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Posts tagged ‘farmers’

Free Maps For Food Businesses – Share Where to Buy / Where You Source (and Put It On Your Website Too!)

We've recently released an integration with Sourcemap for businesses that have claimed their profiles. It quickly generates Where to Buy and/or Where We Source From maps.

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The 6 Social Tools That Farmers Should Use To Power Their Story

At Foodtree we pay a lot of attention to two worlds: food and technology.

As such, we feel as if we’re lucky to witness a lot of really cool things happening at the intersection of technology and food, especially as it relates to the people who are actually growing and making the food we eat.

The following are six of the greatest social media technologies and communities that offer food business owners incredible ways to tell their story and connect with food lovers around the world.

We know this list isn’t complete; be sure share ideas you have for using social tools to promote farmers in the comments!

Twitter For Farmers

By now most everyone’s heard of Twitter, but what you may not know is how many farmers and small food business owners have embraced twitter as a means of keeping in touch with their customers and fans.

A survey last year from the American Farm Bureau Federation showed farmers and ranchers aged 18-35 indicated that among the 92 percent that use computers, 46 percent regularly plug in to some form of social media.

We’ve got a working list of farms, farmers, and farmers markets on Twitter here…let us know who we’ve missed.

Tumblr For Farmers

Tumblr is now a community you can’t ignore.  As noted by Mashable, Tumblr’s pageviews in 2011 went from 2 billion to 13 billion and the 30 million blogs there now generate more than 40 million posts per day. According to Quantcast that pageviews number is pushing 15 billion in early 2012.

What’s this mean for farmers? It means that setting up a website to share stories, pictures, and videos is not only easy and free, but it means that food producers have an opportunity to participate in a community that’s well known for its attention to art, creativity, and wholesome causes.

Just check out the endless stream of posts about organic food or local food and you’ll quickly get a sense for the conversations you need to join.

Vimeo / YouTube For Farmers

The web is being eaten by video, and there’s no demand shortage for stories about our food system. YouTube definitely delivers the largest audience for online video, but Vimeo is worth a look for it’s vibrant community and cause-driven sentiments. Video watching are a mouthy crowd, too…YouTube users take a social action (like, comment, share) 100 million times every week.

Video is becoming the de facto medium for engaging with the web, and it doesn’t matter how you do it…it just needs to be done.

Share videos of your farm, productions methods, or your thoughts on food and you’ll find a ready audience of food lovers eager to engage with you and your business.

Take a look at the videos on Vimeo tagged with organic food or local food…each has hundreds of videos already shared.

Square For Farmers

Square is a relatively new device aimed at revolutionizing payments for small businesses. The implications for farmers, farmers markets, and small food businesses are extensive…you now have a fully reliable payment system in your pocket. With an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Android phone any business owner can accept payments on the spot.

It’s so easy that by downloading the Square app, they’ll send you a free card reader to facilitate payment.

We’ve been to hundreds of farmers markets and seen the pain of collecting payment without any access to traditional credit card payment methods…that problem is now solved.

Pinterest For Farmers

Foodtree on Pinterest

Pinterest is a rapidly exploding community centered around visual pinboards. It’s the Facebook Like on steroids, and the community is ripe with food lovers. In fact, Pinterest is growing at the rate that Facebook was in its early days.

Joining Pinterest requires an invite from a current user, but once you’ve joined you’re asked to set up Boards on which you’ll pin images you found on the web, uploaded yourself, or find within the Pinterest community. It’s another vibrant community of craft lovers, with most of the content focused on art, food, and culture.

If you’d like a Pinterest invite, let us know in the comments, and take a look at our first couple of boards! Also take a look at the pins tagged with words like food and farm.

Foodtree For Farmers

We’d be remiss if we didn’t give ourselves a little credit here. We’ve built Foodtree to celebrate the greatest things happening in food.

Our mobile app and mobile website are dedicated to sharing photos of fresh local food and understanding the connections that food businesses have with one another. Farmers use the app to share pics of their early morning harvest and to let food lovers know where they can buy it later on the same day.

Farmers and business owners without an iPhone needn’t worry! By claiming your profile you’re given access to our web photo upload as well, so anyone can start sharing photos and insight into their relationships right away.

Check out the photos being shared at farmers markets at San Francisco’s Ferry Building Market and Vancouver’s Trout Lake Market.

Do you own a food business? Head here to see all the goodies you get when you join us.

Got other tools and apps that are changing the way food is finding its way into our lives? Share them in the comments and we’ll add them to our next roundup!

Featured photo by Corey on Foodtree.

5 Reasons Farmers & Food Businesses Should Blog

A lot of small food business owners don’t blog because they don’t see the point. It’s not always clear what the immediate benefits are, and justifying the time away from more tangible business activities can seem like a waste of precious time.

We all know how busy farmers are. Restaurant owners, artisan food vendors, food truck entrepreneurs – they’re all typically starving for time, and any addition to the daily or weekly routine needs to be matched by a clear benefit to the business. Bringing food to us takes a lot of time and effort!

That said we pay a lot of attention to the ways that food businesses relate to their customers, and think it prudent to outline the ways that blogging can provide hard-working food entrepreneurs with tangible value.

If you’re not at all familiar with what a blog is then watch this video by Common Craft, Blogs in Plain English. It was made in 2007 but the information is still relevant today.

Let’s talk about why you should be blogging if you own a food business.

Share Your Story

These days people are looking for more information about what they eat. They want to know who they’re giving their money to, and they want to feel connected to the people who are producing their food. This offers food business owners a huge opportunity.

Consumers want to know about farming practices, sustainability, production methods, and how far their food has traveled. They want to see pictures and videos of the people making their food, along with pictures of the places that their food comes from. Increasingly, food consumers are rallying behind their favorite restaurants, farmers, and providers…often these are business owners they’ve met in person or feel an affinity for. A blog can establish that affinity.

Transparency is king these days and a blog is the ultimate platform for opening up.

Low Cost

Most blogging platforms are free to use and easy to set up. Within minutes of creating an account you can write your first blog post and share it with the world. Commonly used blogging software include WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous, and Blogger.

That said, the cost isn’t purely monetary. It takes some time to sit down and compose a post, but conservatively the time commitment’s about a half hour. When the benefits of connecting with your customers are weighed, it’s undoubtedly worth it to spend that half hour at least once a week.

Google Loves Blog Content

Having an active presence on the web makes it easier for people to find your business online. Million of people are searching Google for food every day, and you’re best advised to make sure that you turn up in those results. It’s easier than you think.

A blog is a simple way to make sure Google’s searchbots find you and your website. Your content will turn up in search results and the more you write, the more likely it is that potential customers will happen upon you when looking for the food they love.

Sharing Widens Your Customer Base

Blogging allows the people in your audience to share what you’re saying with the people in their audience. If they like what you’ve shared on your blog, they can easily share it beyond your immediate network of food lovers. Food bloggers can link to it from their own blogs. Customers can email it to friends, share it on twitter, or post it to Facebook. The possibilities are endless.

Consider the alternative; everything you say to a customer in person, or via an advertisement, is likely only going to reach them. It won’t reach their friends, family, or foodie network.

Keep Your Customers Informed

There’s no better place than a blog to keep your customers informed.

You’re a restaurant about to launch a new location? Write a blog post.

You’re a farmer with a new crop of tomatoes about to go to market? Write a blog post.

Your blog is an outlet to share news and information with your customers (and potential customers). It allows people to get to know who you are, your products and business practices, and upcoming specials or events.

Share your thoughts in the comments; why else should food businesses blog?

A Farm Uses Foodtree To Photo Fresh Food BEFORE The Market

We just noticed this…Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm is using the Foodtree app to let their customers know what’s about to be available at a local farmers market tonight…HOW GREAT IS THAT?

Check out Forstbauer’s profile and photo stream here.

The stream’s latest are photos of food recently harvested, taken by the farm themselves, and available tonight at the Royal City Farmers Market in New Westminster, just outside of Vancouver.

Talk about fresh, real time food insights. 

This is a truly innovative way for communities to see fresh food nearby, where they go to buy it, and who it’s made by.

If you’re reading this post and you’re near that market, why not head down and grab some Zuccinni Blossoms or Strawberries?


Scenes from the Trout Lake Farmers Market #vanfarmers

You may think we’re a little obsessed with the farmers market these days, and the truth is we’re VERY obsessed because it’s one of our main areas of focus. Connecting people with where their food comes from is what Foodtree is all about, and there’s no better place than the farmers market to bring together consumers interested in fresh local food and the producers and farmers who grow it.

I love going to the farmers market because it’s the place where I’m reminded that food is a beautiful thing. Where food is tastier when eaten in season rather than shipped from afar. I get really excited about finding some of my favorite food items, like asparagus, and enjoy them thoroughly for the short time they’re around.

These are just some of the many items available from vendors at last Saturday’s market at Trout Lake. Don’t they look enticing?

Opening Day of Trout Lake Farmers Market-6

Opening Day of Trout Lake Farmers Market-8
Apple juice from Klippers Organics

Opening Day of Trout Lake Farmers Market-3

Opening Day of Trout Lake Farmers Market-5
This woman was loaded down with two giant bags of rhubarb!

Opening Day of Trout Lake Farmers Market-9
Radishes from SOLEfood farm

Opening Day of Trout Lake Farmers Market-3
Fiddleheads from Promised Land Farm

Opening Day of Trout Lake Farmers Market-7
Mushrooms from Richmond Specialty Mushroom Growers

It was great to see so many people in attendance last weekend despite the grey and rainy day.

The Foodtree Team was glad to be there for opening day…we had an excellent morning talking to farmers, shopping for food, and tasting the season’s new food. Next weekend we’ll be at Kitsilano Farmers Market; make sure you say hello if you are there!

The New Foodtree Approaches

We went live. We opened up foodtree.com and did so with one thing we could stand up with; a profile page for the people who supply us with real food. Foodtree needed to be place to communicate their story and to share the details behind their methods or practices. So many wonderful food brands have trouble communicating, at scale, the details that make them different, and we want Foodtree to be a place in which transparency and communication are easy.

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Basic Vendor Profiles; Farmers Markets

Here at Foodtree, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about local food markets.

The primary spot that most eaters encounter the people actually producing their food is at the local farmers market.  In recent years, farmers markets have become increasingly popular, with more than 5,200 in the US at last count.  In Canada, estimated sales in 2009 topped a billion dollars.  That’s billion with a “B”!

Just last week Tara Mc-Donald, executive director of the Vancouver Farmers Markets, had this to say:

“We can’t create farmers markets fast enough, there are waiting lists of farmers who want to get in, but we don’t have enough space at any of our markets to put them all,” said Tara Mc-Donald, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Markets, which runs the city’s four established markets. “We are seeing upwards of 12,000 people a week.” [link]

That’s a sentiment popping up everywhere, and yet meaningful connections with the proprietors at these markets is pretty tough to pull off once you’ve left the market.  Just look at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market online directory…not a single street address is listed and there’s room for a phone number or a website, but not both.

With just minutes of research, we know that many of our local vendors have street addresses, phone numbers, and websites, and in many cases they even have facebook pages and twitter accounts.  Every one of those details is a way for eaters and producers to share feedback, answer questions, and remain loyal to one another.   

All over North America, the same problem exists.  The most basic directory information for our very best food producers is very difficult to find, and even harder to use for things like shopping lists, recipes, or sharing within a community.

So we’re starting at home, and we’re going to solve this problem.

This is why we set up an open collection spreadsheet for the Vancouver farmers markets, and sent along this tweet last week:

If you’re in the Vancouver area, feel free to pitch in.  Lots of what we’re looking for will turn up in Google, via vendor web pages and larger food directories.  Some of it isn’t available or doesn’t exist, and that’s fine too.  Entering “N/A” into a spot on the spreadsheet is perfectly acceptable.

Are you a food producer serving the Vancouver markets?  Make sure your information is accurate!

Here’s the thing; we’ll happily do this ourselves.  We think a decent list of the local farmers market vendors is something a community should have.  

Making the collection effort public seemed to be a fun way to bring everyone together on this, and to allow those of you who were just at the market to give a little back to the vendors who smiled and shook your hand.  

Thoughts?  Comments?  

If you’re in another city, we’re planning our next few projects, so let us know where you are and we’ll try to include you!