Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Community Picks: CropMobster, AgLocal, and PastureScout

These folks are all about supporting farmers, and they’re taking new approaches to solve some real issues for the farming and ranching community.  We’ve met with all of them the past few months, and we want to share the great work they’re doing!

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 3.40.54 PMCropMobster transforms what might be considered food waste, into value. Tons of produce not fit for the produce shelves in a supermarket are often left in the fields to rot. CropMobster is an online platform giving farmers the opportunity to offer this surplus and ‘seconds’ to those in their community who need it. We’re particularly moved by how this organization enables communities to take an active role in supporting their local food system. Watch the video where founder Nick Papadopolous explains how CropMobster works and see how you could use their services selling or donating product, or accessing some affordable bounty.

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FarmsReach in a Nutshell; Q&A with Melanie Cheng

At FarmsReach, we encourage our growing community to ask questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb question, and more often than not, someone else is seeking the same answer. Our founder, Melanie Cheng, is peppered with questions daily, and here are a few of her answers about FarmsReach and our work to develop a strong network of farmers.

farm, field, GrowKitchen, tractorIMG_0303What does FarmsReach do?

FarmsReach is an evolving online platform co-created with our member farmers and partner organizations. There’s a big opportunity to improve connections and information-sharing among the agriculture community. There’s also a critical need to develop systems to help new farmers ramp up their businesses quickly, experienced farmers optimize their operations, and just about all farms improve their bottom line.

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Member Groups Enhance Community Conversations

We’re excited to announce the launch of Member Groups!  Phase 1 is now live.  Check it out!

The North Coast Convergence community, a new community of farmers, organizations and advocates from around Mendocino, is taking this latest FarmsReach feature for a spin, and we invite any other groups of FarmsReach members, partners and organizations to create a Member Group as well.

Here’s what Member Groups are all about:

Phase 1 – live now:

  • Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 4.48.13 PMSet up a group based on your interests, region, crops, organization affiliation…anything you like. If you’re interested in creating a new Member Group, contact us!
  • Keep your Member Group open (where anyone can instantly join), or have a gatekeeper to approve members first.
  • Add A Conversation, and post any combination of text, images, links, or files.
  • Tag Conversations by Topic, so they are easily archived and referenced later on.
  • Allow any FarmsReach member to view your Member Group Conversations, while only members of your group can post Conversations.
    — To read and post to general FarmsReach conversations, go to Community > Conversations.
    — To read and post to ONLY your Member Group’s conversations, go to:
    Community > Conversations > Member Groups - <name of your group>.

Phase 2 – rolling out over the next few months:

  • Find Groups near you, or based on your interest, region, experience, etc.
  • Filter Group postings by topic, type, or the posting member’s region or other attributes.
  • Reference easy-to-use Group Toolkits, which will automatically capture images, files and links that are posted to the Group Conversations.  Group moderators can edit and manage Group Toolkits contents at any time.
  • Track Group Events.  Group moderators can choose to add their Group Events to the general FarmsReach Events calendar as well.

There’s a lot more coming, so stay tuned!

Written by Shanti Christensen & Melanie Cheng.

North Coast Farmers Guild’s Eats & Ideas

GrowKitchen, kitchenIMG_1085

There’s probably no better way to learn more about your food than to meet the farmers who grow it and share a meal with them. The North Coast Young Farmer’s Guild met for their fourth monthly gathering at GrowKitchen in Sebastopol. The guild isn’t confined to just farmers. They welcome “ranchers, milkmaids, food artisans, chefs, butchers and anyone else with a vested interest in the next generation” of good and healthy eats.

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Moving Forward With New Designs!

testingRecently, our talented interaction designer Renee Anderson conducted ten user testing sessions to gather feedback on three new sections of the FarmsReach site: Groups, an expanded Services Directory, and a Marketplace (which will start with seed).

Based on our member feedback, two seed workshops back in February, and countless internal design sessions, we created “paper prototypes” of this new functionality intended to make the FarmsReach platform more useful to the community.

Each “testing” session was an hour long where Renee walked one person through the designs to gather feedback and new ideas.  Initially, we planned to cover all three new sections with each testing participant, but thanks to our incredibly thoughtful and insightful testing participants, we ended up focusing on just one section each.  And, what wonderful feedback and ideas we gathered!

Here’s who focused on what:

  • GROUPS
    Molly Bloom, CA FarmLink
    Evan Wiig, True Grass Farms & North Coast Young Farmers Guild
    .
  • SERVICES DIRECTORY
    Marisa Alcorta, NCAT/ATTRA
    Emma Torbert, Cloverleaf Farm
    Darryl Wong, CASFS
    .
  • MARKETPLACE – SEED
    Brian Boyce, Riverdog Farm
    Kyle Farmer, Green String Farm
    Paula Gaska, Mendocino Organics
    Steve Peters, Seed Revolution Now
    Paul Underhill, Terra Firma Farm

We are especially excited for the seed sourcing tool, as we have been researching and working on seed issues since the end of 2011 — with the generous guidance and support from Jared Zystro of Organic Seed Alliance, John Bauer of Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Tom Brinan of Snow Seed Co., Steve Peters (above), and many other knowledgable seed advocates, suppliers and buyers.  Renee has incorporated everyone’s input, and we’ve now started building!  Groups and the Services Directory will be released first, and then the Seed Marketplace will be next.

Written by Melanie Cheng.

FarmsReach Newsletter – May 6, 2013

We sent our second member newsletter earlier this week!  Topics in this edition:Newsletter

If you missed our first member newsletter after our January beta-launch, you can still view it here.

To receive member newsletters, all you have to do is Join!  It’s free and takes 1 minute.

Note: If you’re not in the agriculture industry, please sign up for our general newsletter.