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Vermont Digital Economy Project partners, VCRD and VtSBDC, are offering free digital advising for farm and forest businesses

http://vtdigitaleconomy.org/programs/digital-economy/updates/nofa-and-more

Digital tools have become essential to farmers. From Amanda Andrews at Tamarack Hollow Farm, who used Kickstarter.com to raising the necessary funds to move her farm off of a flood plain and is using Instagram to promote the farm, to Eric Rozendaal of Rockville Market Farm, who, in addition to Facebook and Twitter, also uses farm specific online marketing and management tools such as Farmigo, and Farmers to You, the mobile phone or computer is becoming as essential to the success of farmers as a good pair of work gloves.

Educational institutions and local businesses are also developing new tools for farmers. For example, Yourfarmstand.com, developed in Charlotte, VT, enables consumers to buy fresh local food directly from local independent farmers and producers in one simple transaction. Online tools are becoming a key to success both in the fields and in the offices of farm and forest businesses throughout the state.

The Vermont Digital Economy Project is committed to assisting farm and forest businesses adopt these new technologies that, if used appropriately, will result in working landscape businesses becoming more profitable and more productive. We are accomplishing this through a combination of one-one advising conducted by the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), workshops at the upcoming NOFA Winter Conference on Feb 15 and 16th, and a Food Systems Hackathon held in conjunction with Code for BTV, Room 9 Redevelopment and the New Moran Team, and the University of Vermont.

Get Free Assistance:

Apply for One on One Advising

Leaping into the digital world can be intimidating and time consuming. Thanks to our project partner, the Vermont Small Business Development Center, we can now offer individualized, in person assistance to demystify various online tools, strategize which tools are most appropriate for managing and promoting your businesses, and leverage the resources necessary to integrate the tools into your farm or forest operation. Services include website development, social media strategy, disaster preparedness, and the integration of farm specific mobile apps and desktop tools to assist you in managing, promoting, and preserving your farming operation. Request these free services.

Attend a Workshop at the NOFA Winter Conference

Our goal at the upcoming Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) Winter Conference is to examine the nexus between technology and our food system. What online and digital tools are farmers currently using to manage and promote their farm? What digital tools, if built, would make it easier and more effective for farmers to prosper? There will be two workshops at the NOFA conference to help you start thinking about how technology on and off the farm can make your operation more profitable and more enjoyable.

The first workshop, How Can Technology Help Vermont's Farmers & Food Systems?, deals broadly with the question of how digital tools can assist farmers, and also offers an opportunity for you to share your experiences and propose new tools.  We invite you to join a round-table discussion with other organic enthusiasts, farmers, gardeners, consumers, and technologists to explore ways that technology can be used to develop an economically viable and ecologically sound Vermont food system. The workshop will be held during Workshop Session I (10:45am -12:00pm) of the NOFA Winter Conference in the Davis Center at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

In the afternoon, in our second workshop called Essential Online Tools for Farm and Food Ventures, we invite you to hear from several farmers and developers about how they have been using digital tools to promote and manage their farms and products.

Our panelists include Amanda Andrews of Tamarack Hollow Farm, who will discuss the nuts and bolts of her successful Kickstarter campaign, Eric Rozendaal of Rockville Market Farm, who will share his experiences using social media and farm-specific online tools, Suzy Hodgson, who created YourFarmStand.com in 2010, and Heather Darby, who recently developed goCrop, a web and mobile device application that helps livestock farms develop nutrient management plans for their operations.

Participate in a Food Systems Hackathon

Finally, we're excited to be co-sponsoring a Farm and Food Systems Hackathon. Many of the farm specific digital tools that are currently on the market are focused on large farm operations, which are often less useful to the small-scale farmers in Vermont. During this event, civic hackers, developers, designers and makers, organic enthusiasts, farmers and gardeners, policy makers, and researchers will develop proto-types of mobile apps, websites, and other DIY innovations specifically designed for Vermont’s food system. To participate in the event or to share your ideas, please fill out the following survey.

Together, we’re hopeful that our ongoing advising and our programming at NOFA Conference will assist Vermont farmers in their quest to become more efficient, profitable, and resilient. Helping Vermont's working landscape businesses to better leverage digital tools is a key objective of the Vermont Digital Economy Project. We hope that you will apply for these free services or attend one or all of these events.