Co-Op Website

Organizing a group of people in a single field is tough enough.  Kinda like herding cats.  Organizing the group spread across the county makes those cats look easy.  The internet is a handy tool.  We can post announcements, keep track of progress, make public our intentions and talk about every subject under the sun.  Our own website is an important part of maintaining cohesion.  Farmwhisperer.com costs me something like 80 bucks a year.  I pay it once a year so I forget the exact amount.  I spend several times that on seeds each year.  For a Co-op, it's a nominal expense.  Setting up a website takes little time and all those young people know how to do that sort of thing.  I don't even have one of those phones people stare at all day.

We would want a Public Section.  This allows us to make announcements, keep the world up to date on the Cans For College project, and explain how to get involved.  A Calendar presents the classes and workshops being held, what crops are coming in, and what's going on.  Using social networks, everyone involved can share the information with the whole world over social networks such as facebook and Tsu.  For the food service operation, we can offer daily menus, advertise specials, promote our products, even take orders and payments.

We would want a Private Section.  Members can enter their password to gain access.  Work station openings are posted, sharecroppers can sign up to fill those postings.  We can make announcements ("The Truck Is Fixed") the group needs to know about that the world would find uninteresting.  Putting up homework assignments is possible: "we need to find a supplier of organic apples" or "we need a solution for fencing the back field".  

An important part of the private section would be accountability.  Everyone wants to know how much money did we make today, along with total income, expenses, profit, and hours to date.  I guarantee people will look at this section every single day and scream bloody murder if updates are delayed!  This is a pefect place to post expenses which we can control, and link to ways to reduce those expenses.

We can include daily motivational items.  Quotes, photos, tales from the heart meant to inspire, encourage, and motivate.  

A forum would be invaluable.  Some topics could be public, some private.  We can receive feedback from customers, good and bad.  We can discuss each project down to the tiniest detail, with everyone offering their thoughts and ideas to improve operations.  Since we are all in the same area, local subjects could be discussed.
    "Can we cut back on the fennel in the italian sausage?"  
    "Should we build a fence around the north field?"
    "My neighbor says we can take his spoiled hay but we have to get it this week or he's gonna burn it."
    "Bloodmobile, Saturday in front of the Library"
    
Members would have the chance to put together their own blog, with contact information, photos, stories, and perhaps items for sale.

The Buyers Group would benefit greatly from a website.  Customers can review products, order, and pay all in one place from the comfort of home.  Back at the home office we have a complete list of who ordered what, as well as the total volume we need of each item to fill all the orders.  With the items already paid for, we've got the cash to purchase whatever volume required.   If there is a problem with buying the volume we need, we'll know before people show up and can send them a message.

 

Cooperative Enterprise, Plan Outline