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Fri May. 15, 09

Another spring has arrived. It is good to see farms listing their produce that is available.

Although Supporting locally grown foods is important we musn't forget to look at the big picture and understand some of the global challenges that farmer's are facing in our modern world. Population growth continues to grow very quickly.

There is a need for large scale agriculture, without which our lives would be quite different.

Shopping locally still provides the best and freshest foods for your plate and has many other advantages.

Recently I watched a talk on feeding the world by an expert on the topic. It was a very insightful presentation and if you have 20 minutes and a high speed internet connection, I would highly recommend that you watch it.

Presentation: Louise Fresco On Feeding The World

This spring we have planted, peas, red and white onions, 3 varieties of lettuce, arugula and two varieties of beets. Our egg production is up and we have gotten some new thornless black berries and some blue berries.

We will soon run out of room in our small garden and need to get an excavator in to clear the back four.

It might be time to start expanding.

Fri Sept. 26, 08

The first summer season is over for localfarmlink. It has been encouraging to see farms using the services as well as shoppers finding what they are looking for. The initial test for this idea has been quite positive.

However it was discouraging when I finally came to a realization that there was one major flaw to my entire plan. Most small local farms are able to sell pretty much all of their produce. Many farms asked why they should use my service in addition to their present marketing techniques.

That was a good question which I normally answered "by increasing demand you can increase price and profit". But in reality this is not always true. Shoppers are willing to pay a bit more for locally grown foods and more still more for "organic" but the average shopper will still buy most of their groceries in the local grocery store and choose the lowest cost product. Spending 25% more for locally grown is hard to do when your monthly bills are mounting with the ever increasing costs of fuel and everything else. There is a limit to the people who value locally grown over "affordable"

Still, I believe that localfarmlink can become a valuable on line resource for sourcing locally grown foods by maintaining a farmer driven database of currently available foods.

Over the winter my plan is to increase the features available from localfarmlink.com for participating farms. The free hosting for active members will continue as well as a template website which will mirror the information that you will have on localfarmlink.com. There will soon be the ability to upload logos and produce images.

If anyone would like a very nice website done with a few pages please let me know. My fees are very reasonable.

Meanwhile things are slowing down on our little property. Our bean and lettuce crop this year was abundant as well as the parsnips that grew to enormous size. Our chickens have finally decided to start laying eggs and we now have close to a dozen fresh eggs daily.

Mon May 05, 08

Traffic is slowly increasing to our website despite less registrations than hoped for. Many visitors are finding our website by searching for member's farms. This is a good sign for farmers and this project. It proves that people are willing and wanting to find information about farms on the Internet.

One farm in Comox Valley reports that some customers have reported finding their farm through this website.

This summer we will be advertising in regions where there are farms signed up and actively using the system. We plan to run weekly or biweekly ads listing the produce that is available.

Also starting this week there will be a weekly produce update emailed to all members of the website. If you have not yet become a member, now is the time to.

Another item to note is, in our efforts to promote our website we have become a member of celsius.com, a website dedicated to fighting climate change. Unlike many projects listed on this website our project has already been rated with four stars. Please checkout our listing at: http://www.celsias.com/projects/local-farm-link

Meanwhile here on our small lot the chicks have arrived and are very happy in their new digs. Things are sprouting in the garden and the rain seems to have stopped .... for now.

Thur Apr 17, 08

Things are coming along. Systems are working better now and the site is becoming much easier to use. You are able to set a cookie on your computer with the Remember Location link. Then when you return to the site your search area will automatically be set.

Another addition is allowing processors to sign up. These are secondary supporters of locally grown produce, butchers, jam and picklers ... anyone creating and selling food products from local sources. The next addition will be for farmer's markets but this is quite a bit more complicated.

Things that are coming soon will be the automatic emails that will be sent to all members informing everyone about what is available from their local farms.

Meanwhile, on our property, the chicken coop is almost finished and the chicks will be arriving next week. There are two sad wells on the property here that go dry near the end of dry summers. So to help with our water supply we installed a 600 gal tank beside the house and are collecting the rain water from the roof. This should help extend our water supply. We planted some peas, and beets. Today I might go out and finish up filling up the trench for the new plumbing and then plant some arugala. Hopefully we will sell some produce this year.

Fri Apr 06, 2008

Managed to redo the main search pages. There are now two seperate pages. The main index page is for area location. You are able to click the map or type in your town name. This will send you to the food search page. Here the list of farms and available produce is displayeds.

Another thing that has changed is that the system no longer logs visitors in under the name of visitor. This caused much confusion and hopefully the new page layouts will simplify the whole thing.

It is awkward since there are two home pages. If the system doesn't know who you are you need the area location page, once you establish the center of your search point there is really no need to return to the area selector.

Fri Mar 21, 2008

The west coast is warming up and spring is in the air here. Soon everyone will be tilling their soil and preparing for another busy summer.

Recently I took a trip through the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island and spoke with many different farms. I learned that there is much enthusiasm and interest in this website. A number of other farms said that they would sign up and use localfarmlink.

Our promotional plan for this summer will initially concentrate in the Comox Valley and Vancouver Island region. On April 22, Earth Day, we will be running a large consumer directed advertisment in the Comox Valley Record's Go Green insert. If all things work out we will also be running a weekly advert that will provide a list of available produce.

The systems to deal with advertising on this site have been set up and the search for advertisers has started. Once the advertising revenue begins to come in we will promote the website in other communities starting with areas where farms have already signed up.

Hopefully I will manage to find time to finish building my hen house and plant my garden.

Tues Feb. 05, 2008

The busy Holiday season is done, the ground hog didn't see his shadow and it is time to start planning for springtime.

The farms I have spoken with in the Comox Valley seem to be very keen on this idea. It would be great to see some more signups. This spring there will be an advertising blitz to attract more attention to this website and your farms.

The garden here is covered with snow but the rain is falling. Spring is more than welcome to return any time.

Wed Nov. 28, 2007

Been so busy lately but managed to find time to complete a very important feature of this website. All farms who have their own website can now easily add a dynamic list of produce available on their farm. The code can be found in your farm maintenance page at the very bottom, just simply copy and paste into your website where you would like it to display. You can check out an example of how this will look in a website here: Fermes BLB Farms. Now you can keep your local customers informed about your stock directly from your website.

There is snow on the ground here on Vancouver Island and winter seems to be with us although it is not quite cold enough for my liking. If only the temperature would stay below freezing. The snow is a refreshing change over the persistant rain we have had this fall.

Tue Nov. 06, 2007

A very exciting week! The first farm to join that found out about this site through our advertising campaign. Welcome Glen Alwin who saw our ad while looking at a website from Scotland! Many times I admired your nice, clean farm on my way into Courtenay.

Another great thing is the arrival of the new promotional media printout sheets from the best graphic designer in Vancouver. Thank you very much Cynthia.

Fri Oct. 26, 2007

I decided to dig out my old IBM Aptiva out with the 15" screen. It didn't want to start so I tapped the hard disk drive while turning it on and off. Once it started to spin I had to wiggle all the plugs on the mother board until it booted. Once it was up and running the monitor started to heat up. Then a family of spiders crawled out.

What does this have to do with this website you are wondering. Well I discovered that the site did not work at all in IE6 on Windows 98. It looked like crap. So my adventure of getting this site to be cross browser compatible started.

Spent the better part of today redoing the css and then refreshing the layout of all the pages. Also IE6 and 7 seemed to have a terrible time with the containing the googlemap in a scrolling div. So I gave up! My solution is to detect the width of the user's screen and then set the min-width and map size to match the screen.

It would be nice if folks would tell me if the site is not working on their computer so I can trouble shoot these issues but it seems no one ever does.

Now I have to deal with a rat that just sprung my trap. Little bugger had the gaul to munch my son's pumpkin.

Wed Oct. 3, 2007

Many upgrades and improvements. There are a number of ways to log in to the system. Including: typing in your town,state or province, moving the map to your area and clicking button, clicking on a farm's profile, or by arriving at the site from a search engine result for a farm's profile. (eg. do a google search for "snapdragon acres" then click on the localfarmlink result.)

For the farmers the maximum time before the produce expires has been increased to one month. That way if your product is stored in cold storage or frozen then you do not need to update your stock as frequently.

Promotion has also been given a boost. We are trying to gain support through some on line networking, google adwords, and some print ads in rural papers and publications directed towards farmers.

Also welcome to Howard Road Apples. mmmmmm good. My whole family loves your apples.

Fri Sept 28, 2007

The graphics have finally arrived and the site has gotten a face lift. Hopefully the new design will encourage people to participate. Now with the graphics we will also be able to post some attractive advertisements In the Comox Valley.

Another thing that must go is the user log in. Visitors should arrive at the site, click on the map and start shopping.

Sun Sept 9, 2007

Ditched the ip positioning system. It was highly unreliable so we are back to the north america map for starters. There are now separate registration pages for the farmer and the user registration. This will hopefully make things simpler.

This week will be the time to build the API to allow farms to easily post on their websites what produce they have posted with us.

Due to the nice weather and the need to fill the woodshed there has been little time to work on the site. Went out with the boys today to get some wood. My 5 year old is now able to help unload the truck while I split and stack.

Tue Sept 05, 2007

Looking into having some slick graphical work done for the site. It will be nice to see the chunky html look to go away. I personally like it though.

Another farm has signed up and brought attention to some log-in / geolocation problems. The google geolocation tool that figures out the Latitude and Longitude from addresses gets mixed up easily with street names and postal codes. If it can't figure out where you live, it puts you in the Pacific Ocean. I rewrote the code to do up to three searches for each address. If the first search does not work then it is tried again with less info until it determines coordinates.

Also the home page map, before log-in, is now positioned determined by ip address location. We are using a community-based database made available by www.hostip.info. It would be nice to hear from some people how this works and if the map shows anything close to where you live.

Sat Aug 25, 2007

After spending many evenings sitting at my computer (that has been making a funny clunking noise lately) this site is getting to the point where it could operate. Unfortunately sales is not one of my talents.

This past week I have spoken with many people, farmers, and business owners about this project and have gotten a lot of positive feed back. One real farm has designed their sign post and tested the system and there are more expected to sign up soon. Welcome Snapdragon Acres!

Maybe tomorrow the cement slab that need removing in the back will get my attention. The firewood pile needs replenishing also and fall is just around the cornor.