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Learning About What Our Farm Can Become and How We Are Innovating

Simply Us Farm has been a giant sketch and prototype from the beginning. I like to think of the farm as a sketch and a prototype where the lines are drawn with a tractor and the trees and bushes are dots on the sketch. We are still learning what our farm can become. Join us as I walk you through the class I just completed on innovation.

First let me share what I learned by taking the IDEO Insights for Innovation class

Join me as we discover together what I learned about the farm from observing potential customers, interviews and pulling those insights together into meaningful statements that can help guide the plan for Simply Us Farm.

First we created a challenge. The challenge guides the project.

How might we create experiences and farm products for potential customers that appeal to their desire for healthy foods from local farms who create nutrient rich goods with sustainable practices?

One really important thought

It is important to note that this class wasn’t about marketing to the customer or confirming a pre-existing solution will sell. Instead we focused on understanding the customer, developing empathy and most important – inspired by the customer.

Here are some of my insights from the project

1) Better food oriented customers want something that can be integrated into their lifestyle, which requires a convenient location for regular and ongoing touch points or purchases. Since the farm is in a remote location, I called this the tyranny of distance

A remote location is ok for less frequent interactions or purchases where the interaction becomes a day trip, especially with family, a common understanding is the concept of the roadside vegetable stand. How the buying and interaction patterns with the farm and customers are really part of a pattern of life for the customer.

2) Better food oriented customers are looking for more healthy options, but may not be able to articulate or even realize all of the options they want or might want

3) The concept of rent-a-tree / rent-a-bush isn’t something most of the people we interviewed have ever heard of. There were several concerns about risks associated with just having the production of one plant and what happens if someone picks off the wrong plant (intentionally or accidentally).

4) Many people seeking out healthier foods also want a deeper connection with the farm where their food is grown. This connection gives them confidence that there food is raised in a smart way that results in healthier food for them. The desire to have these roots is important to many customers. Something as simple as watching smiling customers interact with farmers at the farmers market highlights that desire for a deeper connection that results in a healthier food and lifestyle choices.

What was surprising, challenging, or easy about the process of crafting insights?

Having a consistent and structured approach that keeps digging in to ask why, reveals a lot about how the customer thinks. The process of asking why, why, why, why, why is quicker at revealing results than I thought it would be. The process of asking 5 whys revealed answers that sometimes surprised the wonderful people that I interacted with during the project.

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Why You Probably Aren’t Planting a Garden / You Can Farm

What Can You Do

This year has been a challenging year when it comes to supply chain issues and inflation. The rising price of gas and food has impacted all of us at some level. People with the least disposable income getting hurt the worst. At some point, rising food prices will lead to political instability and riots. Rising food prices were what caused the Arab Spring riots. Americans are no less susceptible to the effects of rising food and fuel costs.

Here are some ways to fight back against the rising cost of food

  • Plant a garden and start farming your own food.
  • Plant a food forest in your yard
  • Don’t have a place to plant a garden, then create a container garden on your porch
  • Find someone with land that no longer has a garden (possibly aged out) and offer to plant a garden on their land and share the harvest with them. This arrangement is very doable, you just have to ask around
  • Develop your own local food supply chain. Find farmers that you can buy from directly off their farm. Don’t wait for them to bring it to you at the farmers market. Develop a relationship with them
  • Find a local farmer that needs labor. They would probably be happy to trade produce for labor. You could go work for them on a regular basis, maybe every other Saturday. This could be a real win-win. Its also a great way to learn about farming

These are doable action items. Don’t let excuses hold you back!

audentes Fortuna iuvat – Fortune favors the Bold