Author: Jim Cupples, All the Farms Platform Manager
Publish Date: Fall 2019
In spring of 2019 my colleagues and I went through the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator with a very challenging yet simple concept - We wanted to create a way to help people understand who their local farms were and what type of products they created. Our solution is the All the Farms platform discussed below.
Of course, we’re not the first ones to ask this question and there are dozens (if not hundreds) of sites around the country that specialize in finding farms and ranches for a particular area. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we saw our role as mainly consisting of three things 1) Collecting and standardizing information, 2) Making the information addresssearchable, and 3) Being as inclusive as possible, so to be true to our name All The Farms.
By doing background work and connecting with our local food producers, we also saw that farms and ranches might receive marketing benefits from a consolidated site, especially one like ours that prompted people to enter their address. We feel that there is a market for people that want to eat local, but the first step is to inform our communities on what is available. It is only when a shopper understands the local options for food producers that the shopper can meet the restaurant or grocery store on an equal level and ask for a farm specifically to be carried.
As we continued to work on All The Farms, we found ourselves fortunate to recruit people to the project that were either currently farming or ranching, or came from a farm/ranch household. Having this type of insight prompted more opportunities to offer value to our local food chain through some fairly routine legwork. For instance, we can share with farms and ranches on our site information like: what the five most searched for products are in a given area; whether people are looking for U-picks or Farmstands; and, how many unique site visitors their farm or ranch has received during the preceding month. These small pieces of data may allow farms to adjust the products they advertise (featuring the more desired ones), or simply knowing how far away the people visiting their webpages are.
All The Farms has an initial Oregon focus, but we hope to continue our growth regionally and eventually nationwide. The inevitable question asked is, “Great. How are you going to make money?” and that is valid. The mere aggregating and standardizing of this local farms data has an interest from a variety of companies looking to source more from local farms. Consumers want to eat local and we are going through a sea change in logistics that will allow distribution to a much wider audience. We also feel that there may be academic value to university agriculture schools that creates room for state by state partnerships.
Lastly, our product is a work in progress. We are not a huge company, and we own 99% of our company (with only OSU holding the other 1%). What we would most appreciate is feedback so that we can improve our product. We will have computer science, agbusiness, and other OSU students employed throughout the year and working on All The Farms, so let’s make sure they have plenty to do! Please follow this link to our site, and there is a brief questionnaire that we ask farmers, ranchers, and food producers to complete. If you do not see your farm or ranch, simply follow the link to add your business (and let us know how it went.) We can be reached at info@allthefarms. com or you can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org - Thank you