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!
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.
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.
Something fun for Saturday afternoon!
These photos are the work of a photographer from Brazil, Vanessa Dualib, who writes "It actually started about 5 months ago when I decided to mix up 3 of my favorite things in life: photography, food and humor!"
...or heirloom breed, artisan cheese, and other less-familiar products that differentiate the farm.
I saw a page entitled "Name that Vegetable" on a non-Small Farm Central site this week.
As we expand the market for local foods beyond foodies, it becomes increasingly important to define what you are providing to customers even if it feels a bit redundant to you.
If a customer goes home with a box of CSA vegetables and they don't know what half of them are, they are likely too busy or too shy to call and ask you what each vegetable is and how to cook it. They won't be back next year if they throw out your purslane just because they don't know what it is. Your website is a perfect passive tool for customers to "Name that Vegetable" without feeling out of the loop.
According to the USDA, the United States has 12,549 farms that participated in a CSA program in 2007 (download the report here). Local Harvest reports having 2,700+ profiles of CSA farms in their database.
The USDA reports the total number of farms in the country at 2,204,792 which means about 1% of US farms participated in a CSA in 2007. I think this is a useful way to think about the CSA movement even if both numbers are flawed.
It would be more interesting to know how many local-type farms participated in a CSA program, because we know that many of those 2 million+ farms are corn/soy operations, hobby farms, or otherwise very far from participating in a CSA.
Another statistic in the report is "Produced and Sold Value Added Commodities" with 78,418 farms reporting. Maybe that is closer baseline to look at than total farms? With that baseline, the percentage of farms participating in a CSA is closer to 20%.
Either way, I think the 12,549 number is useful. It is not a complete picture depending on how you define a CSA and a farm's partipation in a CSA program. Then there is the discrepancy between the LocalHarvest number and the USDA number. More revealing will be how the numbers change over the next several years.
The next premium template is now available. We are calling it "Rustic" because it uses woodcuts from old agriculture texts to create an authentic feel that will resonate with customers of local food.
The designer says, "This template is a little less literal for Small Farm Central users, in terms of its depiction of their actual farms. What it does do though, is invoke a certain historical / cultural feel that I think will really appeal to users of the farm sites."
About the Design Process
After the initial graphics we wanted to use for this template were deemed unusable due copyright concerns (maybe we'll get them in a future template!), the Small Farm Central design team went in search of images at the Hunt Botanical Library at Carnegie Mellon University library here in Pittsburgh. We were looking for woodcut images that are in the public domain and available for use on the templates. This search proved fruitful and the library is working to get more images for us in the future. Some of the smaller details of the header, like the farm animals to the right of the header are from the library.
The main image of the farm house is from a book titled "Illustrated Historical Atlas of Elkhart Co. Indiana. 1874." Here are some shots of the book itself.
As for the other images, Matt writes "the ornamental borders are things I've printed myself from old letterpress cuts and rules, on antique printing presses." We are lucky to have such innovative designers creating templates for Small Farm Central!
New Upgrades to Premium Templates
Due to the high cost of developing these templates, only Communicator members (see plans information) have access to use these templates without an upgrade. They are a limited edition, so once all the spots are filled up for the template, no more will be given out. You can have confidence that your neighbor will not take your template!
For Sprout and Harvester subscribers, we now have a $100 one-time upgrade that allows access to the premium templates for the life of your Small Farm Central subscription. This fee will fund our work with these templates while ensuring that you do not need to make an unnecessary upgrade to the Communicator package. If you would like to upgrade, just let us know.
Template Test Site
Take the new template for a test run and visit the test site:
Of course, if you would like to enter you own information into the template and see how it looks, get a free demo to play around with for a week:
Your feedback is appreciated and will provide direction for future templates. What do you think about the new template? Post in comments
There has been a lot of buzz about the service / social media platform called Twitter. If that sounds like something a bird does, you may want to read this Twitter primer.
A twitter message is much shorter than blogging. They are really just fragments of a sentence along the lines of "this is what I am doing now." It has the advantage of being less time-consuming than blogging and it is easy for customers to follow the posts. This has become so much of a trend that professional athletes and other celebrities have Twitter accounts. Twitter has even led to mistrials because jurors were Twittering their thoughts.
I am not a Twitter user, but I caution you, this could become an addictive service! The farm Twitter accounts I looked had at least 3-4 posts per day. They are limited to 140 characters, so I suppose it is not a huge time sink. I would still urge caution!
A farm Twitter post might look like this: "Our dog has taken to eating chicken feed, right alongside the chickens. This is better than eating chickens but still not ideal. " -5:10 AM Apr 2nd
Farm Aid is twittering away and there are many farmers turning to the platform because it is such a low stress way and easy way to communicate. It is a completely different concept and takes a while to understand and appreciate what is going on with Twitter. Here are few farmers using Twitter: Frog Bottom Farms or Franciscan Family Family Farms (Grass-based Blogging in a Corn-based World).
Has anyone out there taken on Twitter? If so, send us your link.