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Description 

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) is an American national advocacy network of young farmers fighting for the future of agriculture.

Notes

  • Farm Generations is a cooperative in New York state that can only be owned by farmers
  • GrownBy is a software platform they've been working with Moon Farmer on for the last year, launched with seed funding from the USDA
  • They sell what are effectively subscriptions to their farm to farmers
  • Online capabilities were wanted to offer more ways to handle payments
  • Now working on customer tracking and other features
  • Software that had previously been available has had issues
    • No transparency around data usage
    • Rates doubling overnight
    • Changes to the terms of service
  • A previous product eventually came to be a competitor with the community-based farms in New York
  • Many of their users are new to farming, new to business
  • Values
    • They want the farmers to be part of the design and the project/company
    • They want the farmers to be viable
    • Concerns about equity in farming and food access
    • Cooperation!
    • Land stewardship and future success and future generations
    • Consumer rights like transparency about how their food is grown, etc.
  • Comparison of direct-marketing software products vs GrownBy
    • Customer relationship management
    • CSA: none of the current CSA platforms are farmer-owned
    • Farmers markets
    • Farm stores
  • For a lot of farms right now, they might be using more than one software solution to provide the features that GrownBy will be providing in one place
  • Square for farm stores, listed a few CSA platforms
  • Written in Go, front end is React, GRPC API in Go
  • Single-page app
  • Each farm will have a small website set up in the app
  • Users can enroll and sign up for shares of crops/meat/other food
  • Admin features!
    • Tabs that form the main features and functions of the site
      • Customers that you have
      • Locations of the farm or locations associated with the farm for whatever reason
      • CSA
        • CSAs
        • Shares
        • Schedules with individual distribution dates and deliveries
      • Website itself can be managed, which info shows up
      • Services, external services to be integrated like QuickBooks or Mailchimp or others
    • Features show up as modal "drawers" sliding in from the left
    • Have they considered a11y, tested out tab order, screen reader
      • They've built an a11y process into the organization
      • The software started before this process, but they have, yes
      • Alt tags, use of titles and usability with screen reader, they haven't yet
      • Resources make it tricky to incorporate this work
  • We have the Platform Cooperative Development Toolkit that we're working on
    • Codesigning different tools that coops might need
      • Marketing tools
      • Governance tools
    • The GrownBy content authoring area is very relevant
  • What is their licence?
  • Are farmer-members owners of the software as well?
  • Farm Generations (farmers) is the sole owner of the software and all aspects of it
  • Haven't really addressed if it should be FOSS or not
  • They're meeting with Trebor Schultz for the first time tomorrow, intro through Jutta
  • Farmers will be beta testing their software for free this summer, and then it seems like they will probably have a model based on a percentage of sales
  • After a farmer/user generates about $10,000 in sales on the app, they would be invited to join the Farm Generations coop, and then get a voting share, dividend, building equity in the company as well
  • Mainly looking at this as an agricultural marketing cooperative, but perhaps in the future they can consider inviting the workers at the farms and others to be owners in the coop as well
  • They're open to it but haven't had time to fully consider what their path will be
  • FOSS involves a lot of work, making sure the code is up to snuff and usable
  • Their dev stack is on the new side, but their tools are all open source
  • GPRC allows very easy conversion to REST
  • The UI looks pretty simple, would be fun to test it out
  • What are the proposed or already-existing pieces of Platform Coop?
    • Still figuring some of it out
    • Have done codesign with SEWA in Gujarat, India
    • They're a federation of coops doing home beauty services, so they really wanted to focus on marketing. Limiting the scope is key, using pieces that already exist
    • Working on a sort of guide for coops like legal info and templates, guides and how-tos, information that can be shared between cooperatives and customized on the website of each coop
    • A labor platform for things like scheduling, payment processing, etc.
    • Co-Rise in Chicago were interested in tools to support business admin like keeping track of members, recruitment, and such
    • We're still working on codesign activities with various partners
  • Farm Generations has the benefit of working closely with NYFC, who track their membership. Currently using Salesforce, but that will not be viable at some point
  • Back to the admin site
    • Created a CSA for the IDRC, "Quack Form Cooperative"
    • Can set up a schedule
    • Decide what to do with missed pickups
    • Deciding the kinds of share
    • Can create shares that can be added to multiple CSAs
    • Can create schedules like seasonal, annual, etc
    • Some things in the Hudson valley are very seasonal, not much in the winters, whereas in California for example you can grow year-round
    • Can choose various billing options for shares, monthly-seasonally, weekly recurring, monthly through a particular period, etc.
    • Distributions
    • The reason things are a little complicated is because it will differ based on who the farmer is, and this will change depending on the kind of farming they do, and where (NY vs CA)
    • CSA is just a type of marketing model, so GrownBy is to help them sell however they'd like to sell to their customers based on their needs
    • Certain types of CSA could not be supported by the app based on their limited resources, but it was good to see the creativity on the part of the farmers for the various models they would like to have
  • They've built it and are looking to testing it
  • Thinking about next steps like involving farmers
    • Currently have 10 beta testing farmers
    • Figuring out the most effective way to communicate and document the process with them
    • They'd like to provide good customer service
    • Good support and customer service has been something that many farmers and growers organizations have talked about being very important
    • The responsiveness is more important than the features, in some sense
    • E.g. Square doesn't work with a scale, but their CS is quite responsive
  • farmgenerations.coop will be released soon, maybe tomorrow
    • Asking farmers to sign onto a wait list for the beta
    • They'd like to raise more money to do more development
    • They'd like to be able to say they have a good number of farmers using it
  • What are best practices they should use for gathering and managing feedback from users during their test period?
    • Slack? Other tools?
    • Involve users right from the beginning, they'll express the features they desire
    • Take the software to a farmers market, have a stand and ask people to sign up, reach out to customers and farmers at the same time
    • Take it to farms or other places
    • If you're familiar with the customer base, get in touch with them through surveys or questionnaires to gather feedback on their needs
  • Creating a waitlist to help farmers articulate interest in order to more easily gain funding for more development?
  • How realistic would it be to get a bunch of farmers in a room live?
    • They'll be using it for sales
    • The idea is that it can be used to brainstorm, easier feedback
    • This works remotely too
  • NYFC is national and has a large member base that has expressed interest
  • The platform may not lend itself well to UX testing on anything other than the website, since there's a physical aspect of the product like logistics management, etc
    • Did it take less time for the farmer to figure out and pack their truck
    • Was it easy for a customer to sign up for a CSA and use it
  • Sustainability and feature development
    • Where are opportunities for collaboration with other coops?
    • Are there other pieces that can be shared with/by other coops?
  • They're currently using Stripe for their payment processing
    • Some of the members will be getting cheques, they'll need to track customer info
    • At some point they may want to remove Stripe integration
    • They want to be able to accept SNAP benefits
  • What next steps could there be with IDRC?
    • They're talking with Trebor tomorrow, that'll be interesting, they may get involved with the Platform Cooperativism project

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) is an American national advocacy network of young farmers fighting for the future of agriculture.


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