Nov 2, 2009

Member Assembler Keeps on Improving!

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We are busy tweaking and testing our updates to the Member Assembler, our CSA Member Management platform. We have a new logo, new website look, better sign-up process, new pricing, more features, and more. I'm excited to show it off to everyone.

Look for the new Member Assembler ad in your next copy of Growing for Market. Have you seen our ads in Growing for Market over the past year? They are pretty fun -- we'd love to hear some feedback that you have seen the ads!

Hopefully we'll have the updates out by the end of the week. That's the great thing about a service like Small Farm Central -- we get to continually work for you based on your feedback and keep our services ever improving.

I hope you are having a good Fall and maybe taking a break from a long season. You will be hearing more about the Member Assembler in the coming week!

Oct 13, 2009

September Photos of the Month

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Notable harvest photos posted by our farmers in September

Salem Road Farms has a gorgeous harvest of red hot peppers. Wagner Farms farmstand in Corrales, New Mexico is overflowing with New Mexico green chiles.
Bloomfield Farm in Charlotte, Vermont is raising a photogenic pig!

The Grass Whisperer spots a rainbow over grassfed cattle near Deansboro, New York.

Oct 6, 2009

Weekend Recipe: The Versatile Mashed Sweet Potato

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Among my favorites of the orange foods is the sweet potato. Don’t let the rich, sweet flavor fool you, this variety has a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes and packs a nutritional punch of beta carotene and vitamin c. Just like regular potatoes, sweet potatoes can be served mashed alongside a favorite roasted meat. Here are a couple versatile ways you can prepare mashed sweet potatoes to complement your meal.

Orange-Basil Sweet Potatoes
About 2.5 pounds sweet potatoes (2 large)
1/2 cup orange juice (unsweetened, no pulp)
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil or 1-1/2 tsp. dried basil
kosher salt to taste

Peel sweet potatoes and cut to a large dice (about 1-inch cubes).
Steam for about 20-30 minutes until fork tender.
Mix in other ingredients.

If you want more orange flavor, you can add 1/2 tsp. of orange flavor (natural) or orange zest to bump up the citrus.

Honey-Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed in 2-inch cubes
1 tbs. honey
1 tbs. brown sugar
sea salt
1 tbs. olive oil
1⁄4 cup half and half
2 tbs. butter
1 canned chipotle pepper with 1 tbs. of the adobo sauce it comes in, chopped
(note that is one pepper from the can, not one can! Very hot.)

Heat oven to 400° F.

Toss the potatoes with the oil, salt, honey and brown sugar. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes until fork tender. Mash the potatoes with the half and half and the butter. Add the chopped chipotle and 1 tbs. sauce. The texture will be coarser than mashed potatoes because of the roasting, but the flavor is worth it.

Find seasonal recipes for all of your CSA produce at The Expatriate’s Kitchen,

Oct 1, 2009

Young Farmers in the News, on the web, and on the silver screen

Posted by: Small Farm Central

p> America's farmers are getting older by the numbers and the next generation needs to stand up so our country can eat into the future. This demographic challenge has received a lot of attention within the agriculture community for many years and the issue is now entering the consciousness of the wider media.


40 Farmers Under 40

The Mother Nature Network released an interesting feature last month featuring the work of "40 farmers under 40". Some of the top entries include a pop signer turned avocado farmer, farmer/writer Zoë Bradbury, and filmmaker Ian Cheney of King Corn renown.

Maybe you will find someone you know in the list? We know farmer #14, Lyndon Hartz of Hartz Organics because he uses our website services.

Not surprisingly, this list features farmers in the sustainable farming movement rather than the conventional farming track.

The Greenhorns Movie

A group of young farmers, they call themselves the Greenhorns, is in the process of finishing a feature-length documentary on the young farmer movement. The filmmaker has energetically travelled around the country filming young farmers at work while in the process of starting her own farm in the New York City area.

Here is the trailer for the movie:

More Young Farmers on the Web

There's a lot more about young farmers all over the world wide web. Here are some selected articles:


Having young people coming into farming is not a choice, it is necessary demographic change as our farmers age. I am heartened that young farmers are so passionate about what they do and so prolific is recording their journey!

Sep 23, 2009

Photogenic Premium Template Released

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We previewed the "Photogenic" template last week and now it ready for the prime time. Get started today to take advantage of this new template. One special part of our "premium templates" is that they are limited in quantity, so they will go fast!

View the test site at:

Customizable Options

  • Each photo on both the home page and the internal pages are editable by the farmer through a new "draggable" interface we have created for this template. It's pretty slick!
  • Add your own logo in the upper left hand corner of the site (to replace the default image of the windmill and the barn).
  • Choose one of four color palettes. You may view the template with the various color palettes by clicking these links (1, 2, 3, 4).
  • As always the title and all other content on the page is updated by the farmer through our easy-to-use control panel.


We hope you like it as much as we do!

Sep 21, 2009

A Full Domain Name Matters and Other Domain Driven Thoughts

Posted by: Small Farm Central

A domain name is defined as:

" identification label that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control in the Internet, based on the Domain Name System (DNS)."

That doesn't help much, does it? Basically, a domain name is something like that identifies your website on the internet. This is obviously an important decision as you start a farm website and one you have probably thought about.

If you don't have a domain name yet, search for your preferred address at

We've covered domain names in the past, but here are some basic thoughts to keep in mind as you make that decision:

  1. Shorter is better. For example, if your farm name is Beautiful Meadows Artisan Cheeses and Dairy, is better than
  2. If available, always use the "dot-com" address. I have heard .com addresses referred to as downtown real estate while other address endings like .info, .us, .name, etc are in the suburbs -- you want a downtown store front so your website is easy to find. (Of course, you may want to be .org if your farm is a non-profit.)
  3. Buy your domain name today even if you do not plan to start your website in the near future. It costs about $10/year and we can still host your site in the future no matter where you register it. is a popular domain registrar (a registrar is a company that registers domain names).
  4. Consider registering your domain name for longer periods such as 5 or 10 years, because you do not want to be in a situation where your domain name accidentally expires. This is what one of our farmers is dealing with right now and it can be a real pain to get it back online while your email and website are in limbo. It's low cost and your farm is going to be around in 5 years right?
  5. Think twice about using a "sub-domain" address like or We always encourage farmers to use a full domain name like because you will have complete flexibility for your website into the future. If you have a address, you are limited to using blogspot's service. If you want to upgrade or move on, your signs, business cards, customer bookmarks, and etc will need to be reprinted or changed.
  6. All Small Farm Central sites are hosted at a full domain name. If you purchase a subscription, we'll take care of your domain name for you so you don't have to worry about it! If you already have a domain name when you start your website with us, we'll explain exactly how to re-point the domain name at our servers. It's not hard.

Is your preferred domain already registered? We'll cover that soon in the blog. In the meantime, if your domain name is registered by someone else, let us know via email and we'll help you pick an alternate domain name.

Sep 14, 2009

A 'Photographic' Premium Template

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We'll have a new premium template out for your farm website in the next few weeks. Here are the mock-ups. This template gives you a chance to show off all of your great farm photography!

Homepage of new premium template

Internal page of new premium template

Sep 9, 2009

Product Graph Feature Released

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Our newest feature, product graphs, which I discussed at length last week has been released.

If you are a current Small Farm Central subscriber, you may access the product graphs by logging in to your control panel and navigating to:
Create Content / Products / Product Graphs

If you need help with the product sliders, read the detailed help document. If that still does not help, let us know!

If you are not a current customer, but want to check out the new feature, request a demo.

Sep 3, 2009

New Feature: Product Availability Graphs

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We will be introducing a new feature in the next week or two: product availability graphs. These graphs help your customers visualize what is seasonal throughout the year; this is both educational and practical. Educational because eaters will understand what crops are available in your climate throughout the year and practical because they know what to expect in their CSA box or at the farmers market throughout the season.

Product availability graphs have been around on farm websites for a long time, but they were usually created in an external program like Photoshop or Excel, then an image was created, and then the image was posted to the website. This is not a very flexible or scalable approach -- some issues include:

  • What happens when you want to add a new crop? 
  • How much time does it take to update the image? How many steps are involved?
  • What if you need to adjust the time of year that a product is available because you installed a high tunnel?
  • What happens when you lose the original file or the staff member who created it leaves your business?
  • The image based approach is problematic because of scaling and pixelated images.

Our new product availability graph feature in Small Farm Central solves these issues and adds some new twists.

Here is an example vegetable product graph as it would look to customers visiting your website:

Below is a screenshot of the farm website administrator editing the same product graph. Each product availability block can be dragged earlier or later time of the year as you develop your graph or edit it later.

Our Availability Twists

  • Sliders on the administrator control panel create each product availability item; this means that you do not have to enter an exact date of availability for each product, it is a more fluid approach of dragging the bar across the screen until the season looks about right. Since harvest dates never fall on the same day each year due to weather, planting, rain, and everything else, it makes more sense to drag your availability across the screen but not promise an exact date to your customers.
  • Automatic updates of current product lists - each week, we will automatically refresh your 'current products' list based on the values that you put into your product graphs. This allows you to create your product availability graph at the beginning of the season and let Small Farm Central do the work of keeping your current products list updated as you are busy growing food throughout the summer. (Although you may choose to adjust your lists as the year progresses.)
  • Product notes - Optionally, you may give further information to your customers about each product by a defining a 'product note' that shows up when the user hovers their mouse over that particular product availability bar on your public website.
  • Create multiple graph pages as you like -- create an availability page for each category of products that your farm sells, for example, you can have a separate graph and page for vegetables, fruits, jams, added value, and more.
  • Update at any time - no need to find your original file, export the image, and upload it to your website. Simply login to the control panel, change product availability, click save and you are done! 
  • Not image based - our product availability graphs are not based on images, so they will display clearly, load faster, and are more flexible for future updates.

We are still working on a few last details for the product availability graphs, so stay tuned for a release notice in the next week or two. We'd love to hear what you think of our approach!

Sep 1, 2009

A New Basic Template

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Our newest template will be coming out in the next week or two. Note, this is not a premium template. This template is available to all subscription levels.

Enough talk, here is the initial mock-up of the site: We think it is clean and professional while retaining "organic" imagery that keeps the template botanical and agricultural.

We hope you'll love it!


  • If I had a diet plan, it would be: 1) cook for yourself 2) eat whatever you want at mealtimes, but cut the snacks 3) cut the desserts&sugars
    1 year 45 weeks ago
  • @AmyinOregon oh, neat. Glad you like them.. more coming soon!
    1 year 46 weeks ago