Sisters use Instagram to share farm support message

Two sisters from Rivers, Man., are showing they are a force to be reckoned with in farming and fashion. But more importantly, they are increasing awareness on topics such as mental health and the agri-food industry, while empowering women and creating a positive space via their Instagram platform @thetulepps.

“One of our goals with The Tulepps is to share facts and positive aspects of farming and agriculture,” said Cassandra Lepp, the eldest of the two sisters. “But, we didn’t want to have a page on farming alone. We wanted to target a broader demographic. We think incorporating (the) fashion side into it opens the doors to a more diverse audience. We feel this (is what) sets us apart.”

She said they provide a clear and factual voice for the agricultural industry, and by incorporating their love of fashion, it also gives them a creative outlet. Their fashion photos provide them some contrast and reprieve from the physically demanding, sometimes tedious and dirty work of farming.

Cassandra credits her younger sister for being the mastermind behind the fashion shoots and for opening the door to their sideline modelling gig.

“Stefanie has professional training in modelling and is a photographer,” said Cassandra.

Stefanie said more local modelling jobs have turned up since they started having a fashion aspect on their Instagram page.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to be published in a magazine, work with local brands, and make this sort of a tiny niche for ourselves in the industry.”

The sisters manage all of the farming decisions and workload and also help with their dad’s aerial spray business while working on a transition plan to fully take over the farm.

Their parents never made them feel as though there were certain things they couldn’t do because they were women, including farming.

“Society often puts you in a box and we just don’t agree with that concept. Our parents are very open-minded and supportive,” said Cassandra.

The sisters are humbled by the outpouring of support they have received from their Instagram followers, now totalling more than 14,400.

The Tulepps have also just finished shooting a story for CBC Life, conducted an interview with CTV Morning, have participated in podcasts, and have been asked to attend the Farm Credit Canada Young Farmers summit and Cargill Market Sense think-tank in Winnipeg.

“All of this is exciting for us and we just hope that we are putting out a positive message on agriculture and helping the public learn,” said Cassandra. “We want to be part of the conversation.”

The sisters try and educate the public on the misconceptions about such things as genetically modified crops and the myths surrounding chemical use, and provide easily understandable lessons about where food comes from. They want to provide the public with factual information to encourage them to make their own decisions, instead of buying into the propaganda inundating media.

“The disconnect between agriculture — where our food comes from and the rest of society — is huge,” Cassandra said. “The world’s food is produced by less than two percent of society in North America. Ninety percent of farms in the world are family farms and they produce 80 percent of the world’s food. We want people to have someone in the industry to talk to.”

They also believe they can help educate the public on other important topics, such as mental health.

“We want our page to be real, and it is. We are authentically ourselves and I think that is why we have gained over 14,400 followers in under two years.”

Stefanie agreed: “We hope to spread awareness not only to the farm community, but also a broader audience about mental health. It’s so important for everyone and the more it’s talked about, the better chance we have of dealing with it. We want to keep the conversation going and be a positive place for people to come.”

As well, the sisters hope to inspire other women to live their best life and not be defined by self-imposed or societal limitations.

“It is our hope that we can empower women and anyone to follow their passions and live life to the fullest,” said Cassandra.

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