Here's a new development from the Bay Area: community canning events.
The organizers are hosting an event once a month that brings hundreds of pounds of produce to a local community kitchen. Attendees help with chopping, cooking, and canning at the kitchen and then receive a share of the results at a "pick-up party" a few days later. The group that is putting these on is called Yes, We Can.
They are processing Apricots in June, Cucumbers in July, and Tomatoes in September. Patricipants have the opportunity to buy a "work-share" where they help out with the canning or a more expensive share that does not require work. Not surprisingly, the work shares are sold out and there are still the normal shares for sale. This kind of canning is more valuable as an experience than the canned products gained from participating.
It is intimidating to start preservation from a food safety point of view and I am sure the attendees will get a jump-start on the canning process and have the confidence to continue on their own for the rest of the season. I have seen these types of events in individual homes, but this is the first time I have seen it on a more organized scale.
Maybe your farm can connect with a determined local food advocate to get your produce used in an event like this? I think this is an interesting concept to emulate around the country. It is canning as weekend entertainment; participants attain new skills and a great story to tell as they eat the fruits of their labor this winter.
We've posted about canning in the past:
Nine practical solutions for the consumption of home canned food
Canning is ideology in a jar
Added a number of good-looking Small Farm Central sites to the View Samples page.
Landisdale Farm. Jonestown, PA
Longacre Farm. Newport, PA
Eye Dazzler Alpacas. Westcliffe, CO.
Youngblood Grassfed. Grannis, AK.
Agriberry Farm. Studley, Virginia
Oak Ridge Farm. Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Eden View Organics. Tyrone, Pennsylvania
Willow Haven Farm. New Tripoli, Pennsylvania
West Liberty Farm. DuBois, PA
Growing Home Coop. Moorestown, New Jersey
We'll have the third premium template ready for consumption on your local website in the next 10 days or so. In the meantime, whet your appetite with this preview.
After template #2, Rustic, we decided to go more modern and polished as a contrast.
Get started with Small Farm Central to use this template.
We'd love to hear what you think! Leave a comment, send us an email,
We posted a blog entry a few weeks ago about Twitter and the ways that farmers are using it promote their farms. This is a new medium and has a lot of buzz around it, which should leave us suspicious. However, I do think that this platform has a lot of promise as an easy way to keep up with customers during the busy summertime.
More on that later, though.
We've found our way of using Twitter. This is not the "I'm eating ham and pineapple pizza and drinking a coke" variety of Twittering. We are posting updates, improvements, and new feaures of Small Farm Central which you can view in Twitter. The posts on features are being pulled into the control panel.
If you are an SFC user, you can view the Feature Feed in your control panel by going to the top-right hand corner of the control and finding the link for the "feature feed". You will see that we have been busy.
For everyone else, you can view our "Feature Feed" on Twitter. In addition, we are posting on a daily basis to highlight recipes, blog entries, and photos posted to Small Farm Central sites. Here are a few of our latest updates:
W Liberty Farm eater asks "How to eat seasonally within reason?" Dave talks of winter gardening, ferment., canning, etc: http://bit.ly/K6WmL
"What is best for the bees?" Leaf tells the story of several swarms - eventually leading the bees off his rural TN farm: http://bit.ly/RzHVa
"Bohemian" artisan breads cooling in a scrumptious pile at Twin Forks Farm Breads near Nashville, Tennessee: http://bit.ly/cB6nB
This is a fun way for us to highlight all the great work SFC farmers are doing across the country and get our farmers more exposure. If you are writing or photographing something you think we should post about, send us a note.
So find us on twitter:
or.. visit twitter and search for Small Farm Central.
Here at Small Farm Central, we love win-win situations. There are a lot of them in local and small-scale agriculture.
We often hear from satisfied customers that you would like to pass on the word to other farmers who may be interested in our services. If we printed up some "referral" cards with basic info about Small Farm Central and a unique identifier that you could pass out to other farmers who would be interested in the service, we could then give you a couple months free service for each farm that signs up.
That's the second part of the win-win situation.
Would you be interested? Let us know.
The question of "getting ranked higher in Google" comes up all the time in my initial conversations with farmers looking into getting a website. I covered this a long time ago in a blog post entitled "Getting Right with Google", but I think it is worth stressing again:
The single best thing your farm can do for your search engine rankings is to get other sites to link to your site.
These are called inbound links and they are the currency of the web. They drive search engine results as well as human visitors to your page.
It is worth your time to build these links. As a farm, you have a lot of opportunity to build links with the online farm directories that are out there.
Today, I'd like to highlight the EatWild Grassfed Directory which does have a fee associated with the listing. The fee is a one-time $50 listing fee. Eat Wild claims 8,000 visitors per day and 3 million total, which is a lot of potential customers for your farm.
Remember to list your website. As I was looking through the directory, I noticed one Small Farm Central farm that is listed in the directory, but does not have their web address linked. This means potential customers will not find the farm's website and there is no extra Google juice given.
Eat Wild now offers some nice Google Maps of the farms that are listed which helps customers find farms geographically. The screenshot above is of the Google Maps.
Does anyone have experience with EatWild? Do you get a lot of new customers coming from this site? I have heard good things in the past, but please leave your thoughts in comments if this has worked well for you.
Following the success of the Small Farm Central premium templates, our design team will soon be offering farm-friendly custom design packages. The packages will include custom promotion for your farm, such as web site template customization, logos, brochures, stationery (letterhead, business cards, and envelopes with your logo), bumper stickers, label stickers, wooden labels for CSA crates, farm stand banners, and vehicle graphics.
All from the same great designers who work on the Small Farm Central premium templates.
To test out these new farm-centered design ideas, we are looking for a few farms to join us for design make-overs. If you are looking to step up your marketing and design with some of the custom items mentioned above, you may be right for our case study.
Why should my farm become a case study?
What is required of me as a case study?
Interested? Please contact us and let us know how we can help you to best promote your farm!
We are remodeling and upgrading our ecommerce system this Spring to make it easier to manage for administrators (that's you!) and easier to buy for customers (that's sales!).
If you are currently using ecommerce and have suggestions, be sure to let us know. Or request a demo and check it out for yourself.
Maybe I am late to the party, but I just heard about the trial run of Pepsi and Mountain Dew "Throwback" which uses a mixture of cane and beet sugar instead of the standard high-frutose corn syrup (HFCS).
This is an interesting response from the marketplace and I am curious to taste the difference even though I only very occasionally drink the stuff. A very detailed blog, BevReview.com reports:
And just what is that taste? (Yeah, I know, you are anxious!) Well, I'd like you to envision drinking a HFCS Pepsi. Now remove the syrupy residue that enters your mouth during the middle part of your tasting experience, as well as the aftertaste. Replace it with a full-bodied "Pepsi flavor", not just at the end of the drink, but during the entire experience. While HFCS Pepsi starts out a bit watery, with a bit of chemical flavor, Pepsi Throwback is cleaner, producing a consistent cola taste from first sip, while it passes over your tongue, and eventually the aftertaste as it goes down your throat.
Has anyone tried these new formulations? I don't think we need to go out and starting drinking a 6-pack/day of "Throwback", but this seems like good news for people who are concerned about HFCS in the American diet.