Sisters Monique and Sabrina of Naked Cow Dairy have a lot to smile about these days. After two months of fundraising with the hope of raising enough money to buy a heater for their cheese vats and build an aging room for their future cheese production, they are just 3 hours away from success.
The pair needed to raise $15,000 so they could start producing cheese and become the first cow-milk cheese operation EVER in Hawaii. A visit to the sisters in Waianae on their last day of fundraising to watch a typical day of churning butter opened my eyes to just how much work running Oahu’s only dairy entails on a daily basis.
Of course, for the closing day of a two-month long fundraising campaign it was surprisingly quiet and seemed like business as usual on the farm. That is because using the online funding platform Indiegogo, Naked Cow Dairy should end their fundraising with $3,000 extra thanks to generous donations from the community and well planned organizing and publicity surrounding their campaign to make the first Hawaiian cheese.
Watching the tech industry mix with the local food movement is unexpected. While some start-ups are hoping to interact directly with farmers like Real Time Farms aiming to document the entire food system or Farmigo looking to create an online market for farmers to sell goods, some mainstream tech start-ups are offering impressive tools to farmers by chance.
Even as some Farm-to-Plate internet companies are finding they have to deal with farmers with a low tech-IQ, there are some farms like Naked Cow Dairy taking full advantage of the tools for marketing and fundraising available on the web.
Monique and Sabrina swear they owe their fundraiser’s online success to the help of their young tech savvy cheese chef Gida Snyder. For many farmers it is help from the younger generation that allows them to utilize the free marketing and advertising being offered online.
So just when you thought surviving as a farmer could not get any harder, now it seems keeping up with the fast pace of internet technology is necessary for today’s farms. For now only a few farms like Naked Cow Dairy are finding the web to be a good place to help their businesses thrive, but in the future not being online could spell disaster for farmers. On the bright side, many farmers seem eager to use the internet and with the array of new companies offering online services to farmers, linking America’s farmland to the web might happen sooner than expected.
Ryan Silsbee Hawaii Food Warrior Spring 2012
Check out this article and learn more about the Food Warriors at Real Time Farms.