“Does Food Tech Help Farmers?,”was the central question of a Civil Eats article from last week. Reporter Dave Holt spoke to several small scale CSA and market farmers about their experience with the recent glut of internet startups– from Farmdingo to Good Eggs– asking mainly if e-commerce was good for business. Some farmers said yes, some said no. Most indicated that regardless of the relative benefits and costs of partnering with online distribution companies, doing so is becoming increasingly necessary. In the words of one farmer interviewed, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
But the farmers say they were disappointed, when, after being Farmigo’s loyal customer for several years, the company (backed by $26 million in funding) “came into the market we’ve developed over the past 25 years and started competing with us.”
We’d love to hear what you think. Let us know in the comments section if you use or have used an e-commerce platform for marketing and how it worked for you!
Yellow Seed, a nonprofit organization that facilitates connections between farmers and fair markets, recently partnered with Impact Hub Berkley, a social impact working hub out of the Bay Area, to host six curated working groups to focus on Collaborative Trade. The project was called From the Ground Up: Change Accelerator and aimed to “design healthy, global food supply chains where farmers are treated as equal partners and like-minded organizations work together to accelerate the shift towards sustainability.”
Small farmers, social justice groups, and some big names of the chocolate industry participated. (See the Yellow Seed blog for more detailed information!) To bring the sessions to a close, the groups are inviting anyone interested to take place in a webinar that will present the key findings of the working groups. The “welcome all curious minds, open hearts and everyone interested in learning about how we can revolutionize our global food supply chains together.”
Anyone interested has the choice of joining either of the two webinars:
Session A: Fri, Apr. 8, 2016 12:00PM – 1:30PM PDT
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/521009293
You can also dial in using your phone: United States +1 (312) 757-3121
Access Code: 521-009-293
Session B: Mon, Apr. 11, 2016 6:30pm – 8:00pm PDT
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/413804301
You can also dial in using your phone: United States +1 (224) 501-3212
Access Code: 413-804-301
I run a web service for small farms that provides websites and ecommerce to farms across the country (see link below). The basic way it works is that each farmer has their own login and password and they can develop and update their site themselves without needing any technical skills. They choose and customize a template and then can use tools such as mailing lists, recipe manager, ecommerce, photo gallery, etc, etc.
This is a nice marketing opportunity for farmers because it is inexpensive and really puts them in the driver’s seat.
Anyway, that’s an outline — I’m not trying to market the service to you guys! I am ready to expand the market for this product this winter and spring (when farmers have time to think about their marketing) and I think it would great if younger people would help some of their local farmers by getting them introduced to the product and helping them get set-up for the first time. Then teach them how to make updates so they can move on themselves. This is a powerful and innovative service, but farmers have a little trepidation to get started because it sounds overwhelming. They quickly get comfortable, but to have a young person close by that could help them would really make the process easier for them.
The idea being that you would charge a bit more than the normal fee (you could decide yourself what your time is worth) to get them started and I could give you a commission on the sale of the site. This isn’t something I have done before, but it is something I would like to explore. I am not sure what kind of readers are out on this list, so feel free to ignore if this doesn’t apply to you.
Anyway, if you have any innovative ideas of how we could work together to get the word out about the great products that farmers are producing, please send me an email and we’ll chat. I am open to any ideas that you have including the one that I set forth above.
Hope all is well wherever you are!
Lead Developer. Small Farm Central, LLC
Websites and ecommerce for direct-marketing farmers
— Further reading —