content to share.

You used to be a record producer in LA. How did a media pro get into farming?

I’m an avid gardener, grew up on a small Texas ranch, and won more competitions in the FFA [Future Farmers of America] than literally any other kid in the state. I’ve also been in media for 40 years. I had my own radio show when I was 14 years old, with keys to the station so I could open it up and turn on all the equipment after waking up at 4 am.

Sounds like this is your true calling.  

I came to NC in 1998, worked in multimedia, and it all came together with this project, which is all about building life from the soil. We have some of the top experts in the field, people who are huge names in agriculture. Free, direct access to them can save people a lot of money. 

What’s the easiest way to access of that? 

YouTube. All the videos are there. We also have a Soundcloud channel where every video is available as downloadable audio for offline listening … and a blog you can find on our website where presenters go into detail on many topics.

Don’t you also have a radio channel?

Yes, Eartheart Network Radio from Living Web Farms, hosted by gardening expert Patryk Battle. We do hundreds of radio shows and archive them. Any week in the year, you can pull up a show that tells you what to do in the garden that particular week. You can time travel with gardening advice.

Living Web Farms, Mills River. For more information, visit the video link on livingwebfarms.org and Living Web Farms on YouTube. 

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