Author Archives: Melanie Cheng

Introducing our Water & Irrigation Toolkit

water canalsIn California, where drought has been a regular occurrence since the 1860’s, most residents are concerned about the water situation. And, because farmers and ranchers are wholly dependent on fresh, clean water, issues about water scarcity, accessibility, cost, and quality are often at the forefront of their minds.

Interestingly, many farmers are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to soil fertility management, tracking precise nutrient ratios to yield the best harvests; however, far fewer are such granular experts when it comes to managing soil moisture.

With the volatile climate and ongoing drought, it’s imperative and simply smart business to ensure farm operations are managing their water use as efficiently as possible. Using appropriate equipment and technology, monitoring and managing soil to retain moisture, and selecting plants that thrive in our unique climate are a few of the ways this can be accomplished.

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Appreciating Open Space & Community — Rodeo-Style

Last week I went to the 95th Annual Livermore Rodeo.  Even though I grew up in what used to be horseback-riding country on the Peninsula (pre-Silicon Valley era), I had never been to a rodeo before.

FarmsReach, Livermore, rodeoIMG_6988Sitting in the jam-packed bleachers in the sunshine, surrounded by a surprising mix of rodeo regulars, city hipsters, British visitors, and suburbanites, I was struck by how this age-old American institution was successfully bringing people together, reconnecting folks to the country, and entertaining all with some impressive skills.

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Optimizing the Seed Supply Chain ~ According to Stanford Engineers

This past Wednesday, Masters students in the School of Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University presented their final report with solutions to optimize the sustainable seed supply chain.

FarmsReach, MS&E 262 Project, Stanfordphoto

Stanford Graduate Students Present Ideas to
Optimize Seed Supply Chain

A mere three months ago, they accepted FarmsReach’s submission to an RFP from their professor.  His request: Seeking companies with “real world supply chain challenges” for which students will “perform a systematic assessment of an area within the supply chain and identify ways to improve performance”.  Excellent!

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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:

    Molly Bloom, CA FarmLink
    Evan Wiig, True Grass Farms & North Coast Young Farmers Guild
    Marisa Alcorta, NCAT/ATTRA
    Emma Torbert, Cloverleaf Farm
    Darryl Wong, CASFS
    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.

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