Nov 25, 2009

Dealing with Interruptions at the Farm

Posted by: Small Farm Central

On the SPIN farming email group there was an interesting exchange between farmers about how to deal with problematic (well-meaning or not) visitors. This is likely more of a problem in urban areas where density of population and interest in small-scale farming bring out all kinds of people. Even if you are not an urban farm, situations may occur like this where a single customer occupies busy selling times at a farmers market.

Paige in Austin, Texas has a really good approach of creating a "Standard Operating Procedure" that helps separate the farmer from the specific situation:

My method is to note when we encounter a new "problematic situation" and then devise a "standard operating procedure." This allows me to separate myself personally from the difficult message I'm delivering to the person, and allows me to be really nice to them rather than act annoyed or in a hurry.

It depends on how much of a "business" your operation is. We're not only working to farm and make money for our household, but we're devising methods to help train farmers who want to run an extension of our yard based neighborhood farms, so we have to create procedures and best practices to teach others. This includes dealing with interruptions and other things that create problems.

Those will be different for everyone depending on the operation you've set up. But generally speaking:
  1. identify your problem,
  2. think about how you'd prefer the situation go,
  3. consider any legal ramifications if applicable, and
  4. create a standard procedure for how you will handle the situation.

Then you can "blame the procedure" rather than anyone taking it personally.

"I'd really love to chat with you right now, and I'm so glad you've stopped by, but we can only give tours on Saturday mornings so the farmers can focus on the harvest during the week. Please do come back, and feel free to visit the website to fill out our contact form if you'd like to get weekly news about special events."


Nov 16, 2009

Using Craigslist for Farm Marketing

Posted by: Small Farm Central

While I was at the Southeast Strawberry Expo in Durham, NC I came across farmers marketing their products via Craigslist. This is an interesting way to market farm products because I normally think of Craigslist as a place to sell a used bike or advertise an apartment rental.

If you are not familiar with Craigslist, it is a simple, free classifieds board focused on a single city or area. It is also one of the largest and most heavily used sites on the web. There are Craigslist pages for most metropolitan areas across the United States and many classified categories from automobiles to lost-and-found notices.

I found this posting on the Raleigh, NC Craigslist site listing "U-pick" turnips and greens:

Though posting your farm products on Craigslist will only work if you serve a metropolitan area, I think it could be a successful strategy especially for time sensitive postings like "U-Pick" strawberries, coupons, or anything that customers can take action on quickly. If you end up using Craigslist to advertise your products, please let us know how it goes.

Nov 11, 2009

Solving the Photo Upload Quandary

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We have finally been able to address the seemingly intractable problem of photo uploads here at Small Farm Central. The photo upload process for our farmers is not currently as easy as it should be in between resizing the photos for upload (if they were too large from your camera), selecting each photo separately, and then uploading to the gallery.

Check out our new multiple photo upload tool

As we are still testing this new uploader, it is not the default yet. If you'd like to try it out, login to your control panel and navigate to:
Create Content / Gallery / Upload photo / and click on the link in the message box for the multiple photo uploader.

Steps to Using the Multiple Photo Uploader

  1. Click "add" to bring up to navigate your computer for your photos.
  2. Once you find the directory that has your photos, to select multiple photos, choose the first photo in the series, hold down the "SHIFT" key and click the last photo in the series.
    • There is no need to resize your photos before selecting them in this step -- the multiple photo upload tool will do the work for you!
  3. Now that your photos are selected, you will see a preview of each photo that looks a bit like this:
  4. When you are ready to upload, click "Prepare for Upload" in the top right area of the photo upload tool. This may take several minutes depending on the number of photos you have selected and other factors. The progress bar will give you an idea of how long the process will take.
  5. When the "prepare" process is complete, simply click "Upload" and your photos will be quickly transferred into your Small Farm Central site.


Nov 2, 2009

Member Assembler Keeps on Improving!

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We are busy tweaking and testing our updates to the Member Assembler, our CSA Member Management platform. We have a new logo, new website look, better sign-up process, new pricing, more features, and more. I'm excited to show it off to everyone.

Look for the new Member Assembler ad in your next copy of Growing for Market. Have you seen our ads in Growing for Market over the past year? They are pretty fun -- we'd love to hear some feedback that you have seen the ads!

Hopefully we'll have the updates out by the end of the week. That's the great thing about a service like Small Farm Central -- we get to continually work for you based on your feedback and keep our services ever improving.

I hope you are having a good Fall and maybe taking a break from a long season. You will be hearing more about the Member Assembler in the coming week!

Oct 13, 2009

September Photos of the Month

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Notable harvest photos posted by our farmers in September

Salem Road Farms has a gorgeous harvest of red hot peppers. Wagner Farms farmstand in Corrales, New Mexico is overflowing with New Mexico green chiles.
Bloomfield Farm in Charlotte, Vermont is raising a photogenic pig!

The Grass Whisperer spots a rainbow over grassfed cattle near Deansboro, New York.

Oct 6, 2009

Weekend Recipe: The Versatile Mashed Sweet Potato

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Among my favorites of the orange foods is the sweet potato. Don’t let the rich, sweet flavor fool you, this variety has a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes and packs a nutritional punch of beta carotene and vitamin c. Just like regular potatoes, sweet potatoes can be served mashed alongside a favorite roasted meat. Here are a couple versatile ways you can prepare mashed sweet potatoes to complement your meal.

Orange-Basil Sweet Potatoes
About 2.5 pounds sweet potatoes (2 large)
1/2 cup orange juice (unsweetened, no pulp)
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil or 1-1/2 tsp. dried basil
kosher salt to taste

Peel sweet potatoes and cut to a large dice (about 1-inch cubes).
Steam for about 20-30 minutes until fork tender.
Mix in other ingredients.

If you want more orange flavor, you can add 1/2 tsp. of orange flavor (natural) or orange zest to bump up the citrus.

Honey-Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed in 2-inch cubes
1 tbs. honey
1 tbs. brown sugar
sea salt
1 tbs. olive oil
1⁄4 cup half and half
2 tbs. butter
1 canned chipotle pepper with 1 tbs. of the adobo sauce it comes in, chopped
(note that is one pepper from the can, not one can! Very hot.)

Heat oven to 400° F.

Toss the potatoes with the oil, salt, honey and brown sugar. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes until fork tender. Mash the potatoes with the half and half and the butter. Add the chopped chipotle and 1 tbs. sauce. The texture will be coarser than mashed potatoes because of the roasting, but the flavor is worth it.

Find seasonal recipes for all of your CSA produce at The Expatriate’s Kitchen,

Oct 1, 2009

Young Farmers in the News, on the web, and on the silver screen

Posted by: Small Farm Central

p> America's farmers are getting older by the numbers and the next generation needs to stand up so our country can eat into the future. This demographic challenge has received a lot of attention within the agriculture community for many years and the issue is now entering the consciousness of the wider media.


40 Farmers Under 40

The Mother Nature Network released an interesting feature last month featuring the work of "40 farmers under 40". Some of the top entries include a pop signer turned avocado farmer, farmer/writer Zoë Bradbury, and filmmaker Ian Cheney of King Corn renown.

Maybe you will find someone you know in the list? We know farmer #14, Lyndon Hartz of Hartz Organics because he uses our website services.

Not surprisingly, this list features farmers in the sustainable farming movement rather than the conventional farming track.

The Greenhorns Movie

A group of young farmers, they call themselves the Greenhorns, is in the process of finishing a feature-length documentary on the young farmer movement. The filmmaker has energetically travelled around the country filming young farmers at work while in the process of starting her own farm in the New York City area.

Here is the trailer for the movie:

More Young Farmers on the Web

There's a lot more about young farmers all over the world wide web. Here are some selected articles:


Having young people coming into farming is not a choice, it is necessary demographic change as our farmers age. I am heartened that young farmers are so passionate about what they do and so prolific is recording their journey!

Sep 23, 2009

Photogenic Premium Template Released

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We previewed the "Photogenic" template last week and now it ready for the prime time. Get started today to take advantage of this new template. One special part of our "premium templates" is that they are limited in quantity, so they will go fast!

View the test site at:

Customizable Options

  • Each photo on both the home page and the internal pages are editable by the farmer through a new "draggable" interface we have created for this template. It's pretty slick!
  • Add your own logo in the upper left hand corner of the site (to replace the default image of the windmill and the barn).
  • Choose one of four color palettes. You may view the template with the various color palettes by clicking these links (1, 2, 3, 4).
  • As always the title and all other content on the page is updated by the farmer through our easy-to-use control panel.


We hope you like it as much as we do!

Sep 21, 2009

A Full Domain Name Matters and Other Domain Driven Thoughts

Posted by: Small Farm Central

A domain name is defined as:

" identification label that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control in the Internet, based on the Domain Name System (DNS)."

That doesn't help much, does it? Basically, a domain name is something like that identifies your website on the internet. This is obviously an important decision as you start a farm website and one you have probably thought about.

If you don't have a domain name yet, search for your preferred address at

We've covered domain names in the past, but here are some basic thoughts to keep in mind as you make that decision:

  1. Shorter is better. For example, if your farm name is Beautiful Meadows Artisan Cheeses and Dairy, is better than
  2. If available, always use the "dot-com" address. I have heard .com addresses referred to as downtown real estate while other address endings like .info, .us, .name, etc are in the suburbs -- you want a downtown store front so your website is easy to find. (Of course, you may want to be .org if your farm is a non-profit.)
  3. Buy your domain name today even if you do not plan to start your website in the near future. It costs about $10/year and we can still host your site in the future no matter where you register it. is a popular domain registrar (a registrar is a company that registers domain names).
  4. Consider registering your domain name for longer periods such as 5 or 10 years, because you do not want to be in a situation where your domain name accidentally expires. This is what one of our farmers is dealing with right now and it can be a real pain to get it back online while your email and website are in limbo. It's low cost and your farm is going to be around in 5 years right?
  5. Think twice about using a "sub-domain" address like or We always encourage farmers to use a full domain name like because you will have complete flexibility for your website into the future. If you have a address, you are limited to using blogspot's service. If you want to upgrade or move on, your signs, business cards, customer bookmarks, and etc will need to be reprinted or changed.
  6. All Small Farm Central sites are hosted at a full domain name. If you purchase a subscription, we'll take care of your domain name for you so you don't have to worry about it! If you already have a domain name when you start your website with us, we'll explain exactly how to re-point the domain name at our servers. It's not hard.

Is your preferred domain already registered? We'll cover that soon in the blog. In the meantime, if your domain name is registered by someone else, let us know via email and we'll help you pick an alternate domain name.

Sep 14, 2009

A 'Photographic' Premium Template

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We'll have a new premium template out for your farm website in the next few weeks. Here are the mock-ups. This template gives you a chance to show off all of your great farm photography!

Homepage of new premium template

Internal page of new premium template


  • 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
    2 years 18 weeks ago
  • @AmyinOregon oh, neat. Glad you like them.. more coming soon!
    2 years 19 weeks ago