Innovative CSA Marketing Tools

Final Report for FW14-013

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2014: $24,299.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Thomas Powell
Wolf Gulch Farm
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Project Information

Abstract:

This grant project successfully funded the development of an open-sourced app to be used by Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers. Through careful development and refining of the product, including conducting focus groups and surveys of existing CSA members and running a beta-test of the app during the 2015 CSA season, the final app is easy to use for farmers and provides a wealth of information to CSA members on how to prepare and preserve their boxes of weekly produce. The project also included the develop of a user's manual for farmers who want to take advantage of the open-sourced technology, as well as a library of short video clips demonstrating easy food preparation techniques for CSA members.  During the final phase of the project, outreach to other producers, we have reached hundreds of farmers who are potentially interested in customizing the app for their own CSAs. CSAAppManual (1)SAREpressrelease

Project Objectives:

1. Marketing consultant Becky Brown convened three focus groups with current and potential CSA members to provide feedback on what information would be most useful to enhance participation in CSA programs in June and July 2014.

2. Marketing consultant Becky Brown conducted an on-line survey of 210 SSC CSA members to gather ideas and feedback on what information should be included in the design process of an app that will improve satisfaction with CSA participation in June 2014.

3. SSC farmer Tom Powell convened meeting with seven SSC farmers to brainstorm ideas about what information would be useful and easy to provide to CSA members in August 2014.

4. Based on the information gathered from the focus groups, on-line survey and farmer brainstorm, SSC farmer Tom Powell worked with app designer Josh Shupack, marketing consultant Becky Brown, and Thrive director Wendy Siporen to determine features of app in the fall of 2014.

5. Josh Shupack created the new web app, which is compatible with iphones, ipods, ipads, windows and mac computers. The app is open-sourced, free, and available for use by other producers using Community Supported Agriculture programs. The app was made available to 210 Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA members in 2015.

6. App designer Josh Shupack and marketing consultant Becky Brown created an accompanying Users Guide that  provides information for other producers on how to customize and use the app for their own branding purposes. The User's Guide was completed in January 2016.

8. SSC Farmer Liz Tree recorded five to seven minute weekly video "Lizzy''s Farm Kitchen" during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The videos have been uploaded to YouTube and linked to the CSA app. The short videos provided  SSC members with tips on how to easily prepare the produce in their box on a given week. Videos were shot from June-November 2014 and June-November 2015.

9. One SSC farmer and app designer Becky Brown attended the Oregon State University annual Small Farms Conference in February 2016 and presented information on the new CSA app. Two hundred and twelve producers attended the ninety minute session.

10. Two SSC farmers attended the Northwest Farmer to Farmer Exchange and presented information on the new CSA app in February 2016. One hundred and three producers attended the Exchange.

11 . Thrive provided information to their business members on the CSA app through emails in January 2016.

Cooperators

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Research

Participation Summary

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

At the completion of this grant project, we have:

  • Developed a new open-sourced app for farmers who run Community Supported Agriculture programs.
  • Developed a User's manual for farmers to customize the app to their own farms.
  • Produced 40 5-7 minute video clips on basic vegetable preparation and preservation tips and techniques.
  • Provided face-to-face trainings and information sessions for over three hundred producers.
  • Published (or soon to be published) articles/blurbs in the Oregon State Small Farms News, In Good Tilth, and Growing For Market
  • Sent press releases to the following publications and listserves:
    Local Harvest, Oregon Tilth, PACSAC (Portland CSA) listserv, The Oregonian, The Capital Press, Rogue Farm Corps, Thrive, Fair Share CSA Coalition, Just Food,
    Rogue Valley Farm to School,, COMFOOD listerv (Community Food Security Coalition - Tufts University), Shire CSA (CO), San Jose CSA (CA), Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance (WA), The Medford Mail Tribune, The Ashland Daily Tidings, The Grants Pass Daily Courier, The Portland Observer and Sneak Preview.
  • So far, we have received inquiries from the following groups and farms:University of Vermont Extension (VT), Lancaster Farming Newspaper (PA), Pitchfork & Crow (OR), Adelante Mujeres (OR), Seed to Table (OR), Senkos Farm (OR), Absolute Pastured Poultry (PA), Valley Flora Organics (OR), and Fry Family Farm (OR).
Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Impacts and Contributions of the Project:

The app is the first of its kind for CSA farmers and members. The purpose of developing the app was to increase the number of people joining CSAs, and increasing the retention rate of members.

CSA members from the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative were surveyed at the end of the 2015 season about the app.

74% of respondents indicated that they used the app more than once during the season to access recipes, watch cooking videos, or access other information

46% of respondents indicated that they were more likely to renew their CSA membership as a result of having the app as a resource.

As the app has just been released, we are unable to measure the impacts on other CSAs. However, we are seeing a great interest amongst farmers in adopting the app.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.