Over the past year we’ve been working on a web-based project for a man who doesn’t have a personal email address and never uses the internet: our friend and farmer, Ray Bradley. Since leaving his career as a chef for farming more than 10 years ago, Ray has been profiled by everyone from enthusiastic bloggers to the New York Times (it’s frequently mentioned that he’s a childhood friend and former sous chef of David Bouley). But even with great press and a longtime, loyal community of supporters, farming is a tough gig. Ray can use all the help he can get to build his customer base and sell all the delicious produce and products he raises and then treks from New Paltz to NYC twice a week.
We began collaborating almost a year ago with Ray’s girlfriend, Iris Kimberg (who happens to be a bit of a marketing maven), to promote Bradley Farm. Starting with a coming soon site and some good old mailing list sign-up sheets at the market, we collected emails addresses and began sending a weekly newsletter. Over the past 6 months the audience has grown to nearly 500 green market customers who are receiving notice of what’s coming to market and the occasional recipe, photo, or story from the farm. Ray is delighted with the positive response to the emails and when people show up at the farm stand telling him how much they were looking forward to those strawberries or how much they loved the photos of the chicken coop, it makes everyone feel more connected.
Last month we launched RayBradleyFarm.com, a WordPress site with info about Bradley Farm and a blog that hosts both news and press. The annual farm festival is coming up and we’re experimenting with selling tickets and fundraiser raffles online and will soon be taking pre-orders for Bradley Farm pork. All of our marketing efforts have been a work in progress and the website and its content will continue to evolve as the farm and its offerings also evolve with each season. We’ve talked about setting Ray up with a computer he can check emails on from the farm, and although he’s interested, he’s in no hurry to make that leap. In the meantime, he relays the weeks’ bounty to Iris who emails it to his customers.
This was a great summer for Bradley Farm’s famous heirloom tomatoes, so we can’t take too much credit for bringing people back week after week, but we do feel a bit proud when we show up at a crowded market stall each Saturday. it’s been a rewarding experience for us to utilize new media tools to help educate people about their food and the man who works to grow it. For more info, visit RayBradleyFarm.com.