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4 Tips to Optimize Your Farm Images for the Web

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Great images are invaluable for marketing any farm or food business. However, creating, editing, sourcing, resizing and optimizing photos for the web can be difficult and time consuming if you aren’t a designer, photographer, or web developer. Here are our recommendations for how to optimize images for your farm or food business’ online presence.

1. Free and Easy Tools for Editing Images

When we’re not using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or Gimp (free and opensource), we simply use Instagram app or Canva.com for creating and editing web-friendly images. Both services are free and very easy to use. If we want a great looking square image with a filter (brightness, contrast, sunny etc.) for Facebook.com/HarvestHandCSA, Twitter.com/HarvestHand or our website, we’ll use the Instagram app. It’s easy to link your Instagram account to your Facebook and Twitter so you can quickly share photos with your community online. When we want to make an image collage, a poster, card, Facebook cover photo, Twitter cover photo, or a specifically sized image, we use Canva. Canva is an entirely web-based application, like HarvestHand, that has many design templates into which you can place your images or their stock images. Canva also offers very inexpensive paid designs and stock imagery (approximately $1/design or image).

Here’s a collage we made with Canva using free stock images(it took about 5 minutes):

Spring Seasonal Vegetable Collage in Nova Scotia

Tip: Instagram can also be an effective visual communications tool to communicate with your customers - do your customers use Instagram?

2. Where to Find Free Farm or Vegetable Stock Images

Original images from the farm are always the best. However, if you need an image for something that hasn’t happened yet, here are two options we recommend:

Flickr Creative Commons and FreeImages.comHere's a bunch of carrots image from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1389068:

Carrots from freeimages.com

Both have different types of licensing, but for the most part it’s easy to find great looking imagery for free as long as you make sure to give credit to the creator. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try asking one of your friends or customers for photos.

3. Resizing Images for Your Website

Always resize your images for the web. Even most smartphones now take images that are too large in file size (kb, mb etc) for loading quickly online. Before you upload your photos to your website, first shrink them to a smaller size using one of these tools:

Image Optimizer for one image or Smush.it  for multiple images at a time. Aim for file sizes less than 70kb and convert all images to JPEG format. If your image is larger than 70kb, try to keep it under 300kb. For most HarvestHand website themes, images that are between 200px and 1000pixels wide and 200px and 1000px tall are best. Image Optimizer provides you with various file size options which allows you to choose the best looking image with the smallest file size.

Optimize Images for Search with Descriptive Names and Alternative Image Tags (alt tags)

Approximately 70% of the links Google users click on are organic (not paid advertisements), meaning that people discover your content by searching in Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook etc. This is the reason it is very important that you name your images descriptively and in plain English (or the language of your customers). For example, instead  of leaving the image with a default name like “IMG2394870.jpg,” describe your image like this “50percent-local-club-logo-nova-scotia.jpeg”

Alternative Text (alt tags) for farm search engine optimization

For your “Alternative Text” (alt tag) write a description in plain language such as “50% Local Club Logo Nova Scotia 2014.” Think about how your customers search for products on your website. What naming patterns do they use when they search? In the example above, local foodies may search using the terms:

  • 2014 Local Food Club Logo Nova Scotia
  • Logo for 50% Local Food Club 2014
  • 50% Local Food Club Logo

What tools do you use to create or edit images for the web?


 



Get Involved with Local Food

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50% Local Food Club Nova Scotia

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to eat 100% local food? Did you know that the majority of food we consume in Nova Scotia is imported? (some estimates suggest over 90%) Imagine how different the Nova Scotia economy would be if we just ate local.

Recently, I (Duncan) have been inspired by friends at Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (Alicia, Keltie, Natalie and friends) who have successfully rallied over 2,320 Nova Scotian’s to join the 50% Local Food Club. Members of this club have pledged to eat at least 50% local food for the entire month of September 2014! Awesome, right? If you haven’t already, please join the club and share this challenge with your community: nslocalfoodclub.wordpress.com

Alicia Lake -Local Food Club 2014Keltie Butler Farmers Markets' Of Nova Scotia-Local Food ClubNatalie Smith

Why is local food important to us?

We, the HarvestHand community (join our community on Facebook) believe that it is imperative that everyone in the world takes action and becomes involved in strengthening their regional food system. Whether you are involved in food production, distribution, consumption or community, we believe that you can make a difference in making our food system stronger and more values-based (fair, good, clean etc.)

5 Great Ways to Get Involved with Local Food (in Canada):

 

1. Buy Food Directly from Local Farmers

Join a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) Farm (see our Canadian CSA Directory), buy food from a local farmers market (see  Farmers Markets' Canada Market Finder ) and or buy your food from a farm stand. This is the easiest way to get involved and support people growing and distributing food near you!

2. Attend a Local Food Event

Eat yummy food, meet people, and have a great conversation. One of the best ways to find local food events is through your local Slow Food Convivia. There are Slow Food community groups in 150 countries around the world and anyone is welcome to join. Find your local food community at http://www.slowfood.ca

Grow Your Own Food- head of lettuce

3. Start Growing Food

You can’t get any closer to local food then your backyard. If you don’t have your own garden space, join a community garden, ask your neighbor to use their land, or go work or volunteer on a farm.

Volunteer or work on a farm: Wooffing or WorkAway.Info- two worldwide networks for working on farms!

F5 Food Team

4. Work in a Food and or Farm Business

Look for food companies and farms near where you live and see if your skills match their needs. Local Food Work’s job section is a good place to look for local and sustainable jobs in Canada. Another way to get involved is to volunteer your skills through idea incubation, mentoring, and start-up events. In January we hosted our first food and tech start-up event called F5://Food Refresh Food! The idea is simple, bring together big thinkers,designers, software developers, food purveyors, and farmers together for 48 hours to work on software ideas to enhance local food communities. It was inspired by Hack Meat and Hack Food. Check out food.refreshannapolisvalley.org.

We’d be delighted to share what we learned if you want to start your own! Send us a note

5. Become Active in Food Policy

If you find yourself thinking philosophically about food systems, healthy food and food security, take action by getting involved with food policy! On November 13-16th, 2014, Waves of Change: Sustainable Food for All, Food Secure Canada’s 8th Annual Assembly, is being hosted in Halifax in collaboration with FoodARC at Mount Saint Vincent University, Nova Scotia Food Security Network and ACORN (which holds its 15th conference in the same location). 

Check out the newly updated speakers list for Waves of Change: Sustainable Food For All

 

Food Community Centres Canada

Kitchen photo from Community Food Centres Canada

Other great ways to get involved with local food in Nova Scotia include:

Farm to School Nova Scotia by Clean Nova Scotia

Ecology Action Centre (EAC)- Food Action Committee

Nourish Nova Scotia

Community Food Centres Canada


We want to hear from you, how are you involved with local food? 


 



TapRoot CSA Management with HarvestHand Software

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To make it easier for CSA farms to become more efficient and profitable using HarvestHand CSA Software,  we interviewed Teri Jenkins CSA and Communications Manager at TapRoot Farms to compile her daily workflow. If you are visiting our website for the first time, HarvestHand Software Platform was created at TapRoot Farms because Patricia Bishop (Co-owner of Taproot) needed an affordable software platform that could integrate membership management (database, reporting, communications), e-commerce (online ordering, payments) and marketing (website, newsletter, social media). Prior to launch, HarvestHand was successfully tested for 3 years with 4 farms, each of them reaching or exceeding their goals. As of January 2014, HarvestHand CSA Software is now available for all farms and open for sign-up.

Taproot Farm Overview

TapRoot Farms is now a 500+ member CSA in Port Williams, Nova Scotia.  Taproot has 3-4 delivery days per week and 6 different share types (veggie, fruit, meat etc.).

Taproot farms has grown from 50 to 500 members using HarvestHand - Patricia Bishop

Introducing Teri Jenkins

Teri Jenkins Taproot Farms

Teri’s Daily Tasks

  • Email- respond to emails needing same day response, file others.

  • Write blog posts (http://taprootfarms.ca/blog)

  • Post on Facebook about farm

  • Print all invoices and put into one of three drawers:

    • Share Invoices

    • Add-On Products Invoices

    • Don’t match records Invoices

Teri’s Week Workflow

TapRoot Farms Office Teri and Jon

Monday

 

  • Handle emails relevant to delivery.

    • Example 1: Member is new and hasn’t figured out how to add additional products to their shares. Teri refers them to the Taproot membership guide

    • Example 2: Member emails that they cannot pick up their share this week. Teri has a work around where she has an product add-on called “Donation/Vacation Week” so that when the delivery reports print, her team can see people who are not receiving

  • Print the Delivery Report (in HarvestHand go to Products>Deliveries>Reports>select report> Print) for Monday’s deliveries

  • Pack share boxes using delivery report (a.k.a- the packing list)  Here's a handy how to manage a CSA share delivery video:

  • For add-on products with price/weight, Teri enters the weight on a customer invoice and “finalizes the invoice.” Note: once Teri finalizes the invoice for a member an email is automatically sent to the customer to notify them of the updated total invoice

  • Taproot van leaves for deliveries

  • Van returns, Teri collects cash and cheque payments and marks invoices as paid in HarvestHand (in HarvestHand go Customers>Invoices>View>Mark Invoice as Paid by Cash or Cheque)

Tuesday

  • Assembles the Taproot email newsletter in HarvestHand and tests it a few times by sending it to herself

  • Write and or publish blog posts (many of which are added as excerpts in the newsletter)

  • Publishes other team members blog posts

  • Post to Facebook and Twitter (Teri does not use HarvestHand’s autopost to Facebook and Twitter because she assembles all her blog posts on one day)

  • When season begins, Teri export’s the customer list (Customers>View under customers>click down arrow beside “Add”>click “Export as CSV”) and sort by email in Microsoft Excel to find people who didn’t enter an email account at signup. Then call those customers to ask for emails. It saves time and paper by managing a members payments and communications via email in HarvestHand.

Wednesday (Multi-Location Delivery Day)

  • Print Delivery Reports for different locations(a.k.a packing list)

  • Collect weekly purchased add-on products (honey, preserves, meat, bread, eggs etc.)

  • Collect share items (fruit, flowers, veggies etc.)

  • Pack share boxes and add products

  • Pack boxes into van

  • Drive to make deliveries

Thursday (1 delivery day)

  • Print delivery report

  • Collect weekly purchased add-on products (honey, preserves, meat, bread, eggs etc.)

  • Collect share items (fruit, flowers, veggies etc.)

  • Pack share boxes and add products

  • Collect cheques and cash from returned van

  • Van returns, Teri collects cash and cheque payments and marks invoices as paid in HarvestHand (Customers>Invoices>View>Mark Invoice as Paid by Cash or Cheque)

Friday

  • Go into cooler storage and decide what will be in next-week’s share (this is done at least 2 weeks prior if shares require produce from other farms)

  • Enter share box items (Carrots, beets etc.) in HarvestHand under “Products>New Delivery” (make sure to enable it and save it) It will visible to customers on the website under http://taprootfarms.ca/shares and under a customer’s account. View video of Making Share Deliveries

  • Enter new products into HarvestHand, enable or disable products already saved in HarvestHand, update inventory numbers

Big thank you to Teri for taking the time to help us compile this.


Read more about CSA farm management with HarvestHand


 

 



Would you be willing to participate in our Grocery Shopping List Application Pilot Project?

Posted on by Michael Caplan

A message from the Wolfville Farmers Market ...

I feel genuinely proud to be a part of the Wolfville Farmers’ Market. I feel like we have vision and that we are in the fortunate position of being able to manifest it. We are part of an awesome community that grows and creates awesome products that people love to appreciate. It is a great exchange.
 
As a Market we are, of course, always exploring ways to help sustainably grow our vendors’ businesses; we have noticed that many of our customers are joining us for the social aspects of the market and less so for shopping. We are delighted to have everyone with us .. .after all it is our vision to nourish the "health and vibrancy of our communities," but we would also like to capture more of our visitors’ grocery and gift shopping dollars. We sincerely believe that it helps our whole community when people purchase from those who are accountable to them in ways that builds trust, knowledge, skills.   
 
We acknowledge that it can be difficult to shop at the Market. There are so many people to see and there is so much to take in. So what do we do about that? How can we help those who care about purchasing local and those who share our values - and who regularly come to the Market - to do more of their shopping at the Market?  
 
In the past we have explored incentives, marketing ideas, social media, videos about our vendors, special events to highlight and feature vendor products.   Now we are trying something different; and we would like to work with a few customers to help us see if we are on the right track.
 
The Wolfville Farmers’ Market has been working with HarvestHand to develop a Shopping List Application (app) for smart phones that can give our customers real-time information about what is fresh at the Market. This app will list what is available fresh at the Market, provide information about those products, and enable the creation a shopping list for the trip to the Market.   It is the first step in a potentially larger initiative which could make it possible for customers to pre-order (or maybe even pre-purchase) and have everything ready for them in a Market Box at the end of the day. Who knows, someone might even want to create a business to work with us to create a delivery service?
 
In the short term, we have a mobile application that allows customers to see what is available and create a shopping list. We have 35 vendors signed up with all their products loaded. But before we share this with the wider public, we would like to pilot this application with 20 people who would like to help us make it the best it can be.  
 

The Ask

Here is what we are looking for from those participating in the pilot:
 
  1. SIGN UP: You will be asked to sign up to participate in the pilot project by filling in a profile questionnaire that helps us understand a bit about you and your perspective.
  2. GIVE REGULAR FEEDBACK: That you commit to giving ongoing feedback, ideally at least once a week, to let us know what is working well for you and what needs improvement.   This can be general comments or specific logistical issues.   We hope that you will appreciate that this application is in development, so all your feedback can make a difference. Of course there will be glitches that we are excited to fix and ideas that we are hoping to explore now and into the future.   
  3. FOCUS GROUP:   That you are able and interested in participating in a focus group or interview at the end of the pilot period.
 

Goodies

We are really grateful to have you join us in exploring this very exciting project, which we anticipate will have a significant impact in encouraging shopping.   For those of you who join us in developing this new program, we will offer you $20 Market Dollars, a Market Bag, a Market Fridge Magnet, and a summary of our findings.
 
 

I Am In!  Next Steps...

 
Please fill in the form and we will get back to you within two days to confirm that we have your info and then on July 3rd we will email you a link to the shopping list app, and a feedback link; so that you can begin exploring and using it on July 3rd. 


FarmWorks creates jobs in Nova Scotia

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$721,000 of community investment in local food and farms

June 16, 2014, Halifax, NS – More than 25 jobs have been created as a result of strategic investments by FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited. FarmWorks announced today that 18 Nova Scotia food-related businesses have added 20 full-time jobs and six part-time jobs as a result of FarmWorks loans they received between May 2012 and December 2013. This is in addition to 21 full-time and 14 part-time positions held by the business owners themselves. The 2013 Workforce Multiplier Effect Study of Local Farms and Food Processors in Northwestern Ontario described a multiplier of 1.4, which indicates that 20 jobs in the local farm and food processing sector in Northwestern Ontario support eight additional jobs indirectly with suppliers and retailers.

Farmworks-loan-recipients-NovaScotia

Click map to view all 18 FarmWorks Loan Recipients

For startup and young businesses involved, roughly 25% of their total capital came from FarmWorks, representing a significant contribution to their businesses. For established businesses, loans accounted for 1.5% to 100% of project capital.

FarmWorks was established in 2011 to promote and provide strategic and responsible community investment in food production and distribution in order to increase access to sustainable local food for all Nova Scotians. Money invested in the FarmWorks CEDIF is used to provide subordinated debt funding to farms and food-related businesses to help increase the supply of local food, and the level of agricultural and related economic activity. Multipliers ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 bring about direct, indirect and induced economic improvement with relatively small amounts of local investment.

FarmWorks does not require collateral, payments are deferred for three months, and no fees are charged for loan applications or early repayment. Applicants’ values and goals must align with FarmWorks’, and extensive due diligence is required before loans are made. Protection of shareholder investments in the FarmWorks Community Economic Development Investment Fund is paramount in order to ensure the ongoing success of the CEDIF program.

The amount invested in the surveyed businesses was part of $449,500 raised in the first two CEDIF offers. The recently closed third offer raised $271,500 that is now being loaned to food related businesses across the Province. The total raised within 27 months was $721,000.

The survey was conducted by Dr. Irena Knezevic, PhD, Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and Chloe Kennedy, MSc, Farm to School Coordinator, Clean Nova Scotia, in March and April 2014.  

Linda Best, Peter Hicklenton, Ann Anderson
FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited

 


Read Why FarmWorks Matters, Nova Scotia, and beyond report by Irena Knezevic and Chloe Kennedy

The Chronicle Herald reports: FarmWorks points to investment fund results

For more information please contact Linda Best lbest[at]ns.sympatico.ca