I know there is a residual Luddite attitude in the small-scale agriculture community and, given the fact that so many farmers have gone into agriculture precisely to avoid the pitfalls of modern life, it is completely understandable. I am not sure how exactly to measure this effect, but in my experience looking at websites of individual farmers and the web resources for small-scale farmers, I see an industry that is not using Internet technology to it's greatest advantage.
That advantage is working together: connecting groups of people and fostering communication that leads to real world action. Here I am referring to the ways that farmers connect with each other and connect to their customers. We can do better with our websites and our connections as a group. For individual farmers I believe that web communication with customers is an imperative.
When it is January and snow covers your fields do you make sure that your customers are thinking of you and your farm? Does your customer know how much work it takes all year round to bring them that steak or watermelon? If not, how can you expect them to sign up for your CSA again, come to your farm market, or buy your meat? The supermarket is always just around the corner - how do you overcome your customer's inertia and have them shop with you (besides having a far-superior product, of course)?
Communicating online is cost-effective and time-efficient -- mailing lists, message boards, and websites. Over the next ten weeks I will release a course in farm web design to help you create and sustain a loyal customer base. Use the subscribe form in left-hand column of the site if you want to receive updates via email as they happen.
I encourage you to continue the conversation by leaving comments on this article and the ones that follow. I look forward to hearing from you!