Sunday, August 25, 2013

AirBnB for farmers and eaters

This is a post that's been sitting around in my draft box for about a year. It's not doing any good there, so I'm publishing it as is. Does anyone know if a thing like I describe exists?

- Mjumbe

Here's an idea: AirBnB for CSA farmers (and patrons).  For short, let's give it a Web2.0 name like "" (someone come up with a better name).

Someone should capitalize on this.  Think about it, everyone needs to eat!

I haven't been a host on AirBnB for long [I'm not any longer, but was for about a year], but here are some of the things that I enjoy about the system, from both host and guest perspectives (we'll call the analogs on farmers and eaters):
  • Handle the money - Make sure that it is as painless as possible to get money from the eater to the farmer.  Farmers should be able to focus on farming and eaters should be able to focus on eating.  I don't think farmers get into farming because they like dealing with credit card companies.
  • Don't be greedy - Charge only a small surcharge for farmers.  They're doing the work and it's important that they feel they're getting most of the benefit.
  • Allow bidirectional reviews - In a peer-to-peer network, it's important that not only the eater has a good experience with the farmer, but also vice versa.  Make sure your farmers feel like they're protected against entering into relationships with bad eaters.
  • Focus on the customer service - The success of the site will depend on the how well it facilitates interaction between eaters and farmers.  It should remove as many barriers as possible between an eater finding, getting information about, and contacting a farmer.
And, some things that I wish AirBnB had that should (ideally):
  • Let the farmers access their data ... ALL OF IT -- Farmers should have access to simple analytical views on all of their sales data, and be able to get a dump of it all if they want to do their own analysis.
I don't know enough about CSAs (yet) to come up with a complete list of requirements, but here's a start:
  • Farmers should be able to create a profile for their farm where they can post...
    •  pictures
    • a schedule
    • the food they grow/harvest
    • the buy-in they're asking (price)
    • details about how they operate (again, I don't know much, but there's some info under "Variations" at
  • Eaters should be able to find farms that are located near them, or that drop off near them
  • Eaters should be able to leave reviews and ratings of farmers (but only farmers they've received food from), and farmers should be able to rate eaters (but only those that have received their food)
  • Eaters should be able to select (shop for) food from a given farm through the site
Who is the target market:
  • People new to CSAs.  For them, there should be plenty of informational material on how it all works.
  • People who have used CSAs, but are moving to a different area or city.  These people will probably want to keep using CSAs, and need to find one to patronize.
I don't know if one could tell beforehand which of those two groups would be the primary market for the site.