CSA Software Panel

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CSA Software Panel

  1. 1. 2013 ACORN Conference Delta Beauséjour, Moncton NB Workshop Title: Panel: CSA Software Speakers & their titles: Miriam Mark (Farmigo), Mike Caplan (Harvest Hand), and Simon Huntley (Small Farm Central) Executive Summary: This session consists of three presenters from businesses that offer software designed to assist CSA farmers with business management. Each presenter was given time to describe their product and discuss its purpose, merits and special features. Detailed Notes Farmigo (Miriam Mark, skyped in) Farmigo has been in business four and a half years. The goal of the business is to change the food system by helping CSA farmers with data management and distribution so that they can be free to spend more time in the field growing food. The Farmigo software platform was developed with input from farmers and CSA members. Miriam Mark (presenter) has worked at Farmigo for two and a half years. Her position at Farmigo is part of a personal journey toward a greater understanding of local food systems, food and community. Farmigo was founded by Benzi Ronan, who came to CSAs and local food due to infertility issues that he and his partner were experiencing. His background is in software and technology, so he brought these skills together with his passion for healthy, local food. Two years ago Farmigo hit a landmark of having 2 million CSA shares in 2 million homes.Farmigois always evolving and making changes to broaden the applicability of its software to a diversity of CSAs. Farmigo has more famers than any other CSA management software, but it is not just for farmers, but also for CSA members. Farmigo plays a key role in fostering member retention for its client CSAs. Farmigo has an excellent support team that sets this company apart from other CSA management software companies. The company provides clients with setup assistance and ongoing support from knowledgeable staff. Technologically, Farmigo is very flexible and can be customized to fit the needs of individual CSAs.Farmigo also features a specially designed mobile platform for on-the-road management. Services that Farmigo software provides include: separate member and farmer sections, automated emails for communication with members, newsletter
  2. 2. 2013 ACORN Conference Delta Beauséjour, Moncton NB templates, easy-to-check member balances, and easy online share payment opportunities. Farmigo also features a “web store” where farmers can sell a bumper crop, value added products, or single item additions to CSA shares. Farmigo charges its client once a season and takes 2% of CSA sales- a fee clients consider worthwhile for the amount of time the software saves them. Harvest Hand (Mike Caplan) Harvest Hand has a huge CSA system and has worked with such notable organizations as Equiterre and Herstreet (a food relief program that uses work exchanges to get people into the CSA system). In 2009 when Harvest Hand began, it was working to build something that didn’t already exist. Harvest Hand worked with Nova Scotia’s Taproot Farm to identify tools and features that could address productivity and business scale issues. Harvest Hand sought to address CSA commerce needs that normal e-commerce platforms did not meet, while offering a full suite of marketing tools, and member services, all in one virtual environment. It is important for CSAs to go online because it enlarges their market reach. Consumers are becoming accustomed to e-commerce, and indeed, expect it. Canadians are going to double online purchasing between 2010 and 2015. CSAs can cash-in on this massive growth. Marketing does not get more direct than offering people the convenience of purchasing food from within the comfort of their own homes. Farmers can also benefit from e-commerce because the relative costs of doing business online are quite low. Small businesses stand to be empowered by e-commerce trends. Harvest Hand makes it easier for recruit new members by making your farm more findable via the web. Brings ads, Wordpress, Wix, social media etc, all together in one platform. It is a huge advantage to CSAs to use social media so that they are interacting with and recruiting customers in the context of their peer networks. Once customers are recruited, Harvest Hand makes sign-up and payment easy by bringing Google Drives, PDF forms and PayPal together all on one web platform.Harvest Hand’s suite of communication tools make it easy to communicate with customers during the season, thereby increasing member satisfaction and retention. Small Farm Central (Simon Huntley,skyped in)
  3. 3. 2013 ACORN Conference Delta Beauséjour, Moncton NB Simon Huntley grew up on a small farm in Pennsylvania. Small Farm Central has been in business since 2006, managing membership sign-up, accounting and delivery logistics for CSA businesses. Small Farm Central also runs an online conference for CSAs. Member Assembler was built for farmers by farmers. It works very well for classic 16-20 week CSA models, but is less adaptable to year-round operations. Member Assembler offers a fantastic, fully staffed support team, as well as oneon-one set-up coaching services. Clients are given their own URL, so that members can go directly to what is ostensibly the farm website, rather than going through a Member Assembler site. In the United States, Dwolla checkout is available to clients at a fee of $0.25/transaction and 0% rate. This is a much cheaper payment platform than the traditional credit card network. It is not clear, however, whether Dwolla is available in Canada. Member Assembler places a lot of emphasis on member retention. It offers a member retention report which permits comparison from year to year. The report feature also makes it possible to compare membership retention rates between different pick-up locations so that you can consider why customers are happier with one system, method or location over another. For a free webinar about this and other features visit:http://www.smalfarmcentral.com/webinar Small Farm Central offers other CSA support services, such as an online conference that brings CSA experts together in an online environment. The cost of “attending” the conference is $25-70 per ticket. For more information visit:http://www.csafarmconference.com. Small Farm Central also hosts a CSA support group online via Facebook. Go to CSA Farmer Discussion on Facebook and ask to join the group, which is closed. Small Farm Central’s Member Assembler service is $30/month for CSAs with 50 members or less. The price is based on the size of the CSA.A 30-day free trial is also available for potential clients.

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