Virtual local?

Phone company technician at work on a junction box

This morning, there was a phone company tech at work on the junction box at the top of the drive into the farm. I’m not sure what the guy and his logo-truck were up to exactly, but the picture made me think about tiny farming and the Web. Right now, Bell and an independent telecom company are in an extravagant, introductory-offer battle for subscribers to the newly available DSL broadband service. High speed Internet access has been in this area for years, in towns and even villages, but dial-up was the only easy, painfully slow connection for most farms (we’re on the edge of a village, so we’ve had cable modem all the while). Now, word-of-mouth is that people on farms are signing up for DSL—will more abundant web access mean more interest in having a web presence? This could be interesting because, out of 30+ vendors at the farmers’ market, I think this farm is still the only one with a web site. An odd situation, considering that online is really the only practical place for small producers to let people know what they’re up to. With the novelty of DSL, maybe more farms will finally get around to getting online, which is probably a good thing, because it takes more than a few people to make a local market thrive. Just as Tiny Farm Blog has rapidly become embedded in my farming life (BTW, TFB isn’t the farm site), maybe this technology, where you sit in front of a screen and TYPE, is what it takes these days to hook people up in the communities where they actually live… I suspect, in some ways, to at least some people, you’re not all that REAL if you’re not represented online… Even if you’re practically next door! A little weird, but whatever works!

7 thoughts on “Virtual local?”

  1. A sad but true observation I feel.

    This article popped up on the BBC website today

    This wonderful new initiative will mean that the children will get between 6 and 8 hours in total! Hardly enough time I feel to teach them anything about cooking real food. My own children were taught how to make toast in a toaster and a cup of instant coffee. Thankfully they have always cooked real food at home.

    The government wonders why there is an obesity problem with children buying junk food/take-aways and microwave meals. Earlier studies have shown that the majority of children have no idea where food comes from either. Milk comes from a plastic bottle in the supermarket, not a cow and as for fruit and vegetables, they just materialise on those shrink wrapped plastic trays.

    So maybe some of those schools could log on and show the farms on the Internet to the children

    Sadly your last comment might be right, virtual living. At least you don’t get your hands dirty or heaven forbid, ruin your acrylic nails and designer wear :-D

  2. I know what you mean about finding local people via the web. I met a fellow plot holder and blogger that way. We live a few hundred yards from each other and it turns out we went to the same school, though we now live in a town 80 miles from there. How come we didn’t meet in the street or at the local shop?

    I know people at work who’ll e-mail someone from the other side of the room. Why don’t they just get up and TALK!

    Funny old world eh!

    At least we’re a few thousand miles away…

  3. I think anyone looking to have a sustainable farm has to be in full swing with the internet. Scalability is a huge part of survival for a business especially a farm. Until a few years ago, word of mouth was about all you could do to market your goods but now the internet allows word of mouth to spread like wild fire with a click of a mouse in an email box.

    Personally, we would like to only serve our local community, that being within 100 miles of us. This way we can promote local markets in all areas and aren’t taking away from another small farms potential customers. Luckily, we are reasonable distances from Houston, Austin, Waco, College Station, and San Antonio. People are wanting more and more to know where their food comes from and showing that on the web, through pictures, blogs, and offering farm tours is a great way to accomplish this. Hopefully the internet will simply start the process to having potential customers actually show up in person so that relationships and education can be established.

  4. i think it is the younger generation that is so reliant on the web. I have our farm site 3/4s of the way built and we don’t even get to our farm till next month, but my cousins who have farmed the family farm fro decades still don’t have a website up. Personally, I wouldn’t dream of starting a farm with out a website.

  5. The world is certainly getting smaller with the Internet. A decade ago there were hardly any businesses havingtheir space online. Within no time major brands began competing for online visibility with smaller, lesser known businesses. The Internet has made our work easier though with advertising and opinion-sharing getting accomplished with minimum finances and time involved. Through my online trees
    I can reach out to so many people looking to buy
    from the comfort of their own home. It’s simply amazing!

  6. One thing for sure, once you go to DSL you will never want to go back to a dialup connection. It’s just like getting a newer, faster computer, you never want to go back to your old computer. You will certainly notice the speed difference.

    At the same time, you probably won’t be able to do a lot of new things you can’t do now, and you may as well wait until the price is right. If I was in your place, I would also choose the slowest, cheapest service, as it will be a whole lot faster than what you have now anyway.


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