Introducing Harvie

This is a big day at Small Farm Central. Today I introduce Harvie!

As I mentioned in last week’s CSA: We Have a Path Forward, we’ve been working on a new CSA platform that we call Harvie (no, we didn’t know they were going to name a hurricane after us, and you can donate to farmers affected by Hurricane Harvey).

Harvie is a completely new CSA software platform built from the ground up with the goal of better serving members while retaining what is special about CSA. At the same time, Harvie streamlines administration so this more customizable farm share does not drive the farmer crazy with logistics. In fact, by building best practices directly into the platform and taking the last 10+ years of experience to inform this new platform, a Harvie farm share is easier to manage than a traditional farm share.

Building something new is never a smooth ride, but I can confidently say that we achieved our goals in this pilot season with 8 farms and 500 end consumers.

One of my insights in the last few years is that to better serve our farmers, I needed to learn how to better serve the end consumer. It is the consumer who pulls out their credit card and makes a buying decision that supports our farms. So I spent lots of time with current members, ex-CSA members, and potential future CSA members as we decided how Harvie should work.

Our mid-season survey with Harvie members confirmed that we met the goal of better serving consumers, here are a few quotes from that survey:

“I think it is cool that such a small, mom-and-pop type of operation has a modern day tool for communication and organizational uses. It makes doing CSA easier and up to date and more like everything else in today's world.” -Harvie member

“I adore farm-fresh food; however sometimes with a "regular" share you get piles and piles of something you just can't stand. Harvie lets me tweak my share so food doesn't go to waste.” - Harvie member

“I liked the idea of being able to see and edit my basket's contents before pick up day. Customization reduces waste and makes menu planning more efficient. “ - Harvie member

These positive experiences will drive increased retention rates and attract more consumers in the future.

So what is Harvie?

Harvie is a software platform to manage a more complex CSA program including customized boxes, flexible box sizes and flexible weeks.

Harvie also integrates a cooking suggestion engine that we are working on with the founder of LocalThyme and the author of the From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook, Pat Mulvey, to provide recipes and cooking suggestions to members based on the contents of their customized box. 

Harvie is also a marketing and customer acquisition platform. For example affiliate and referral tools so customers and supporters can talk about your farm and get a thank you in the form of a percentage of the sale when a member they referred joins. 

In addition, I will work directly with each Harvie farm to write a customized marketing plan to meet your membership goals. We’ll have a weekly marketing call for all Harvie farms to keep on track and trade tips that have worked on other farms.

Harvie is also a vetted group of the best local farms, so we have standards for the types of farms we want to work with. This is important for the marketing and sales we will do on your behalf: we want to make sure we can confidently refer anyone in your area to join your farm with the confidence that you can grow and deliver an outstanding box each week of the season.

The requirements for being a Harvie farm are:

  • Growing 75%+ of box on your farm (Harvie is not open to aggregators, coops, or box schemes)
  • At least 100 active members, with capability to grow to 250+ members in the next 2-3 years.
  • 5+ years growing experience (CSA is too hard for beginning farmers)
  • FSMA / GAP certification suggested, but not required

The perfect farm for Harvie has production under control but struggles with marketing, sales, and retention rates. These farms have product going towards farmers markets or wholesale that could be directed towards higher margin CSA sales. We are looking for local farm leaders in each community that are ready to take their farm to the next level and grow with Harvie.

We are going much deeper with the farms we work with and to ensure that we can provide a high level of service, we are only accepting 20-30 new farms into Harvie for 2018.

Apply to Become a Harvie Farm by September 30th

We are accepting Harvie farm applications until September 30th. Please fill out this form to apply:

After applying, we’ll be in touch to schedule an initial needs assessment call. By the end of October, we want to have our farms set for 2018 so we can get to work!

Lastly, thank you for going on this journey with me over the last few years. I have leaned heavily on this mailing list for inspiration and to get feedback. It is exciting to be at the point where I have some concrete progress to show you.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email.

-Simon Huntley

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