Getting Started: Plant Your Crops in Black Dirt

Black Dirt Software is incredibly smart. Once it’s set up, your CSA/small farm operation canvery nearly run itself, freeing you to invest your time in other moreimportant, more profitable things.

Within Module One, your CROP PLANNING tools are without doubt the most robust feature, which is why we refer to it as the crops module. There are CROP PLANNING tools to help you record,remember, and manage what you’ve planted, when you planted them, where they were planted, when you harvested them, and how much you harvested. Thesetools will also use this data to help you plan your crop rotations, manageyour tray starts, and plan future harvests. Of course, these particulartools aren’t in and of themselves entirely new. But we’ve made them free,which is something new. If these tools are all you choose to take from BlackDirt, they alone can save you thousands of dollars a year in software costs and improved efficiencies.

But just like the crops you grow, you can only harvest what you plant. So let’s get you started:

Plants

First, we need to know what you grow.

1. Under ADMIN, go to PLANTS.

2. Select the plants you grow and the page automatically saves them to your farm.

Gardens

Second, we need to know how your gardens are set up.

3. Under ADMIN, go to GARDENS.

4. Name your gardens—we recommend numbers—but you can name them however you like. For each garden, enter how many rows you have.

Crops

Finally, we need to know how your farm is set up.

5. Under CROPS, go to PLANTS IN GARDEN.

6. Pick a plant, tell us when you planted it, where you planted it, and how muchyou planted. Then click SAVE. Like that, you’ve entered your first plant.

7. Do this for all the plants you grow.

Once you’ve done this, go to CROPS and DASHBOARD. You can already see Black Dirt Software starting to work. Over time, and as more data is entered, the software will get smarter, feeding you information, alerts, and suggestions—you can see at-a-glance everything that’s happening on your farm.

For us, this has transformed everything about how we work. We hope it does the same for you.

Clinton

 

(Our next two WIZARDS will help you set up the tools for managing 1) operation reminders on your farm and 2) seed inventory. Subscribe here if you haven’t already, or click GET STARTED to start using Black Dirt for free.)

The Small Farm Is Sacred

Like the home or church, the small farm is a sacred place.

Where life is born, sustained, and made more joyful.

But the small farm is disappearing.

Our towns and cities don’t need more grocery stores. They need more small farms. They need food that’s grown right, tastes great, and eaten fresh. The small farm is better for our well-being, for our plates, for our environment and for our economy. But competing with large, capital-rich grocery chains is a big task for a small farm.

I started my own farm in 2011, and it’s been life-changing. I’m more connected to the food I eat, the people I share it with, and the community around me. I’m healthier and happier. And the entire venture has been enjoyable and profitable.

When I started, I found myself frustrated with the software options that were out there. They either a) lacked essentially features that a good farm needs to operate well, or b) were prohibitively expensive. The fact that so many of us are using pen and paper or some cumbersome Excel workbook suggests that I’m not the only one that felt that way.

My background is in software and tech. I knew I could do better, and do it cheaper, than what was out there. So over the course of 6 years, using my own farm as a test case, I developed Black Dirt. And it’s been a game-changer for my farm.

But software alone isn’t going to save my farm or yours. So we started experimenting with other ways of doing business: finding new approaches to our operation; using technology in new, breakthrough ways; staying true to small farming practices but automating the customer experience so we could focus on food; and stealing the tools used by large, profitable farms and making them affordable for the small farm.

But it can’t be our farm alone. It has to be tens of thousands of small farms throughout the world, in every community. Because everyone deserves to eat good food, grown locally, and grown right.

Our unconventional approach, robust software platform, and belief that the small farm plays a critical role in the community has turned into a mission: Making big business of small farming. We’re not in competition with each other, but with the grocery store. In fact, the only way for the small farm to be successful is if we all are. Together, we’re tens of thousands of farms strong.

So we hope you’ll try Black Dirt. And if, for whatever reason, you find the software and our approach is not for you, we hope you’ll still stick around, subscribing to the project, and participating where our various initiatives are a good fit for you and your farm.

Because small farming isn’t just business. It’s sacred.