The Interview Process

You’ve probably begun to notice, but an overarching theme in entrepreneurship is customer development, more specifically what we’ve dubbed GOOBing or Getting Out of the Building. The purpose being to listen to what people have to say about their problems and how they currently go about solving them. The best way to do this: face-to-face interviews.

After we identified our two target customer segments of beginning gardeners and experienced gardeners, we decided it was time to get GOOBin’. We set out to venture to places where we would find a mix of both starting- out gardeners and the more experienced. Over the course of a few weeks the team got out to multiple Farmer’s Markets in and around SLO, various nurseries and DIY stores (i.e. Miner’s Ace), and reached out to gardeners of SLO’s very own community gardens. We made connections with many active gardeners in our community including a network of Master Gardeners with whom we were able to talk with on multiple occasions.  Continue reading The Interview Process

Meet Kat and Kevin, OpenFarm’s Community Developers

OpenFarm is excited to bring aboard two Community Developers: Kat Ying and Kevin Bertolero. Kat and Kevin will focus on developing OpenFarm’s community in all respects: on the OpenFarm site, on social media platforms, and in their respective local communities and professional networks. Their goals and responsibilities are many, but here is a highlight of a few of them:

  • Build relationships between OpenFarm and other organizations and individuals in the context of content creation, organizational capacity building, fundraising, and development resources
  • Maintain and spark positive discussion about OpenFarm around the web
  • Build feedback loops between users of OpenFarm and the organization to inform our development team of where to go next
  • Host in-person content creation and site feedback meetups to strengthen local community around OpenFarm and bolster the site’s content

Continue reading Meet Kat and Kevin, OpenFarm’s Community Developers

Customer Development

Cal Poly Senior Project team here:

When we started our journey with OpenFarm we first asked ourselves, “What is our customer segment?”, “Who are we bringing this product to, and why is this website valuable to them?’”

We followed up this question by sending out a survey to all members of the Kickstarter campaign to try and see who supported the idea and identify characteristics of that culture.   We asked many questions, such as “What about OpenFarm are you most excited about?” and “Would you be available for a followup interview?”, both of which we got fantastic answers for from the over 400 respondents! Yet, of all the information we gathered from this survey, we found the most significant pieces of information on these two graphs. (click them to enlarge) Continue reading Customer Development

OpenFarm Dev Update #2

We’ve seen some amazing progress on OpenFarm – as a community, as an organization, and as a software product. We’ve been iterating over the software that powers the website and releasing updates weekly – almost bi-weekly – for the past few months, which saw a sort of culmination with our launch last week. A couple of short hours after the launch e-mail, the bugs and feature requests started trickling in. We’ve already updated the site a couple of times since the 18th, most recently half an hour ago.

Since the last time we posted a development update (November 29th), here’s what’s new on the site:

Continue reading OpenFarm Dev Update #2

Cal Poly Senior Project Team

Hello everyone!

This is the Entrepreneurship Senior Project Team from Cal Poly.  Our team in Fall quarter was comprised of four individuals: Christian Renfro, Emily Plummer, Jake Wing, and Ally Woods.  We joined the OpenFarm team in September and have had an awesome journey with such a fantastic and positive group of people.  When we first met Rory he presented us with the main question:  “How do we keep the lights on for OpenFarm?” “What is a sustainable revenue model that works with the culture we are trying to create?”  It was with this question that we realized we had a lot of learning to do.  About gardening, OpenFarm, the people who value it and the culture that we are trying to foster through being open source.

There are a few things we do as Entrepreneurs at Cal Poly, from Identifying our “Customer Segment” and “Value Propositions” to identifying a scalable revenue stream, and so on.  Essentially all aspects of a startup merge into something we call the business model canvas- what we were on a mission to define. Here is an example:


So, 3, 2, 1, and we’re off!  But.. where do we start?  Well, we had to take 2 steps back in order to take any steps forward as a team.  So we started working on the basics. Continue reading Cal Poly Senior Project Team

Life Stage Icons

OpenFarm’s Growing Guides are structured stories describing how to grow a Crop based on specific environmental conditions and growing practices. On a high level, the Guide is broken down into Life Stages  – specific periods of the plant’s life where different actions are required. For example, during the Fruiting Life Stage, one might recommend to prune specific parts of the plant.

When a user creates a Growing Guide, they are asked to specify which Life Stages they would like to include. We wanted a fun and easy to understand interface for users to select these stages, leading us to a design with large, selectable icons that symbolize the Life Stages. A friend of the OpenFarm team, Claire Dierksen, has graciously designed some awesome icons for us. Check them out by creating a Guide!

Screenshot 2015-01-20 at 10.33.10 AM

Introducing OpenFarm – You Can Grow Anything


Introducing OpenFarm, a place where you can learn to farm or garden with community created Guides. After months of hard work from our volunteer team, we’re excited to show you what we’ve built! Today, January 18th, 2015, marks OpenFarm’s launch. Visit OpenFarm to contribute knowledge, explore, and learn!

Share your knowledge, create a Guide

Now, more than ever, OpenFarm needs you to share your knowledge by creating Growing Guides – structured stories describing how you grow a Crop based on your environmental conditions and favorite growing practices. Get started (requires an OpenFarm account)

Get Involved

OpenFarm is being developed by a group of software developers, business minds, designers, and community developers from all over the world. Want to get involved? Email or check out our code on GitHub.

A Special Thank You

Thank you to all of our Kickstarter backers! Without your early and continued support we would not be where we are today. Thank you for believing in our team and taking part in building a sustainable future. Cheers to the next chapter of OpenFarm!

1,000 Commits

OpenFarm’s sofware is being written very rapidly by a dedicated team of software developers from around the world. The process of collaboration is quite interesting for those who are unfamiliar with modern software development. Here is the gist of how it works:

Our software is stored in a ‘repository’ with a service called GitHub; a repository is just a technical name for a folder – a place where you store files. Using GitHub is free for us because our software is open-source; you can see OpenFarm’s repository here. The repository holds the ‘master’ version of the software, as well as all of its history. When someone wants to change the software, add a feature, or fix a bug, they ‘fork’ the software into their personal GitHub account, which means they make a copy of it. The software developer then makes their changes on their own version and then ‘commits’ those changes – in other words, the save the changes. Then they send in a ‘Pull Request’ to the master version. Someone looks over the changes, and if they are good, the changes are ‘pulled’ into the master version. In other words, the modified version is merged with the master, which allows others to then build off of the more updated master version, and so the process repeats. Continue reading 1,000 Commits

Search Results and Crop Pages Design

The design of Search Results and Crop pages on OpenFarm has changed a lot in the last 6 months. In this blog post we’re going to show you all of the different mockups we have gone through in order to get to the current design.

April, 2014

These mockups were created very early in our journey of figuring out how OpenFarm would function. We we’re mostly focused on how best to lead the user from the homepage to relevant content suited for them. We went with a categorical approach for search results, along with filter bars similar to those found on sites like Amazon and All Recipes. Upon finding a more specific plant to grow, the user would be taken to the Crop Page, where they could then use more filters to find the right Growing Instructions for them. An important difference from here to now is that the Crop is rated with the user for compatibility, whereas today the Guide is rated for compatibility.

Search April

Crop April
Continue reading Search Results and Crop Pages Design