New Technology Available for CSA Farmers Funded by Western SARE

.
Publish Date: 
Spring 2016
VolNo: 
Vol. XI No. 2

Siskiyou Sustainable CSA App

The Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA of Jacksonville, OR recently unveiled new technology available at no cost to CSA farmers looking to connect with their members. This innovative, open source software is the first of its kind and was developed through funds acquired from SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education).

At a time when farmers work hard to keep up with some of the latest trends in the local food movement nationally, Siskiyou Sustainable Coop CSA coordinator Maud Powell sought to provide a high-tech, user friendly tool to support CSA members interested in having their member information right at their fingertips. “CSAs continue to be a great marketing channel for farmers, but in order to attract customers, they need to be adaptive to cultural trends,” says Maud.

The CSA App was developed by Josh Shupak with assistance from Lars Faye of Chee Studio and Becky Brown of iWrite. Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA members participated in surveys and focus groups to determine the features and functionality that would be used in the App. The CSA App supports CSA members in having easy access to product information, recipes, cooking and storage tips and nutritional information for the produce found in their weekly CSA shares.

The mobile friendly App was created using a web based platform and is easily customizable by anyone comfortable using a computer and navigating the internet. “The whole idea is to keep it simple for the farmer and easy to use for the membership,” says Powell. “I wanted to help make CSAs more relevant and accessible for younger generations, and the most obvious way to do that is through the use of technology.”

Farmers can utilize the templates in the web platform to create their very own personalized App that includes product information and photos, recipes, cooking videos, farmer bios and any specific instructions about how and where to pick up weekly CSA box deliveries. Creative users may even find additional ways to provide valuable information to their members using this mobile technology.

Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA member Heidi Dawn finds the new App useful. “Like a lot of people these days, my smartphone has become an important organizational tool for my busy life. Having access to recipes and cooking videos that feature the same vegetables that I am picking up each week throughout the season makes my life a lot simpler.”

CSA members tend to cook and shop around what comes in their weekly box of produce. “I’m much more likely to eat what’s in my CSA share if I can find quick and easy ways to prepare meals that my whole family will enjoy. The new CSA App helps me do that,” reports Dawn.

Access to the customizable web platform is provided free of charge, although a valid credit card is required to secure information in the account set up phase. All content (product information, photos, recipes and more) was developed by the Siskiyou Sustainable Coop and is open source and available for use, although individual customization may be necessary to reflect the specifics of a particular CSA farm.

For more information and instructions on how to get started, please visit: http://www.siskiyoucoop.com/