News and blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 4/8/2010 5:20pm by Gayle Ganser.

Spring Oh Glorious Spring, happy you are here. Although the temperature seems more like summer, the signs of spring are all around us; red winged blackbirds, robins, spring peepers, toads in the pond. Of course other signs of the season can't be missed either, plowing the fields, transplanting tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse and re-opening for the season at the market. I always wonder if it is truly worth closing at Christmas only to re-open in April. The amount of work to clean, restock, schedule and organize seems overwhelming at times.Although,  I guess I would miss cozy winter days by the coal stove. The past two weeks have been crazy busy.  The greenhouses are now virtually overfilled. We keep moving plants to and fro to make more room and also to harden them off(kind of hard when it is 70 degrees at night). Still planting more potted annuals for those beautiful summer containers we are all yearning to put together. Also transplanting perennial seedlings, and  boy have they grown with this heat. Have some great interesting varieties this year again. Some of the old and lots of the new. Vegetable plants are going to be great. Lots of new tomatoe  varieties, including some neat heirlooms. And of course our usual great selection of peppers, squashes, melons, eggplants and more. We will have lettuces and cabbages for opening week. More will follow as we near the frost free date. 

Please stop in next week. We open Tuesday the 13th. Again we start with our overwintered perennial sale. All of last years varieties offered at last years prices. Great affordable way to build your perennial selection. Also pansies, primrose, mountain pinks, and much more. We will be serving up goodies on Saturday and Sunday(17&18) to welcome everyone back. Look forward to seeing familiar and new faces!                       

Posted 3/22/2010 11:56am by Gayle Ganser.

Early spring is a busy time at Eagle Point. We have recently opened up all four greenhouses. That also means heating all four greenhouses. Luckily this past week has been warm and sunny and heating has been minimal. However, we are now entering a cooling trend and the heaters will be running again. Such is March. Seeds, plugs, cuttings and bare root stock started arriving early February. We delayed starting till the first of March to conserve on heat. Now we are full swing. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the houses fill up. You start with one tray and before you know it there isn't any room to even walk. This past weekend we finished planting up bare root stock. These are the larger items such as, bleeding hearts, sidalcea, verbascum and the like. We also planted two varieties of Tree Peonies, red and a red/white bi-color. Should be beautiful. This year we are also trying Banana plants for bold accents. They are very small now, hopefully in a couple of months they will be big and beautiful to put in your containers. Steve is also finishing transplanting of the marigolds. Always a big seller, marigolds give you your money's worth in the garden. Tomatoes and peppers are on their way. Little transplants will soon be ready for the garden. Fieldwork has started too. Yesterday Steve tilled for the onions. They should be arriving anyday to be planted. Everyone will be surprised to see a new color pallette at the market. Steve and Mark worked extra hard to paint the interior walls to match our color scheme of yellow, barn red and light green. It looks great. Bright, sunny and fresh!! Too much to be done at this time of year: the market, farm and greenhouses all biding for our limited time. This is what makes life fun and interesting. I am very grateful I have the stamina to get it all done. Although Steve and I do fall asleep very early these days!!! Its either lots of hard work or old age!! Its now back to the greenhouse, the soil and planting.

Posted 2/22/2010 12:54pm by Gayle Ganser.
Small farms today are direct marketers and as such are in the business of relationship marketing with each customer that buys products from the farm. The customer is not at the CSA pickup, farmer's market,  or on-farm market because it is easiest or cheapest food source -- they are there because they respect the farmer, want to support the local economy, and feel that their dollars are spent on a worthwhile endeavor. Every chance you get as a farm to interact with your customers should reinforce the connection to the land and make the customer feel like they are doing a good thing by patronizing your business. This is a very difficult task for a busy farmer. I challenge you to take your relationship marketing into the 21st century and start a blog on your farm website.

I'm sure some of you are unclear on the meaning of the term "blog". It is a rather fluid term that is a shortened version of "weblog." In my mind, it signifies a webpage that displays content of varying lengths in chronological order and invites readers to interact in the form of comments. Often, blog postings are categorized or tagged by topic so that users can navigate through related blog entries by the tags, such as "farming challenges" or "farmer's market." Blogs take many different forms from personal, public diaries to political commentary to blogs that are published by businesses themselves. This is the most popular form of content generation and information retrieval on the Internet today and the very website you are looking at right now, Small Farm Central, is a blog-style site. If you have heard of the term "Web 2.0", blogs are big part of the Web 2.0 movement.

Your farm should blog because it is an easy and time-effective way for you to get your story out to customers. Repeat customers come to you because of the relationship that they have with you and a blog is a perfect way for you to start and augment the real-world interaction that you have with the customer. Granted it does take some time, energy, and thought to produce effective blog posts that communicate the farm experience, but that post will easily be read 100s or 1000s of times over the life of your blog. That works out to be an extremely time-efficient way to build a consistent and faithful customer base. Customers that read your blog will be more understanding of blemishes or crop shortages because you can explain the exact cause of the problems. This becomes a story that they can take home with their produce and they will feel more connected to the farm and the food if they know some of the challenges that went into growing it.

The complaint I hear the most is that farmers don't have time to be writers as well as producers. Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo dedicates one afternoon every two weeks to writing six blog articles. He then releases one each Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. There are other techniques of course too: get a trusted intern to write an article each week, find a very enthusiastic and involved customer who will volunteer to write a blog article every once and a while, or just commit to posting a short update once each week. There is no right way to write or schedule your blog, but post on a regular schedule and write with passion because passion is infectious.

At this point, if you are considering a farm blog, start reading a few established farm blogs and get some general advice on how to write blogs. I have discussed some aspects of blogging at Small Farm Central in Farm blogging isn't always literature, but this is and What I learned during an interview with Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo. Blogging will be a topic that I come back to over the next few months because I believe it is the core of any modern farm web marketing strategy.

Some farm blogs to get you started:
  • Eat Well Farm Blog : recently discussing problems with the Med Fly and how they are certifying their packing shed as Med Fly-free.
  • Life of Farm Blog : this blog is sponsored by the Mahindra tractor company. Perhaps the writer got a free tractor for writing the blog?
  • Tiny Farm Blog : wonderful photos and at least a post a day.
  • Rancho Gordo Blog : this popular blog receives 300-500 unique visitors a day (which is impressive for a farm website) and even helped the author secure a book deal.

Read about the process of writing a blog and more:

Spend the next few weeks reading farm blogs and exploring some of the resources listed above. Then when you think you know enough about blogging to start, you will probably want to go back to Hosting Options to get your blog online. Not coincidentally, the Small Farm Central software contains all the features you need to get your blog (and farm website) up and running within a few days. I know that not very many farms are taking blogging seriously as a marketing tool, but I have a strong feeling that every serious farm will have a blog in five years.
Posted 2/22/2010 12:54pm by Gayle Ganser.
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