When 37-year-old mom of four Suzanne Cook decided that she wanted to start farming on the plot of land she shared with her boyfriend, she went into the experience without any idea of what she was getting herself into.
It’s been six years since the couple first decided to become first-generation farmers, entering the time-honored occupation without any prior experience. And while publishers initially spurned Cook’s proposals to write a memoir about the struggles of learning agriculture for the first time, she found a niche where fans were able to follow her journey visually, instead—and now, she’s become a viral sensation because of it.
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Cook told Inside Edition that she had wanted to share the immense struggles she endured while learning to balance motherhood and working on a farm, which was what initially brought her to propose a book idea.
“As a mom, you are under twice the stress of a male farmer. You don’t have someone cooking you a hot dinner and bringing it to you on the tractor,” Cook said in the August interview. “You are the one stopping your work, running home to cook the family dinner, then running back to the tractor to finish your work.”
Publishers didn’t think there was enough draw for the story, turning her down due to a lack of market for “anything agriculture related,” she explained. But when she turned to YouTube to document her experiences instead, she discovered that there were plenty of people who wanted to hear what she had to say—and that she was pretty good at saying it, too.
She started her YouTube channel in June of 2017, posting videos of nothing special in particular—just little glimpses into the lives of a pair of first-generation farmers who jumped feet-first into the rural life with no idea of what they were getting themselves into.
“The first couple of videos I did were cutting hay on the tractor, driving down the road. I added little bits of music in there,” Cook said.
From there, she and her boyfriend, Erik Zandstra, shared everything from the mistakes they made to their triumphs when they were able to learn new techniques or buy the right equipment. They gave their viewers a firsthand, honest look at what farming is like, incorporating things like parenting and family life balance to truly help modern generations understand what goes into farming the land.
“Follow City Girl, turned Country Girl “WTFarm Girl” as she takes on the role of “Head Farmer” on their built-from-scratch, FIRST GENERATION farm and shows her viewers that with a bit of grit and determination, you can get it done!” proclaims the YouTube channel—and that’s truly what Cook shows the world.
In the two years since she started the channel, Cook has garnered over 40,000 followers—and although she told Bloomberg that just 10 percent of her followers are women, she hopes that the channel will help inspire other women to get involved in agriculture as well.
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Even when she isn’t engaging with hopeful new future farming women, though, the community is incredible—and the reactions she gets show how the digital age can sometimes bring people together, not just tear them apart.
“It’s a community and that’s what a lot of YouTube is. People to talk to people to engage with,” Cook said. “They tell you how their crops are doing and for me personally, getting feedback on how to solve issues out here has been fantastic because we are first-generation farmers.”