Modern technology has really changed the opportunities for farmers. For example, prior to the mid 90's before most people had internet in their homes, our farm in Vernon, UT (remote location) would have struggled to find customers. As we were getting started, we did lots of research and talked to many farms across the country. In the past few years, we have have found and been able to get advice from farmers in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont. Every one of these farms we found through online searches. The information we were able to glean from our conversations with these farmers helped us get off to a good start. Conversely, the vast majority of our customers have found us via the internet. In addition, we have had many phone calls from other beginning farmers call and ask a slew of the same questions we had when we started.
We are grateful for organizations online like Utah's Own, CSA Utah, LocalHarvest.org, American Berkshire Association, and APPPA. These have really helped us get our name out and be easily accessible to our customers.
It is fun to think about some of the modern technology that allows small, rurally located businesses to operate. Think of the looks you would have received if you had mentioned some of our common marketing tools to a person 20 year ago. Tools such as blogs, Facebook, PayPal, iPhone, email and so forth. The iPhone is one of my favorites, from it I can send and receive texts, emails, post pics and video to facebook, update this blog, accept PayPal payments, transfer funds from one bank account to another, use GPS to find an address in a rural area, call customers and suppliers and so forth. It is a wonderful tool that helps increase our efficiency. When we run our errands, Hollie will often utilize the time while I am driving to reply to emails or call and place orders with vendors.
Our blog and website feature tools that allow us to see which pages are accessed most often. We can even see the key words somebody searched to find our website/blog. The other day I was reviewing this data when my eye caught the search words, "christian christiansen pig". I couldn't help but wonder if they thought I was a pig and were searching to see if anybody else thought the same and happened to have a website about it or if they were simply trying to find out about our delicious Berkshire pork. : ) Hopefully the latter.
Although we are a local operation, buy all of our inputs locally, and sell all of our products locally, it is all possible through our modern technology. Without it, we would not exist or at least it would have taken years to reach the point we are at. So if you happen to drive by and see a farmer perched up on his tractor out in the field with this thumbs busily hammering out an email, know that you are witnessing the Modern Farmer.