Blog

Aug 11, 2011

Small Farm Central Celebrates National Farmers Market Week

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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:

http://eastlibertymarket.farmingfaces.com/

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: http://pittsburghpublic.farmingfaces.com

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:
http://www.smallfarmcentral.com/farmingfaces

..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!

Jun 24, 2011

Member Assembler - Make a member type optional

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Member types allow you to model your CSA and pricing structure with the Member Assembler. For example, a member type might be "2011 Egg Share" with the following options:

  • 1 dozen per week ($75)
  • 2 dozen per week ($150)
  • No, egg share ($0)

That last option "No, egg share" has been our recommended way to create an optional member type. An optional member type is a share that you are selling to your members that is not a requirement to join the CSA -- it is an add-on. We have gotten some feedback that having to select 'No, egg share' was not a preferred solution for our farmers and there is a need for optional member types.

We just made some changes that will allow this and if you go to edit your member types, you will now find an 'optional' checkbox.

We hope this change streamlines your sign-up process!

Jun 24, 2011

New Help Doc Added - How Do I Request a Payment with Member Assembler?

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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. Check out our new help doc for an easy how-to!

Jun 22, 2011

Logo Design On A Dime

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We hear from a lot of farmers who want to create original logos for their businesses, but aren't sure where to find a designer, or don't have a lot of money to spend on the design process. One of our Small Farm Central customers, Cat Run Ranch Flower Farm, found an easy and affordable solution with a company called 99Designs (www.99designs.com).

To start, you launch a design 'contest' where you provide a simple outline of what you need to have designed (i.e., a logo, poster, t-shirt, etc), and then multiple designers submit their ideas. You provide feedback on the designs so you can get a concept that you like, and then select the winning design. Once you award the contest winner, you will receive your final design and the copyright to the original work.

One of the best parts of this collaborative design service is that you get to decide how much you want to spend on your project. Basically, the more money you offer, the more designers compete in your contest and the more concepts you'll see – but if you aren't satisfied with any of the results, 99Designs offers a money back guarantee.

So if you are looking for affordable, risk-free graphic design work, 99Designs might be a good option for you. Check out their website and let us know what you think.

Jun 21, 2011

Principle #2: Promote

Posted by: Small Farm Central

(This is the second of 5 principles of farm web marketing that I've developed over years of working with farmers. Read more about the principles here.)

You have a farm website! Great! Now what?

No existing or potential customers will ever find your site unless you tell them about it. Compelling content and beautiful design will only get you so far: you need visitors.

This is an on-going process, but some basic ideas include:

  • Put a link to your website in the footer of all farm emails. That means every email you send contains a link to your website and is a constant source of promotion. List your farm in online farm directories like Local Harvest, Eat Wild, or the many local directories that state agricultural associations have set up.
  • Mailing list
  • Business Cards
  • Website flyer at farmers markets

Try to get feedback on how new customers found you: this will give you encouragement that you are doing the right kinds of promotion or it will give you ideas of new avenues to explore.

Be creative and remember to be yourself while you do it!

We recommend carving a morning or afternoon out of your busy schedule as dedicated marketing time. Maybe it is Tuesday morning: write & send the newsletter, post to the blog, update the website, or create new relationships with people that may be able to connect folks to the farm. If time is not set aside, it will get consumed with the day-to-day work of farming. There will always be a semi-crisis on the farm and if those every day crises are allowed to distract from marketing, the long term investment of promoting the farm will never happen!

This is one of truths of web marketing and probably any kind of marketing: promotion is not a mad dash to the finish line. It is a long-term habit that you cultivate -- the benefits will accrue over time and, if you do it effectively and consistently, one day everyone will know about your farm!

Read all 5 principles of farm web marketing

Jun 17, 2011

New 'Check-off Reporting' for Ecommerce

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Based on the needs of one our customers, we have added a new reporting option to our ecommerce tool. We call it a 'check-off report' because it is a concise report to print out and have at your stand for CSA extra product orders or farmers market pre-orders.

This type of report will be most beneficial in situations where there are a fairly limited amount of items being sold. If many, many items are being sold each week, the number of columns could get a bit unwieldy.

The check-off report will look a bit like this:

It's high time for markets and CSAs, so if you would like to step up your ordering and reduce administrative time: consider our ecommerce tools for online ordering. We'll make it easy, just get in touch!

Jun 15, 2011

Baskets are bursting..

Posted by: Small Farm Central

This photo from Ploughshare Farm in Alexandria, MN says it all:


I bet you are starting to fill your baskets just like Ploughshare Farm!

We know it's "go time" from all the calls we've been getting over the last few weeks from farmers making last preparations for their first markets and csa deliveries. (Of course we know that many of you are selling year round and are on a completely different schedule!) Good luck this season! I know how hard it is from ground level and the feeling of racing against the clock to get everything done even in these long Summer days.

We're here to support your work and make your day a little easier. So just let us know if we can help with your site. We are just a phone call or email away. Happy growing!

Jun 6, 2011

Small Farm Central Gets Growers Their Own Corner of the Web

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The Small Farm Central staff is featured in the current issue of Edible Allegheny, a regional publication that celebrates the diverse and dynamic agricultural community of western Pennsylvania.

Victoria Bradley and Aleisha Jones did a good job of capturing the essence of our company ethos, and we had such a great time lounging in the grass on a beautiful spring morning for our photo shoot with Adam Milliron. You can read the full article here:

http://www.ediblecommunities.com/allegheny/online-magazine/june/july-201...

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