Back in the day (like, five years ago) if you wanted to buy some local eggs or fresh strawberries you hopped in your car and drove around some promising country roads looking for farm stands. Some were pretty simple serve yourself affairs where you dropped cash in an honesty box after helping yourself to a bit of whatever happened to be in season. Some were pretty decent-sized stores where you could get a whole range of produce pretty well all year round. Finding local produce also meant reading the local farm guide (put out by organizations like the Vancouver Island Direct Farm Market Association – DFMA), word of mouth, or just plain luck.
Farmers’ markets have enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past couple of decades, and that was another way for those living in town to connect with local growers.
Fast forward to 2014 and more and more farmers connect with their customers via social media. Put a group of farmers around a table and it doesn’t take long for the conversation to switch from corn varieties, weather reports, planting times and harvest dates to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram. The times, they are a-changing!
The most recent addition to this arsenal of virtual tools is the almighty app. We are developing one for our CSA (subscription food box) customers and working with the DFMA to figure out how best to use an app to allow people to access all the information on the website and in the printed farm guide from a smartphone.
All of this handy portable technology has made it possible for a tiny farm like ours to find customers even though we are on a dead-end street and only open our farm stand for very limited hours each week during the growing season. We love going to farmers’ markets, but we often put the word out via various social media outlets to let our regular customers know where we will be and what we will have available.
Though at first it seemed to me that being chained to my phone even when I was out on the farm doing earthy things was just plain wrong, I have totally changed my tune. I love the way I can keep in touch, have access to so much information at the touch of a screen, and can play music, audiobooks, or podcasts while I wash eggs, weed beds, or muck paddocks.
I’m always on the lookout for cool farm- gardening- or food-related apps. I don’t know where I’d be without my allrecipes.com app! What are your favourites? Do you use an app to track how many pounds of rutabagas you harvest? How much milk each of your goats produce? Is there a good app out there for egg producers?
I’ll let you know as soon as our new app is ready to go – which had better be soon because now that we have moved into the new year, spring is heading this way like a runaway freight train! I’m thinking of starting some asparagus from seed in the greenhouse this year and need to get cracking! The perfect app would already have sent me a push notification or two to remind me! Then, of course, I’ll need another app to help me relax and deal with all the pressure from the endless stream of push notifications…