Sep 27, 2011

Thinking about for credit card processing?

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We've had a lot of inquiries over the past few days about using for credit card processing on Small Farm Central sites. It's great to hear the interest, but we need to put a little bit more information out there about the advantages and disadvantages of using this advanced checkout option.

Some items to consider:

  • This is a full-blown credit card processor that requires a merchant account with a bank.
  • There are monthly fees that charges (in the range of $40/month).
  • You may get rates as low as 1.7% for some credit cards (such as a standard VISA card), but it is not as simple as that. Each card will have a different rate; it can be as high as 3.5% in some cases (such as American Express). These rates are negotiated with your bank and we cannot guarantee any rates.
  • You can use the same account for ecommerce payment processing as for Member Assembler.
  • As a rule of thumb, if you are doing less than $50K per year of credit card processing, Paypal is still a better option as far as your rate per transaction.
  • Customers will never leave your site to make a payment when using; all credit card numbers are sent securely through SSL encryption.
  • It takes time to set up an account and get a merchant processing account with your bank. Be prepared for a little bit of education on credit card processing as you are evaluating your options -- of course we are there to help when you have questions. Expect a minimum of 7-10 days to get everything set up.
  • Once you have a merchant account and an account, you can easily take payments through an online terminal or even get set up to have a swipe machine at your farm stand.

For the right farm, is a great option, but it is important to remember that there are some extra costs and extra set-up time. Contact us to get started with For more info read the following help docs:

Further documentation:
-Paypal vs. price comparison for Member Assembler
-Checkout options explained

Sep 21, 2011

New E-Commerce Tools!

Posted by: mikecuccaro

We've got some good news for folks who are using Small Farm Central's e-commerce and those who are thinking about starting it up. We've just completed a wide variety of upgrades and new features to really expand your capabilities to sell your products and services through your web site. Log in to your site and see what you think!

Here are some of the highlights:

Live Shipping Calculation for UPS, FedEx, and USPS:

Your customers will now see a variety of shipping options, whichever ones you've chosen out of UPS, FedEx, and USPS services. When your customer checks out, the cart shows the live-calculated retail rates for those shippers.

shopping cart


You can now create coupons to pass to your customers that can be for a percentage discount, flat amount discount, or for free shipping. You have full control over what dates and times the coupon is valid for and for what minimum amount of order.

Live Credit Card Processing:

You now have another option for setting up your checkout - live credit card processing through Authorizenet. Whatever credit cards your merchant account is set up to receive, you can limit on your checkout page. Small Farm Central will be happy to help you set up a merchant account through Authorizenet and configure secure server encryption protocols for your web site. Payments made through Authorizenet or PayPal are also now recorded for your users in the Payments and Balances administration.


"Sold Out" Messages:

Many of you have mentioned that you would like to still show customers "what they missed" when your inventory runs out of product. Now, under your Departments administration, you can set your own message to display when items, or even just specific options below items, sell out.

Streamlined Item and Inventory Management:

Instead of having to go to multiple areas to create an item and also put that item into your stores' inventories, now you can do it all at once: either through the new item creation/edit page or the new inventory management page.

Even items with options can be updated all at once to save you time. It is easier than ever to get away from the computer and back out farming!

If you have any questions or concerns at all about how to get started with the new tools, please give us a call at 412.567.3864 or email us.

Sep 16, 2011

Member Assembler FAQ No. 1: How do I collect balances from a subscriber that owes me money?

Posted by: shannon

Does one of your customers have a remaining balance that you'd like to remind them about (and receive?!) It's easy to send payment requests through Member Assembler. Here's how:

1. Head to Member Assembler in your Control Panel and click on Accounting / Payment Request.

2. Click on Add New Payment Request in the yellow bar.

3. Walk through the questions.
- What Type of Payment Request is this? Is this a set amount? (do you need a customer to pay set amount such as $100?) or is this a percentage? (would you like your customer to pay a percentage of their remaining balance such as 50%). If you want them to pay all of their remaining balance, use 100%.
- User Must Have Type: Did you want this payment request to go out to everyone? (No Member Type Narrowing); or just to your ½ shares? The pull down menu will populate all the member types you offer.
- Payment Request Email Subject: Enter in the subject title for the email (For example: Remaining Balance info for your CSA
Now it's time to draft what the email will say. You’ll see some crazy looking variables (like this: %%primary-member-name%%) Don't delete these. These will populate for each of your members.
For this example, your member's name will be populated between the %%)) There a number of different variables you can add:
%%primary-member-name%% - The name of the primary user in the membership.
%%payment-request-amount%% - The amount of the payment request.
%%current-balance%% - The balance of the membership before any payment has been made.
%%cc-payment-url%% - A unique link to your website for the member to pay online with Paypal or Member Assembler payments ( Remember to delete this variable if you are not using credit card processing.
%%member-id%% - The unique number that identifies a particular member.

When you're asking for a request for payment, you could enter this into the body of your email:
%%primary-member-name%%, We are requesting a payment of %%payment-request-amount%%. Your current balance is %%current-balance%%. Click the following link to pay online with your credit card: %%cc-payment-url%%

Your Farm Name here.

4. Click on Save and Select Users

This next screen, you'll get to see a preview of what your message is going to look like. If you see anything you'd like to change, click on "edit this payment request" in the yellow box. The final step is to select the members that should receive the payment request. This list should be populated from your “User Must Have Type:” section, from the previous screen. Simply click on the box to 'check' it, next to any of the names you'd like the email to go to.

Click on Send Email to send the email.

Still need help? We're happy to answer questions. Give us a call at 412.567.3864 or email us at

Sep 15, 2011

Greenhorns Screening Poster

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Here is the poster for the Greenhorns screening I just mentioned!

SFC Filmfinal Web
Sep 15, 2011

We're Sponsoring a Screening of the Greenhorns October 6th

Posted by: Small Farm Central

I know not too many of you are in Pittsburgh, but we're putting together a screening of the new documentary about young farmers called 'The Greenhorns' on October 6th at the Melwood Screening Room. I've met Severine (the creator of the movie) at various farm conferences over the years -- I think everyone at these conferences meets Severine. She has the kind of personality that meets everyone.

"The Greenhorns documentary film, completed after almost 3 years in production, explores the lives of America's young farming community - its spirit, practices, and needs. It is the filmmaker's hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can build the case for those considering a career in agriculture - to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming." -- from the Greenhorns website.

The screening will include a happy hour featuring local food & brews and proceeds will benefit Grow Pittsburgh.

Here are details about our screening.

Here is the trailer:

For more information on the Greenhorns, visit There are screenings going on around the country this fall, so maybe there is one in your area.

Sep 6, 2011

Time to Start Sign-up for Next CSA Season!

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We hope you are having a productive high harvest season! It feels like things are turning just slightly towards Autumn, so it's time to start thinking about your 2012 CSA sign-up.

When possible, it is smart to capture your CSA customers commitment for 2012 while the taste of ripe tomatoes are still fresh in their mouths. It may be tempting to not think about CSA sign-up until February or March, but if you can get that deposit now you are in a much better position to retain more of your membership from year-to-year.

Member Assembler (our CSA membership management tool) has the concept of "seasons" so each time it is time to start a new sign-up period you will create a new "season" that holds all of the information for those shares. This archives older data (which you can access when needed), allows you to create new pickup locations, new prices, and allows returning members to sign up again.

For a full explanation on how to create seasons, go here:

When do you start your sign-up process? If you wait until the Spring, what are the factors that stop you from starting sign-up a the end of summer?

Aug 26, 2011

A CSA-Inspired "Iron Chef?"

Posted by:

You probably won't be surprised to learn that everyone at Small Farm Central gets a CSA share each week. Not only do we love to support our local farmers, but we all enjoy meeting the challenge of creating delicious meals that feature whatever seasonal treats might show up in our vegetable boxes.

Our new web developer, Mike Cuccaro, especially loves playing "Iron Chef" with his CSA box every week, where he tries to quickly use everything in his share and not much else in preparing his food for the week. He thinks it would be fun to stage an "Iron Chef" type of event where two or three chefs are given the same CSA box, with two hours to prepare a meal that features everything in it.

An event like this could be a great way to raise money for a local charity, while providing an innovative way for farmers to connect to their communities.  Have you ever hosted any kind of food or cooking event on your farm? Tell us what you think!

Aug 11, 2011

Small Farm Central Celebrates National Farmers Market Week

Posted by:

The Small Farm Central team celebrated National Farmers Market Week (August 7-13) with a visit to one of Pittsburgh's largest and busiest places to buy locally grown food -- the East Liberty Farmers Market, managed by Pittsburgh Cityparks. You can meet some of the friendly local farmers by visiting the market's new Farming Faces site here:

We enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know some of our local farmers better, and use Farming Faces to extend western Pennsylvania's agricultural community beyond the marketplace.

Fine Family Apiary

Sand Hill Berries

Who Cooks for You Farm

Aug 2, 2011

New *Free* Map & Directory Service for Farmers Markets

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We are excited to announce the latest tool in your farm marketing toolbelt; Farming Faces allows farmers markets (and other groups of farmers) to quickly create an online directory & map of their vendors and farmers.

Your site might look a little bit like this:

View this site in your browser:

Why is Farming Faces Special?

  • Mapping and Vendor Directory. The ability to easily create a map and directory of farmers within a market or a group using Google Maps so that customers can visualize where their food comes from.
  • News Feed. Auto updating news feed aggregates farmer updates from Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Small Farm Central sites to keep an up-to-date news area without farmers having to manually update it.
  • One farm, one profile. As markets and organizations create Farming Faces sites and farmers are joined to different groups, there is only one profile for each farmer to manage. An update on one site is copied to all of the other sites a farmer is joined to, which means a minimum amount of management for farmers, and maximum reach when marketing effort is made.
  • Free. Farming Faces is free for farmers markets and smaller organizations to set up a basic Farming Faces site. Small Farm Central will charge a nominal fee for larger organizations, and for advanced features as they are added in the future, but the core service will remain free.

Sign up for a tour today!

Sign up on this page:

..and we will contact you to give you a tour of the service. If you like Farming Faces, we'll create a site for you and show you how to use it!

Forward this email on to your market manager!

Jul 9, 2011

Farming Faces Preview

Posted by: Small Farm Central

While you are busy in the fields, with your markets, and supplying your CSA, we are working on some bigger projects including upgrading our email system, revamping the ecommerce functionality, and creating a whole new service called "Farming Faces".

Farming Faces serves groups of farmers such as farmers markets, cooperatives, and advocacy organizations enabling these organizations to develop a mini-site that maps their farmer members and keeps end-consumers up-to-date on what is happening on these farms through a news feed.

This is not a national directory of farms like LocalHarvest et al. This is a tool for individual markets and other groups of farmers to market and keep their customers informed.

Some key features:

  • It's Free for farmers markets and smaller organizations to set up a Farming Faces site. We plan to charge for larger organizations and advanced features in the future, but the core service will remain free.
  • Auto updating news feed aggregates farmer updates from Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Small Farm Central sites to keep an up-to-date news area without farmers having to manually update it.
  • Beautiful map of farmers within the group using Google Maps so that customers can visualize where their food comes from.
  • One farm, one profile. As markets and organizations create farming faces sites and farmers are joined to different groups, there is only one profile for the farmer to manage. An update on one site is copied to all of the other sites the farmer is joined to, which means a minimum amount of management for the farmer and maximum reach when marketing effort is made.
  • ..and more!

In essence, we are creating a service that will keep customers highly engaged and informed without extra work for farmers. Also it's just plain fun to see a map of farmers in a particular market to understand foodshed. This is a powerful tool for markets and other farming groups!

Here is a rough screenshot of one of the test sites we are working on:

We've been working on this project for a while and plan to have a beta version out by early August. Let us know if you are a market or other group that wants a first shot at using the service!


  • 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 16 weeks ago
  • @AmyinOregon oh, neat. Glad you like them.. more coming soon!
    1 year 17 weeks ago


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