We're leveraging technology to connect communities with their local farmers by building free tools for farmers that make purchasing easy for consumers.
CSAs are awesome, and we believe that community really should support agriculture, because agriculture really does support community if you do it right.
We also believe that technology is amazing and farmers paying fees to credit card companies and banks is dumb, so we figured out how to lower those fees as much as possible and build all of this technology as lean and efficiently as we could.
We add a transparent, less-than-sales-tax-would-be-if-you-paid-sales-tax-on-food fee to each order paid for by the community that covers all transaction costs for the farmer and costs for us to run the platform.
We never charge a setup or subscription fee to the farmer or the customer and you’ll never have to make yet another a dumb account to see what food is available.
We won’t make any money until farms all over the U.S. are successfully connected to their communities…and we’re great with that.
Ok...how much do farms get paid?
So get this…let’s say a farm charges $100 for their Spring CSA.
Someone buys that CSA share on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, $100 shows up in the farmer’s bank account.
Wait, why are you doing it like this?
While we really wish that people’s propensity to “do the right thing” was enough, the fact is we don’t have to compromise between doing the right thing and creating the best tools.
People have great hearts…but they’re also busy…we get it! That’s why laef must be as easy to use as any of your other favorite websites or apps.
We’re basically just tired of farmers feeling pressured into being marketing and ecommerce experts while our friends and neighbors keep saying, “Oh wow, I didn’t even know people grew food here.”
Who and what is on laef?
People who want to meet and feed the people around them…who want to heal the earth…who just want to do some honest work in the dirt —not perpetually in front of a computer screen.
In addition to food, you’ll also find some incredible flowers here too. Some of those are probably edible, but really they are here because they are an integral part of pollination and soil regeneration. They also make your friends and neighbors smile when you surprise them.
Local crafts are amazing, but we don’t want to distract from our mission to help people feed people in their community. Perhaps in the future we’ll build a place to sell these things too.
Does laef force farms into a delivery model?
No…and not the “not yet” kind of no…the on purpose kind of no.
Here are a few of our favorite reasons why:
This is an overhead nightmare for many small farms and is the main source of cost for other platforms that charge farmers up to 10% of sales on top of an additional 3% for processing credit cards. Last time we checked, that was most of the margin in farming.
Our favorite farmers are doing this to be a part of their community. We’re here to play matchmaker, not middleman. “Solutions” that stand between farmer and community furthers many of the same problems that got our food systems into this centralized mess.
Local food means eating more of what grows where you live…when it is in season. Tomatoes are amazing, but when you figure out what a lemon cumber is, it’s going to blow your mind.
Forcing all farms to deliver means pressuring them to price compete. If there are two amazing farms—one north of town and one south of town—they’ll naturally connect with the portion of the community closest to them. We love that. If people are price comparison shopping on eggs to be delivered…they probably aren’t a good fit for us, and we’re not afraid to “fire” some customers.
Now, we’re not anti-delivery. Some of our favorite farms totally deliver, and we love it.
We leave it up to the farm to organize what works best in their community and will totally provide all the tools to support whatever their model is because we believe that farmer and community know best.
You said tools. What tools do you provide?
We’re constantly growing and adapting our suite of tools to meet the needs of each farm we onboard, but we’ve got a pretty amazing start:
Local Food Marketplace
You’re here right now. We’ll build you a farm page on our site for free, and help you list your first products. We also make it easy to manage products, inventory, pickup locations, pickup windows, cut-off times etc.
The site has CSA management tools too. We can help you automate paperwork, weekly holds, customer email lists and more. If you have a need we haven’t thought of yet, we’d love to create that too…for free.
Payment App (with card reader)
We’ve worked a booth at the farmers’ market before and well…about the 6th time you try to swipe someone’s scratched up credit card through that tiny piece of plastic connected to the headphone jack of your old iPhone 4…it gets pretty embarrassing. That 10 seconds waiting for the transaction to clear might as well be an eternity as you watch people slowly back away from your ever increasing line.
So…we built our own app that works with our own card readers too. They (reliably) connect wirelessly over bluetooth, process transactions in a tenth of a second, and support both chip reading and contactless pay (yay, covid). To be honest the card readers are kind of expensive, but we’ll give you one of them for free too so long as you keep using it because we’re a little crazy like that
Where is this going?
We want small farming to be a real, viable way of life again. This is America. You’re supposed to be able to get fed up with the man, run off into the country, and build yourself a life on a piece of land. Honestly, there are a ton of people who’d love to support you in that endeavor as well…you just need to meet them. That’s where we come in.
Who are you people?
We’re a bunch of nerds who really, really love local food…because we love local people. Some of us grew up on farms and are from towns you’ll never hear of. We’ve got friends and relatives who are chefs, farmers and hobby gardeners.
Turns out we’re also amazing programmers and marketing buffs who’ve enjoyed success at what we’ve done professionally. It’s time we used these skills for the forces of good and tried to change the world one farm at a time.
Okay. I'm a farmer. How do I sign up?
That’s what I’m talking about! You can fill out this form, email us here, or if you’re old school (it’s cool some of our favorite people are) you can call or text us at 574.596.4566. We’re so excited to meet you!
I'm not a farmer, but I read this anyway and I want to help...how do I do that?
Right? We love you already and would love to meet you too.
If you live in the US and know some small farms that should be on laef, please introduce us!
If you don’t know any small farms but would like to meet some, let’s connect anyway! We can probably help plug you into your local food scene where you can work locally to help make a difference.
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