Author Archives: Fr Admin

Agri-Marketing News ~ FarmsReach Launches Online Platform for Non-GMO Seeds

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FarmsReach, the Berkeley-based social enterprise for farmers and ranchers, announced a pilot e-commerce platform for non-GMO, sustainable seeds at the Organic Seed Alliance Conference in Corvallis, Ore.

When it debuts later this year, FarmsReach’s Sustainable Seed Marketplace will be the first online source of its kind, an e-marketplace for non-GMO seeds from a mix of seed distributors, enhanced with anecdotal seed performance data from North American farmers. With the Marketplace, farmers can comparison-shop and make wish lists and annotations, viewable only by them, as they strategize for upcoming crops.

Continue Reading →

Agri-Marketing News ~ FarmsReach Launches Online Platform for Non-GMO Seeds

External link

FarmsReach, the Berkeley-based social enterprise for farmers and ranchers, announced a pilot e-commerce platform for non-GMO, sustainable seeds at the Organic Seed Alliance Conference in Corvallis, Ore.

When it debuts later this year, FarmsReach’s Sustainable Seed Marketplace will be the first online source of its kind, an e-marketplace for non-GMO seeds from a mix of seed distributors, enhanced with anecdotal seed performance data from North American farmers. With the Marketplace, farmers can comparison-shop and make wish lists and annotations, viewable only by them, as they strategize for upcoming crops.

Continue Reading →

Sustainable Food News ~ New Website Like Yelp for California Farmers

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The FarmsReach Source Directory, the first online business directory for California farmers, was launched today by the Berkeley-based social enterprise, FarmsReach. The website links FarmsReach member farmers with approved providers of everything from deer fences to irrigation systems, as well as farm-friendly service providers like lenders, contractors and nonprofit organizations.

“Think of it as a Yelp for farmers,” said FarmsReach founder Melanie Cheng, referring to the widely used “crowdsourcing” website for consumers. “Farmers get most of their referrals by word-of-mouth from fellow farmers. Our online directory makes it easier for everyone to learn who does good work or offers quality services, so they can make smarter, more informed choices.”

Inspiration for the Source Directory came from the successes of similar offerings by social enterprises and farmer co-ops in Asia and Europe, which provide farmers with vital connections to trusted suppliers. “Directories like this for the U.S. agriculture community are long overdue,” Cheng said.

Founded in 2007, FarmsReach has grown to more than 600 members – primarily farmers, but also farm-related nonprofits, Cooperative Extension advisors, and providers of materials and services to the agriculture community. “We launched in California, our home base, but many of the online and offline resources we provide can be equally useful in other regions. We hope to expand our directory services into other parts of the country soon,” said Cheng.

FarmsReach adds new members daily while also creating collaborative, working relationships with organizations that serve its farmer members. “We’re driven completely by our members and partner organizations. Together, we are building a true support system for the agriculture community,” Cheng said. Continue Reading →

Sustainable Food News ~ New Website Like Yelp for California Farmers

External link

Subscription required.

The FarmsReach Source Directory, the first online business directory for California farmers, was launched today by the Berkeley-based social enterprise, FarmsReach. The website links FarmsReach member farmers with approved providers of everything from deer fences to irrigation systems, as well as farm-friendly service providers like lenders, contractors and nonprofit organizations.

“Think of it as a Yelp for farmers,” said FarmsReach founder Melanie Cheng, referring to the widely used “crowdsourcing” website for consumers. “Farmers get most of their referrals by word-of-mouth from fellow farmers. Our online directory makes it easier for everyone to learn who does good work or offers quality services, so they can make smarter, more informed choices.”

Inspiration for the Source Directory came from the successes of similar offerings by social enterprises and farmer co-ops in Asia and Europe, which provide farmers with vital connections to trusted suppliers. “Directories like this for the U.S. agriculture community are long overdue,” Cheng said.

Founded in 2007, FarmsReach has grown to more than 600 members – primarily farmers, but also farm-related nonprofits, Cooperative Extension advisors, and providers of materials and services to the agriculture community. “We launched in California, our home base, but many of the online and offline resources we provide can be equally useful in other regions. We hope to expand our directory services into other parts of the country soon,” said Cheng.

FarmsReach adds new members daily while also creating collaborative, working relationships with organizations that serve its farmer members. “We’re driven completely by our members and partner organizations. Together, we are building a true support system for the agriculture community,” Cheng said. Continue Reading →

Welcome!

Welcome to our new blog!   Here is where we’ll be posting what we’ve been working on or thinking about behind the scenes.  Your input and comments are always welcome!

Welcome!

Welcome to our new blog!   Here is where we’ll be posting what we’ve been working on or thinking about behind the scenes.  Your input and comments are always welcome!

Seedstock ~ To Create Sustainable Food System, FarmsReach Focuses on Tools to Help Farmers Streamline Business Operations

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by Matt Wilhalme

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 3.07.09 PMWhen FarmsReach launched in 2007 it sought to facilitate connections between farmers and buyers by focusing its efforts on resolving food distribution issues with an online portal to help local farmers get their produce into the hands of consumers and address the increasing demand for organic regionally grown food.

But after the product scaled to 26 states, at a time when founder Melanie Cheng expected these marketplaces to boom and locally grown produce to become available in more and more places, transactions and volumes decreased. The main problem, according to Cheng, wasn’t the venue or point of sale, it was the “pre-marketplace.”

“Ultimately, there are a lot of different obstacles to creating a truly sustainable food system and a lot of them initiate from farms’ lack of business skills, business resources and general viability,” said Cheng. “We need to rehabilitate farming as an occupation.”

Cheng’s new focus with FarmsReach is on developing pre-market tools to help farmers more efficiently tackle everything from pricing, pack and food safety to planning and purchasing. To do so, FarmsReach plans to provide farmers everywhere with logistical software tools and also to establish a group buying program, which will function in much the same way as group purchasing organizations (GPO) do for hospitals by aggregating the purchase of supplies needed on an ongoing basis, to reduce farm production costs.

The company is also working to aggregate online business resources and programs for farmers in one location where they can find information about everything from business and crop planning to water management and more.

“If we can just rehabilitate the first mile in the supply chain, then other stakeholders that are working downstream can more easily take it from there,” Cheng said. “There is no one tool that is going to save the day. It is going to require a lot of people and multiple tools working together.”

FarmsReach’s pivot in strategy grew out of a realization that farmers need more robust tools to address the logistical issues of getting their products from the farm to the buyer, Cheng said.

“I think that many farms across the country would agree they could benefit from improvements in their business skills and operations. Many farmers will tell you they could use help streamlining their ops and marketing,” Cheng said. Continue Reading →

Seedstock ~ To Create Sustainable Food System, FarmsReach Focuses on Tools to Help Farmers Streamline Business Operations

External link

by Matt Wilhalme

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 3.07.09 PMWhen FarmsReach launched in 2007 it sought to facilitate connections between farmers and buyers by focusing its efforts on resolving food distribution issues with an online portal to help local farmers get their produce into the hands of consumers and address the increasing demand for organic regionally grown food.

But after the product scaled to 26 states, at a time when founder Melanie Cheng expected these marketplaces to boom and locally grown produce to become available in more and more places, transactions and volumes decreased. The main problem, according to Cheng, wasn’t the venue or point of sale, it was the “pre-marketplace.”

“Ultimately, there are a lot of different obstacles to creating a truly sustainable food system and a lot of them initiate from farms’ lack of business skills, business resources and general viability,” said Cheng. “We need to rehabilitate farming as an occupation.”

Cheng’s new focus with FarmsReach is on developing pre-market tools to help farmers more efficiently tackle everything from pricing, pack and food safety to planning and purchasing. To do so, FarmsReach plans to provide farmers everywhere with logistical software tools and also to establish a group buying program, which will function in much the same way as group purchasing organizations (GPO) do for hospitals by aggregating the purchase of supplies needed on an ongoing basis, to reduce farm production costs.

The company is also working to aggregate online business resources and programs for farmers in one location where they can find information about everything from business and crop planning to water management and more.

“If we can just rehabilitate the first mile in the supply chain, then other stakeholders that are working downstream can more easily take it from there,” Cheng said. “There is no one tool that is going to save the day. It is going to require a lot of people and multiple tools working together.”

FarmsReach’s pivot in strategy grew out of a realization that farmers need more robust tools to address the logistical issues of getting their products from the farm to the buyer, Cheng said.

“I think that many farms across the country would agree they could benefit from improvements in their business skills and operations. Many farmers will tell you they could use help streamlining their ops and marketing,” Cheng said. Continue Reading →

Food+Tech Connect ~ Melanie Cheng on Hacking the Food System: Think Systemically

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by Melanie Cheng

My focus has mainly been on solutions that try to pull some larger “levers of change” in the food system. The industry is in such a bad state right now, and it’s so incredibly complex with many, disparate players. Different types of technology can definitely help, but I think the million dollar question is where and how….and who can and should fund it.

Lately I’ve been talking with some funders and investment advisors who are researching the most promising tech investments. Short answer: it’s hard to know for sure, and, in my opinion, the state of the industry requires a lot more systemic thinking about solutions than just tech tools on their own.

Nonetheless below would be my quick picks. I’m sure there are other areas that could benefit greatly from technology, but these stand out to me as potentially having the largest impact:

  •  Precision agriculture: hardware and software to help farms increase their efficiencies. There is a lot of opportunity here. Precision ag is not only for agribusiness and not only for chemicals. There is a lot of research and innovation emerging to allow smaller farms to monitor, irrigate, and manage their land more efficiently and cheaply.
  •  Water metering, sensing and allocation tools: both hardware and software, and for both municipalities and farmers directly.
  •  Anything that helps farm operations “do more with less”: helping them increase their efficiencies with their notoriously limited resources. Many economic and distribution issues downstream in the supply chain are initially caused by the unviable operations on the farm.
  • [The elusive] Business-to-business regional supply chain transaction management and demand-supply alignment tools. Almost 99% of food sales are b-to-b. We need solutions to bring a lot more regional foods into these mainstream channels. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. (Check out the “Building Regional Produce Supply Chains” white paper we released with FarmsReach this summer.)
  • Aquaponics in certain situations, especially where there is not enough soil, water or other resources to grow food on the land.
  • Food stamp processing and innovation. Disclaimer: this isn’t my area of expertise at all(!), but I do know there is a need for 1) more markets and farmers markets to be able to process food stamps, and 2) it seems there must be an opportunity for innovation here.
  • Anything that could help disseminate business planning and financial management skills to the millions of family farms in the U.S. as well as to many of the thousands of non-profit organizations trying to help them.
  • Anything to entice more people to cook and actually help them do it.
  • Pipe dream: An online Cliff Notes version of the Farm Bill legislation, including searchable index, map of where the money flows now, and links to pertinent legislators and contact people associated with each bill.

Food+Tech Connect ~ Melanie Cheng on Hacking the Food System: Think Systemically

External link

by Melanie Cheng

My focus has mainly been on solutions that try to pull some larger “levers of change” in the food system. The industry is in such a bad state right now, and it’s so incredibly complex with many, disparate players. Different types of technology can definitely help, but I think the million dollar question is where and how….and who can and should fund it.

Lately I’ve been talking with some funders and investment advisors who are researching the most promising tech investments. Short answer: it’s hard to know for sure, and, in my opinion, the state of the industry requires a lot more systemic thinking about solutions than just tech tools on their own.

Nonetheless below would be my quick picks. I’m sure there are other areas that could benefit greatly from technology, but these stand out to me as potentially having the largest impact:

  •  Precision agriculture: hardware and software to help farms increase their efficiencies. There is a lot of opportunity here. Precision ag is not only for agribusiness and not only for chemicals. There is a lot of research and innovation emerging to allow smaller farms to monitor, irrigate, and manage their land more efficiently and cheaply.
  •  Water metering, sensing and allocation tools: both hardware and software, and for both municipalities and farmers directly.
  •  Anything that helps farm operations “do more with less”: helping them increase their efficiencies with their notoriously limited resources. Many economic and distribution issues downstream in the supply chain are initially caused by the unviable operations on the farm.
  • [The elusive] Business-to-business regional supply chain transaction management and demand-supply alignment tools. Almost 99% of food sales are b-to-b. We need solutions to bring a lot more regional foods into these mainstream channels. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. (Check out the “Building Regional Produce Supply Chains” white paper we released with FarmsReach this summer.)
  • Aquaponics in certain situations, especially where there is not enough soil, water or other resources to grow food on the land.
  • Food stamp processing and innovation. Disclaimer: this isn’t my area of expertise at all(!), but I do know there is a need for 1) more markets and farmers markets to be able to process food stamps, and 2) it seems there must be an opportunity for innovation here.
  • Anything that could help disseminate business planning and financial management skills to the millions of family farms in the U.S. as well as to many of the thousands of non-profit organizations trying to help them.
  • Anything to entice more people to cook and actually help them do it.
  • Pipe dream: An online Cliff Notes version of the Farm Bill legislation, including searchable index, map of where the money flows now, and links to pertinent legislators and contact people associated with each bill.