I am curious what software people have looked at and used to manage their market garden style farms?
My sense is there is a lot of interest and effort spent in finding a solution but when it comes to the details the many of the software / apps / spreadsheets don’t quite fit well enough to make the jump and commitment to a new system.
What have people tried? What worked and what didn’t?
I am curious to hear everyone’s ideas and experience as someone who has been thinking about this stuff for a long time, I think the discussion would be really helpful.
Full disclosure, Evan Quigley and I have developed and launched VeggieCropper which is another option out there for managing everything from seed to sale.
I’ve used a combination of Google Sheets, Wave, Shopify, Squarespace, and Tend for managing our market garden.
Spreadsheets are the backbone of our financial planning (my annual cash-flow statement is something I refer to and update weekly). Additionally, I make all manner of other documents with Sheets (harvest and packing templates that are then printed and laminated and can be filled with dry-erase markets, etc.).
Shopify has been handy for selling our produce box subscriptions (basically a month-by-month CSA) online. I really like how quick it is to generate a new product and subsequently inject a “buy button” into our website by simply copying and pasting the code.
Wave is a Canadian-founded company that provides financial software for small businesses. I use it for payroll and invoicing and have had an excellent experience over the past four years. I’ve found their support staff to be particularly adept if an issue arises.
Tend is what I use for crop planning and the software I plan to use much more going forward. It is the kind of fully integrated platform I’ve dreamed of. The guts of it are powerful crop-planning tools (one can overlay a garden on a satellite image and draw out beds with exact dimensions, assign plantings and subsequent tasks including dates for greenhouse sowing, transplanting, cultivation, etc.). Additionally, they have responded to feedback from users and have developed an e-commerce platform with a robust “pick and pack” feature that generates aggregated harvest lists, and packing details for individual orders. This was something I struggled with on Shopify - without plug-ins or exporting data there was no way to aggregate total orders for individual items (ie. the total number of carrots to harvest from multiple individual orders). I feel this is a critical component for selling a-la-carte online, which seems to be what people want. The one thing lacking with Tend, which clearly bothered other users, was a visually appealing e-commerce interface. Once again they have responded to feedback and have recently offered Shopify integration to the platform. For me, this solves the complex problem of having an visually exceptional user experience (our website is with Squarespace), functional and familiar e-commerce (Shopify), combined with fully-integrated farm-planning software that allows me to sell bunches of carrots online and communicate precisely to my staff how many and where those bunches should be harvested.
I know there are plenty of other players in this arena - I’m also curious to hear what people are using.