FarmSpotting is on! Time is short. Got Ideas? Let em fly! You cannot wait until there are “perfect conditions” to start something! You can’t wait until you win the argument with the demon of “This Can’t Work” standing there on your shoulder. No matter how good your idea, you may or may not grow your bank account but you just might help grow the world into a better place. And that has value that cannot be measured by mucho dinero alone. FarmSpotting is on! Whoopty Did!
So yesterday, as is my habit, I spent my morning thinking, reading and writing and trying to orient myself for the day. I noticed that OpenTable had purchased FoodSpotting.com for a nice chunk of change. Given that I am currently pitching in to help my family’s Bloomfield Farms I wondered “Is there a ‘FarmSpotting‘ organization, product or offering out there?”
And with a bit of help from my friend Google I quickly discovered that no, unlike FoodSpotting and TrainSpotting and SpottingSpotters there really isn’t much happening in the realm of FarmSpotting. Like most ideas — aka not much is new under the sun — there has been occasional use of this term or attempts to make this (FarmSpotting) into a recognized activity. So why not try to run with this idea create a FarmSpotting movement that allows people to discover and experience the richness of farms in their local area? Why not have a tool that allows people to hit the road on a weekend to find that one special farm or series of farms and ranches that will deliver an experience of a lifetime to the entire family?
At Bloomfield Farms (my family’s farm) we have a seasonal farm adventure called UPick Sunday. This experience has been so enriching for countless families who are able to learn about and harvest their own produce, together! Could FarmSpotting help our farm attract more people to our UPick Sunday events? Heck yeh!
As an entrepreneur and thinker and creator of projects [ perhaps more projects than are healthy ] I truly believe that if you have an idea it is important to not let it languish in the “internal swamp of you” which the area of individual terrain between your ears. You must get it (your idea) out there somehow and make it a reality, even if it’s just on paper shared with one of your other personalities If you don’t do this you will have regrets that pile up in journals and get lost on old flash drives shaped like monkeys or crosses or something. “Letting it fly” isn’t always the way to go with your ideas but in my experience it is a solid option when you have a great idea but not a huge amount of time or money or all of the necessary skills to make it happen alone.
This is the route I chose when I launched Burning Hawk Wines brand some years ago. I jerry-rigged a traced hawk label onto an empty wine bottle and showed it to some people and pretty soon, within 9 weeks Burning Hawk wines was launched with the help of amazingly supportive leaders in the wine industry and wildlife conservation arena. This project ended up making a positive difference and raising money for wildlife conservation projects for over 2 years. It didn’t fly forever and I had to clip the wings but that’s how it goes sometimes. But the lesson I learned was “Got an idea. Well move on it. Don’t wait. Go.”
What Will FarmSpotting Be?
Here’s the deal…If your idea is good — even if it’s just a vague sketch of an idea — you will likely get a few people to acknowledge your idea and hopefully they’ll provide some encouragement or positive feedback. (Note: Even if it’s not good or needs work you will hopefully receive feedback that can help you make it better.)
And that’s what happened with FarmSpotting vision yesterday. I sent my friends at Twisted Horn Ranch a quick email. Kristine at Twisted Horn Ranch is in agriculture and she also understands the world of business and technology. I also reached out to Facebook friends and leaders at companies such as Farmigo. I shared with them my vision of a “FarmSpotting” movement which would allow adventurous Locavores and people interested in where their food comes from to plan adventures to visit farms open to the public and to share and exchange content and stories associated with the visit such as pictes, recipes etc…They were so gracious as to respond and pitch in with motivational perspective and ideas they feel comfortable sharing. I am always so grateful for people like this who lend a supportive hand. Those are always the sort of people who I want “to be on the team.” So receiving instant email back with feedback affirming the value of this idea was AWESOME (Thanks K! Thanks B. You know who you are).
Also, if you are a married like me never under estimate the “Power of Spouse.” Every time I have a crazy idea or a potentially risky writing project I always run it by my wife to get a bit of feedback. She has always been instrumental in making sure I don’t shoot myself in the foot with a paintball gun or get myself into a frustrating bind. And when I ran FarmSpotting by my wife she thought it was a worthy idea that should be explored and pushed forward a bit. (FYI I love you my “Wifey!!!” Thank you for always being there for me and letting me do my thing which, I recognize, can present challenges at times.)
Where’s the Momentum?
So then what happened next? Well, it’s important when getting something off the ground to secure your real estate (online or elsewhere). This is the least expensive and easiest route to getting a start and building momentum. And it starts with a domain name. In my case then I called my “GoDaddy” and he mentioned that no one owns the domain name www.farmspotting.com and related variants so being the domain name addict I am a small purchase was made to bring that domain name into my collection of fun-to-talk-about-but-rarely-realized visions, fantasies, entrepreneurial projects. Yes, if there was an AA group for Domain-A-Holics I would likely be chapter president for my region of dream world. And this week I would be presenting my ideas for http://www.farmspotting.com after saying “Hello! My Name Is Nick And I Am Addicted To Domain Names & I Believe In The Power of Creativity and Ideas!”"
The next step is creating the various places online such as Twitter and Facebook where the community will be built and inspired. And when it comes to the popular notion of BRAND, I tend to think of brands as communities. So I tried to think of the quickest way to get a bit of momentum and start the FarmSpotting Movement. And for me the answer was creating a Facebook Group and a Twitter handle for FarmSpotting. And within hours we had a few farms and ranches listed and we had people interacting to say “Yes. Good Idea!”
It Takes A Village to Raise an Idea
How will FarmSpotting evolve and come to fruition? My take is that some ideas are best kept within and that months of slow, solitary, private research are needed to “launch” an organization or company or movement or whatever. But sometimes, and this is the case with FarmSpotting, where the power of the idea is in the power of community, it will take a village to raise an idea. Especially if there’s not a ton of available time, resources or capital to start. Moreover it’s important to be open and transparent and allow for the forces of friendliness, goodwill and talent to combine to raise the idea from a vague vision into a reality that makes a difference…..and makes a difference fairly rapidly. I truly believe this and look forward to witnessing what happens with the FarmSpotting idea.
The Power of Collaboration & Listening
So what will come next with FarmSpotting? Well, I’ll likely spend some time on Facebook highlighting local farms in our area and others even those that grow some of the same crops as we do (we can talk about this philosophy later.) Also, I’ll reach out to a few friends and colleagues with various skills and backgrounds to try to hone in on “What, exactly should FarmSpotting become?” And hopefully a few people (that I trust) with diverse skills and resources will sign on to collaborate. And when that happens we will develop simple agreements that document clarify the relationship so no one ends up feeling burned down the road. I know one thing. This is not an idea that I can do alone. I am too busy and don’t have the skills or resources to do this alone, nor do I want to.
But most importantly I feel it is important to spend time LISTENING to the people you are trying to serve and inspire. I’ll run this vision by the owners of farms and ranches and hard working food creators I know to hear their thoughts and needs. After all my goal is that this movement benefits the local farms such as Bloomfield Farms and Twisted Horn Ranch in our area as well as potentially around the world. I’ll also LISTEN to to the individual EATERS and consumers who have a different vision for how they interact with the food system, feed their families and experience all that farms and ranches have to offer in terms of experience and entertainment.LISTENING IS CRITICAL!!!
Where Next for FarmSpotting?
Honestly, I have no freaking clue. It is sometimes scary to have no clue. But this is the life of anyone who constantly leans forward into the future trying to create value and create a better life. I’ve got a lot going on as a writer, thinker and GM of my family’s farm so I am a bit hesitant to launch into yet another project. However certain ideas or thoughts require action in imperfect conditions and I think, for various reasons, this FoodSpotting idea is one to move forward with a bit. What excites me about this idea is helping my family’s farm “Make it” in a very tough and expensive business climate and further connect us with PEOPLE WHO EAT who see (or need to see) all of the value and richness (beyond mere food products) that farms can offer to families, schools, children and communities. Basically, without viable farming we do not have viable, workable and sustainable communities. Without local farms we are hosed. So hopefully with projects such as FarmSpotting there will be some value created that helps secure and sustain local farms as key pillars of healthy communities. Crazier things have happened.
Onward! Onward and Whoopty Did! to the creation of visions and communities and projects that make a difference. I will keep you posted on how FarmSpotting unfolds as comments to this post here at Whoopty Did. No matter what happens next I am convinced that something good has already happened by sharing the idea.
My aspiration and vision for FarmSpotting is that local farms and creative, hardworking farmers are better able to share their gifts with people and communities. And on the flip-side that people are fed, inspired, educated and entertained leading to healthier and richer lives, families and communities. And because of this dynamic system of Foodlyness our lands are better stewarded and cared for. Giddyup.
If you have interest in the FarmSpotting idea feel free to send an email to nick_p [at] sonic.net or get involved at our FarmSpotting facebook page