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!

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?

Posted by:

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

Posted by:

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 (

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


  • 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 46 weeks ago
  • @AmyinOregon oh, neat. Glad you like them.. more coming soon!
    1 year 47 weeks ago