The fall harvest is a time when food seems bountiful and we take the time to reflect and give thanks for what we have. Two “food days” in October remind us of the people who work hard to provide this bounty and they encourage an awareness of the issues that threaten their life’s work.
Coming up on October 16th is World Food Day, an annual event organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to bring awareness to world hunger issues. Since 2014 is also the International Year of Family Farming, this year’s World Food Day theme is: "Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth". The theme has a broad scope and, according to their website, addresses:
“the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.”
Check out the World Food Day website for videos, infographics and more information about how to get involved.
Later in the month, on Octber 24th, is Food Day, a national event hosted by a coalition of over 100 partner organizations. Food Day “envisions food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.” This year they are bringing a special focus to food justice issues like access & equality, farm & food service workers, hunger & obesity and even junk food marketing.
Check out the the Food Day website to find activities in your area, and to read more about the issues they are tackling. Their resources is filled with great information for sharing including infographics like this one about food justice:
We are adding a new position to the Small Farm Central team, Farmer Success Specialist. This position entails supporting our customers as well as developing and implementing a plan to reach out to existing customers to ensure they are having success with the software.
This is a Pittsburgh-based position at our East Liberty offices.
We have been working with an illustrator to develop some stock images of CSA boxes that look like this:
This is conjunction with a feature for Member Assembler which will allow associating an image with each member type to give members a better visual feel for what each box looks like as they are making their selections. You will be able to upload your own image or use one of these illustrations.
Do you think these illustrations will be useful?
The crew at Small Farm Central is especially excited for the winner of the Best EBT/Incentive Program Poster, Pittsburgh's own Just Harvest! Their Fresh Access program has been enabling Pittsburgh CitiParks Farmers Markets customers the ability to purchase tokens with their debit cards, credit cards, and SNAP benefit cards which in turn can be used to buy goods from the market vendors. Not only has it made shopping at farmers markets more convenient, but it's made the market more accessible for everyone!
Here are some other updates and articles that were written in celebration of National Farmers Market Week:
Farmers' Market Values - New York Times Online: The Opinion Pages
Farmers Markets & Urban Agriculture - Sharing the Bounty - HuffPost Food: The Blog
FMC Celebrates National Farmers Market Week in DC - The Farmers Market Coalition website
And here's another smart infographic about farmers markets from The Farmers Market Coalition to share on your websites. Be sure to check out their website for more great resources to promote your market.
Keep spreading the word about shopping at local markets and be sure to keep on celebrating through the weekend!
The American Farmland Trust is running it's "I Love My Farmers Market" campaign again this summer in order to continue to raise awareness about supporting local farms. The campaign asks market-goers to pledge their commitment to their local market by recording what they anticipate spending that week.
Check out their infographic about the increase in Farmers Markets across the country and visit their website to learn how you can get involved in the campaign.
Check out these beautiful stamps that will be offered by the United States Postal Service in August:
The stamps were designed by artist director Greg Breeding and illustrator Robin Moline to honor "America's agricultural bounty" and to commemorate the long tradition of farmer's markets across the country. The following description of markets accompanied the amouncement of the stamps at the end of May:
"Stalls brimming with fresh produce, shoppers engaged in conversation with vendors, neighbors catching up on news—farmers markets are so much more than just places to buy fruits and vegetables. They are spaces that foster community, support small farms, and boost local economies, and they offer consumers the opportunity to interact directly with the people who produce their food."
These stamps make the gang here at Small Farm Central want to stop sending emails and start sending more letters! We think they would be great to use in mailing campaign to your customers. For farmers using the FarmFan Rewards Program they could even be used as one of the incentives for your fans. For example: earn 175 points and trade them in for a book of 20 farmers market stamps!
1. Live Chat Support. When one of our support staff is available, you will see a chat option on the lower right of your control panel so you can ask for help with whatever you are working on at that moment.
2. Custom Form Answers on Member Assembler Pickup Lists. You can optionally include a column for any of the answers your members supplied during their signup process. This would be most useful if people marked themselves vegan, for instance, or noted any allergies.
3. Checkout Coupon Counts. With Member Assembler checkout coupons, there is a count of how many invoices are using each coupon along with a list of the invoices for you to track use or abuse of a code.
4. Archived User Groups. When you archive user groups now, they will move to their own list rather than staying on one gigantic list. This way you can more easily access whatever groups are currently relevant.
5. Payment Request Emails. You can save the text of a new payment request email to use as a default in future payment requests.
6. Deleted Members. If you've accidentally deleted a Membership you can type "Deleted" in your Search box on the upper-right of your control panel to find a list of Deleted Members. You also have access to all of the Member Notes for that member should you need to recreate their details.
7. E-Commerce Calculated Shipping. You can add on an additional Handling Fee to cover your costs when using the UPS/FedEx/USPS calculator for E-Commerce shipping rates.
We Love Our Farmers! And we love seeing photos of what's goin on "down on the farm". With April feeling more like March this year, we're glad that May is finally bringing us the weather we've been waiting for. Everything is blooming, hatching, and arriving. Here is a photo of a new lamb from The Farm Institute in Massachusetts.
"This is a Katahdin ewe and her lamb. Katahdins are heritage breed hair sheep that shed instead of needing to be sheared. The farm institute raises 100% grassfed lamb on their nonprofit teaching farm on Martha's Vineyard." - Julie Olson Scott, The Farm Institute
While it's still a little rainy and gray in some place on this first day of May, the weather's not stopping farmer's at markets across the country from beginning to open their stalls for the season. Eager customers have begun to pull their tote bags out of closets and dust off their favorite shopping baskets in anticipation of Spring's bounty. This year, however, they'll be sure to bring a new tool to market in their purses and pockets, their mobile phone. In their bags and baskets they may gather groceries, but their cell phone will help them collect something new from their favorite farmer: rewards points.
FarmFan gives farmers and vendors the tools to drive more traffic to their market with reminder text messages, a customer rewards program, and valuable sales data. You will more about who your customers are, what they like, and reward them for shopping with you! Learn more on the FarmFan website and by watching this short video:
FarmFan has been in a beta release period since January with 20 farms across the country, and we've been learning and tweaking to get FarmFan ready for Spring. As we tested the software at winter markets, the reception from farmers and customers was overwhelmingly positive! Check out some of the testimonials from fellow farmers here.
Back on March 6th and 7th, Small Farm Central along with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture held our second annual CSA Expert Exchange online conference. This year's event was held over two days. We had about 130 people register for the event overall. About 50 people attended the event live during the Thursday night sessions and about 90 attended live during Friday's daytime sessions. The sessions were recorded and are available for all registrants to watch and re-watch at their leisure.
The Thursday night sessions were focused on new farmers and those new to Community-Supported Agriculture. We had two sessions – one featuring Dave Liker from Gorman Produce Farm who talked about the first five years of his farm and CSA in Columbia, MD. Dave discussed the challenges of taking his farm from just a couple dozen CSA members their first year to over 400 over the next four years. Then Shannon Jones from Broadfork Farm in River Hebert, Nova Scotia presented on their experience finding proper farming land to purchase. Her story highlighted many of the challenges faced by farmers looking to find land including water and soil issues and the indifference of banks and other lending institutions in helping out young farmers.
Friday's sessions began with Karla Pankow of Bossy Acres farm in Northfield, MN, talking about how best to use marketing and social media to get the word out about your CSA and building connections with your members. Chris Brockel from CSA FairShare Coalition in Madison, WI talked about what it means to be a CSA coalition and the projects that their group has worked on to improve CSA's for both members and farmers in Wisconsin. Then there was a session on the legal issues faced by CSA farmers presented by Rachel Armstrong from Farm Commons. Pam Dawling, who writes for Growing For Market, talked about crop planning with an eye on ensuring the necessary timing of product and growing the right mix of product to meet your customers' needs while still making a profit. The day's activities were capped off with Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Farms in Middle Granville, NY, talking about the growing trend towards customizable CSA's and some of the different models that are currently being used.
We've learned quite a bit over the two years of doing this conference. We feel strongly that this is a great way of using technology to bring a variety of people together to learn about how to continually improve the CSA model. The online conference model allows farmers across the US, Canada and beyond to get together without the time and financial costs associated with going to an in-person conference. Over the course of the coming months we'll be analyzing how we can make improvements to the conference. We'll be looking for our next batch of “experts” to work with for 2015 and we'll be looking for new ways to make the conference engaging and educational for the CSA community.
We want to again thank all off the presenters for sharing their knowledge and PASA for their help in making the conference happen. This year we also worked with some great farming organizations that have helped get the word out about the conference including AgSquared, Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), FairShare CSA Coalition, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the Land Stewardship Project, and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming. Thanks to them for their support.
Here's some feedback from our post-conference survey:
“How useful was the CSA Expert Exchange? What was your overall impression of the event?”
On a scale of 1 (not useful) to 5 (very useful), 35.7% of respondents said it was very useful, with an overall rating of 4.0.
“Based on the price you paid for the conference, do you feel this was a good value?”
On a scale of 1 (not a good value) to 5 (very good value), 26.9% of respondents said it was a very good value, with an overall rating of 3.5.
“Do you feel the material was appropriate for your experience levels?”
77% of respondents said the material was “just right” with the remaining 23% saying the material was “too basic”.
“Did you find the format of the online conference worked well? Did you have any problems?”
While there were a number of concerns and suggestions about how to improve the online format, 76.% of respondents said that the “Format worked out well.”
“Would you register for another CSA Expert Exchange?”
70.4% of respondents said they would attend another CSA Expert Exchange.
The archived video version of the event is still available if you are interested in still checking out the conference. To purchase the archived version, go here.
If you didn't attend this particular event but have feedback on what you'd like to see from future online seminars and conferences, please get in touch at email@example.com.