I appreciate everyone’s support of my cryptic messages about big things in 2015! And no, I’m not pregnant, or getting llamas (yet), or quitting my day job (another yet). But I am launching a new project. One that will need your support!
I’ve been writing Farming Fort Collins for nearly two years. I love it, and don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere. During that time I’ve watched the numbers of readers expand greatly, launched a newsletter, and have become a part of the community I live in. And through your feedback and questions, as well as the popularity of the newsletter, I’ve identified some gaps in our local food system. Mainly the gap of reliable information.
In researching for Farming Fort Collins I’ve experienced first hand the frustration with incomplete and unreliable information when searching for local food producers. There is so much information out there, whether online or in print. The more I learned about all the wonderful producers in our community, the more I saw how frequently many of them were missing in the available directories, even from some of the best sources. That doesn’t work for the farmer or the consumer. The old “if you build it they will come” mentality isn’t enough. Customers need to know the producer is there in order to support it. Currently the state of our food source directories are more like “out of sight out of mind”.
It got me thinking. I love providing information to folks. Connecting them to what they are looking for. Turning folks on to the magic of local food. That’s what the Scoop Blog Network is all about, right! Connecting you to everything of value in your community. Well, what if there was a way to provide curated information to folks. Information that doesn’t rely on a large number of people to post it, but rather relies on a small number of folks to find it, verify it, and present it in a way that is user friendly to search for exactly what you’re looking for. Want grass-fed/grass-finished beef in small amounts? Looking for a year round CSA share that drops off within 10 miles of your home or work site? Maybe one that delivers to the home or office? Do you know where to order your local organic raised turkey for Thanksgiving? An egg share? Etc, etc, etc.
Coming this spring just such a thing will be available to Northern Colorado, and Colorado as a whole later this summer. That thing is The Pig and the Plow: a farm and ranch directory to the freshest food near you! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. The website will be available on a subscription basis (just $25 a year!), and created with the best search features available today! Every farm or ranch that engages in direct sales to the public will be listed, along with comprehensive profiles of their operation and available products. The best feature, is we do the homework for you! Ensuring information is up to date and easy to find. Our goal is to make buying and eating locally easy!
The blog and newsletter will also be expanding into a bi-monthly digital magazine for subscribers of the directory, bringing you even more information about local ag, expanded farm profiles, an extensive community calendar, recipes and more.
The added benefit for the farmers is that we will be making sure you can find them. They won’t have to worry about posting their information or finding us to participate in the website. It’s our job to find them and build an ongoing relationship with them. We want to stay in the loop about what’s happening on their farm. What new products or delivery options are available. The goal is to also provide them an e-commerce platform by the end of the summer so they can sell to you directly while providing them the technical support they need to do so. Why is this important? Because they deserve the luxury of focusing on what they are best at, growing food, without having to worry about whether or not the website crashed during peak season or did they remember to update the new prices or pick up locations.
To get this project off the ground it needs community support! I’ve already got a database of the farms and ranches in Northern Colorado (email me at Erica@farmingfortcollins.com to make sure we’ve got your farm or ranch in the Directory). There are a team of nerds getting started on the building and programming of the website. We just need the last bit of funding to finish the project up and have it ready for launch for May 2015.
That’s why we will be launching a funding campaign next week that will go through February with our local friends at Community Funded. Several farms supporting the new directory have donated a boatload of great rewards as an incentive for folks to support the Community Funded campaign. Everything from tickets to farm events, farm school for kids, locally made items, sampler shares for folks to check out local farms and even a year long medium sized vegetable share! Included with every local donation over $15 is an inaugural year’s subscription to The Pig and the Plow!
One question you may have is why will the site be subscription based? That’s easy. Because information needs to be sustainable too. Many of the free sites place the cost of doing business on the businesses they are trying to support or through advertising. We don’t want to inundate folks with ads of stuff they don’t want or need. (I’d pay facebook to leave me alone! Didn’t I join to connect with family and friends, who I barely see anymore because of the ads. Yuk) We want to spend our time supporting our local small farmers and ranchers. We didn’t want to see participation and listings dependent on farmers paying to be included. The goal is to have the most comprehensive listing of farms available. Pay for listing doesn’t help us reach that goal. Hence, a subscription service that is super affordable, as well as membership levels for farmers that provide additional support and sales platforms for them. It spreads the costs among everyone, inevitably keeping the costs lower for everyone. Thus, it is self supporting and sustainable!
So, with that I invite you to support local farmers and the building of a stronger local food economy through this project! The CFC campaign will be launching within the next two weeks and will be live for 30 days. Links to the campaign will be sent out as soon as it’s live. Jump on the opportunity to get your discounted membership during this time, let your friends and family know about it, and share the love for your farmers and ranchers!
***Special thanks to the folks who are supporting this campaign through their amazing donations! Big thanks to Happy Heart Farm, Grant Farm CSA, Laughing Buck Farm, Shire CSA, Old Dern Farm, Cresset Farm, Sweet Roots Festival, Briar Gate Farm, The Scoop Blog Network and extra thanks to Nicole of Friendly Critters Farm for rallying the troops!!!
Stay in the loop by following The Pig and the Plow on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thepigandtheplow