Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

This Site has Moved to SonOfFiveRivers.com

Click Here to Vist NEW Site: www.SonOfFiveRivers.com

I’ve been blogging for several months now and I’m glad to have recieved the feedback I have.  I’ve enjoyed the experince and for that reason I’ve decided to take blogging to another level.  I’ll be self hosting my blog and that means you’ll see a lot more creativity in the design, functionality and layout of the new blog.

Check it out: www.SONofFIVErivers.com

Cheers

January 22, 2010 Posted by | 1, A Thought, Ads, Agriculture, Art, Blogging, Books, Brochure, Business, Business Cards, Business Development, Business Model, Carbon Credits, Clean Energy, Co-op, Community Economic Development (CED), Computer Networking, Construction, Creativity, Data Recovery, Definitions, Earth, Economics, Education, Electric Cars, Email, Entrepreneurship, Family, Finance, Geothermal, Government, Grants, Great Ideas, Green Roofs, Human Resources, Information Technology (I.T.), Inspiration, Investment, LEED, Life, Marketing, Micro Credit, Not for Profit, Open Source, Packaging, PDA's, Philanthropy, Photography, Politics, Power Piont, Products, Project Management, Quotes, Sales, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Services, Social Enterprise, Social Media, Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development, Taxes, Venture Capital, Videos, War, Waste, Water, Website | Leave a comment

Changing Requirements

I had a professor named Hooks who spent 21 years working for NASA and helped design the first space shuttle (The Enterprise).  One thing she focused on was the importance of requirements gathering.  She spent 12.5 years doing requirements gathering for the enterprise alone.  She followed by sharing the point that if we waited until we knew everything  we needed to know to build something, we would never get started.  So there is always a fine balance with collecting to much information, for those people with this issues product lifecycle models can help understand the entire process.

Here are a few things I’ve seen and experienced with changing requirements:  Even with a thorough requirement definition effort, change is sometimes inevitable so put together a change management process:

  • Establish a Change Control Process
  • Develop standard forms for collecting requirement changes that include justification (2 reasons)
  • Develop procedures for a thorough impact assessment
  • A system to communicate approved changes quickly to the people who need to know
  • Implement a procedure to ensure all documents are updated when changes are approved.

2 Changes to Avoid:

  • Rush Changes:  “It’s just a little change”  (Any programmer will know right off that bat what this means…)
  • Deferred Changes:  Approving it today and doing it tomorrow

The Change Management Sanity Check: (The Criteria for change)

  • Is it broken? (If Yes = Fix it)
  • Is it illegal? (If Yes = Fix it)
  • Is it unethical or immortal? (If Yes = Fix it)
  • If No = Consider leaving it alone

*Just remember the cost of fixing an error goes up as development progresses.

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Business Model | , , | Leave a comment

Product Lifecycles & The Models

Here’s a quick snapshot of three types of Product Life Cycles:  Remember there are more similarities then differences  among the types of product lifecycles.

Waterfall Lifecycle (Good when you have a great deal of knowledge of your initial requirements, This is the most popular and you may just find that the rest are just a variation of this one.)

Spiral Lifecycle (Good when wanting to mature a technology and you know the requirements are going to evolve over time, this is a popular in software industry. )

Incremental Lifecycle (Good when you know you don’t have the fully resources  available in the get go and you know your project will make continual releases, this is also another popular in the software industry)

Incremental Lifecycle Diagram.  A textual description of this image is contained in the following paragraphs.

(This is the best picture I can find… I’m not  fan, but I hope it gives you snap shot)

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Business Model | , , , | Leave a comment

Business Process Modeling Tool (SAP Gravity on Google Wave)

This post shows how the BPM can be done more colloboratively with todays technology (iPhone, Google Wave),  and the ease of exporting data into your workstation for later execution

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Business, Business Model | , , , , | Leave a comment

Average age of MBA students in Canada

What is the average age of a student in a MBA School in Canada?

In Canada, the average age of an MBA student is 29.9 years. There is no apparent correlation between the age of a student and the size, reputation, and/or ranking of the MBA school he or she attends. However, there is a proportional relationship between age and work experience. That is, schools whose students’ average age exceeds the national average age for MBA schools tend to have student bodies with an average of approximately 2.4 years more of work experience than those whose average age is at or below the national average. However, there is no correlation between higher than average work experience and the size, reputation, and/or ranking of the school. Similarly, there is no relationship between an higher average age and a higher than average score on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

Moreover, MBA schools with extensive cooperative learning opportunities, such as the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University and the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor, tend to have a student population whose average age falls under the national average. While there is no definitive reason for this, cooperative programs may attract younger students because they usually have less real-world work experience than more mature learners, and cooperative education provides the former an avenue through which to garner real-world workplace familiarity.

On the other hand, MBA schools who have more opportunities for distance learning, like Athabasca University and Queen’s University, tend to have an older than average student body. Again, there is no conclusive answer as to why this is the case. However, older students tend to have extensive business and work experience and, often, a full-time career. Distance learning, therefore, provides these students, who may not believe they require a traditional classroom education, a flexible learning option which makes minimal demands on their regular schedules and routine and allows them to, among other things, continue working full-time.

UNIVERSITY AVERAGE CLASS SIZE
Concordia University 30
Dalhousie University 30
HEC Montreal 31
McGill University 150
Memorial University of Newfoundland 10-40
Queen’s University 61
Royal Military College Class for core courses average 20-25 students; classes for elective courses average 8-10 students
Ryerson University The classes will be small, facilitating a dynamic interactive learning environment.
University of Alberta 43
University of British Columbia 100-150
University of New Brunswick-Fredericton 10-25 students in elective courses; 30-45 students in core courses.

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Education | | Leave a comment

Selling to Governments (Reasons of Failure)

I’m subscribed to Canada Export a newsletter released by the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, in it I came across the below article and thought it could be beneficial to those businesses trying to win government contract bids.  I had previously hosted a seminar around selling to the government which included presenters who were purchasers and buyers all the way from SAP to the Provincial Government. It covered some of the in’s and out’s of the bid process and I think this  article touches briefly on some of the issues businesses face.

………………….

An OOPS! sign

Too often, entrepreneurs spend thousands of dollars trying to win U.S. government contracts with no results. According to one expert, the reasons for failure come down to three common mistakes. Avoid them, she says, and increase your chances of success.

1. Entrepreneurs set unrealistic expectations.

“There is a myth out there that to win a government contract, all you have to do is follow the instructions,” says Judy Bradt, a former trade commissioner who is now Principal and CEO of Summit Insight, a firm that has guided over 5,000 clients to over $200 million in U.S. government contracts.
“Thousands of business owners have discovered that when they follow the instructions on websites like FedBizOpps [the U.S. federal government site that publishes opportunities], diligently hunt down bid notices and pump out proposals, the process does not usually reward their hard work” says Bradt. “They get frustrated by failures, especially when the contracts always seem wired for somebody else. Success takes a lot more than just writing proposals.”

The fix:

Companies that consistently win contracts research those opportunities a long time before competitions begin. They take the time to build relationships with buyers, influencers and partners. They adapt products or services for government buyers, and collaborate with those buyers to develop the specifications that will be published. They create targeted marketing campaigns and tactics to attract these new buyers, says Bradt.

This also applies if you’re a supplier or subcontractor to a bigger company that holds the prime contract with the government. Be sure that investment of time and money fits your risk threshold as well as your plans to grow your company.

Before your next proposal, understand every part of the government business development cycle that your competitors had to master to win their contracts. Decide if you’re ready for that investment. If so, then approach government contracts as a long-haul effort with your eyes wide open and your team ready to learn what winners have already figured out.

2. Businesses pursue opportunities on a shoestring budget.

“If your business is struggling, going after government contracts can hurt more than it helps,” says Bradt. Cash-flow horizons are longer in the public sector than in the private sector, both to develop business and to get paid for your work. Typically, government buyers are risk-averse and cautious about trying new vendors and ideas.

Runaway success in the first year is rare, says Bradt. Expect to spend 18 to 24 months investing money and time to develop relationships, find opportunities and partners, and prepare proposals before you turn a consistent profit. “Many managers rightly decide that it takes too much time and risk to develop a new market. And, unlike in the private sector, most government contracts don’t pay you up front. Unless you negotiate progress payments, you need enough funds to survive until after you do the work, invoice and get paid. That big contract can put you out of business.”

The fix:

First, explore alternate forms of financing. Your current line of credit is often not enough to pursue the contract, win it and finish the project. Even healthy companies are shocked to find that their bankers do not simply extend that line to finance a signed government contract. Asset-based financing is your cheapest money, but takes time to arrange. Alternative financing (aka “last-minute money”) is always more expensive and will evaporate your profits.

Bradt recommends that entrepreneurs forge a closer relationship with their banker. “If you’ve decided to pursue government contracts, and have revised your marketing budget to support that pursuit, review your access to working capital and financing. Then visit your banker to find out about financing options before you launch your campaign.”

3. Resist the temptation to use shotgun tactics.

“Too often, entrepreneurs go to FedBizOpps and pump out proposals for anything that appears relevant,” she says. The result is that most of their efforts are just as scattered and not much reaches the target. “If you go after everything, you might win something but most of your resources will be wasted and nobody has that kind of time and money to spare.”

The fix:

Focus. “When you want to win government contracts, you have to research and focus tightly to win,” says Bradt. Otherwise, you’ll go broke trying, she says. Savvy companies scope out the competition and possible partners in order to position themselves to win the projects that really fit them long before they put serious resources into pursuing those opportunities.

Free websites offer extraordinary amounts of federal contract market intelligence. Look into USAspending.gov, Central Contractor Registration, GSA Advantage, and Schedule Sales Query. These are all good sources if you’re testing the waters and not ready for a big investment yet.

Looking ahead

U.S. federal contract spending in 2009 topped a record $550 billion. And Bradt expects 2010 to look much the same. “The U.S. government has set a goal of spending 70% of the stimulus money by fall of 2010. Twelve months out, almost 47% had been allocated for specific purposes. Of that, only 16% has been spent. That means there’s a very stimulating year ahead—if you’re developing opportunities long before the competition begins.”

For more information, visit the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in the United States.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Business, Business Development, Great Ideas, Investment, Marketing, Sales, Services | , , , | Leave a comment

Retro & Vintage Design

So I woke up pretty early this morning (5:30am) and thought lets work on a project that I’ve been postponing for a while…  So I collected some vintage and retro art design for this long overdue project and thought some people might find it inspiring.   I enjoy the branding side of business and I think this look can help a business stand out by giving it a unique and distinct flavor.

As an individual whos all about requirements gathering I find it very difficult to sit with a designer and just explain what I need.  I’ve about diagrams, charts, brief statements, pictures etc. So this collection should help me with that process and also provide me with a single place to store all these pictures.  Hope its useful for whatever you need it for, enjoy!

Some of these pics came came from http://www.smashingmagazine.com, an online magazine dedicated to designers and developers.

  • illustrations from old posters, movies, newspapers, CDs, vinyls, ads;Movie in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old-style typography (e.g. Roman typefaces);Class in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • script fonts and handwriting;Script in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old radio devices;Radio in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old TV devices;Tv in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old cars;Car2 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old packaging;Package in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old photos;Photos in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • vibrant rainbow colors (high contrast, neon-style);Rainbow in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • torn, used paper with stains (often yellowish paper);Paper in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • dark, dirty colors (brown, dark red, dark blue) and textures (e.g. paper);Dark in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • scrapbooks;Scrap in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • pop-art elements (see also Pop Art Is Alive: Classics and Modern Artworks);Popart in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • retro illustrations;Posters in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old-style signs;Hire in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • vintage and retro are often combined with a hand-drawing style and grunge style.

11 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Custom Design

44 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Big Rig Design

28 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

AdaptD.com

8 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

FortySeven Media

47 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Jeffrey Sarmiento

1 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Klassiker in Acryl

48 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Level2D.com

43 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Rob Across America

45 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Slabovia.tv

31 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Dallas Advertising Agency

23 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Sensi Soft

40 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

mediaBOOM

27 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The New York Moon

3 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

~ The Statement ~ The Official Blog of The Old State

4 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

MacTarnahan’s Brewing Company

2 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

ISO50 – The Visual Work of Scott Hansen

5 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Tricycle Terror

6 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Charlies Loan

7 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Small Stone Recordings

10 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Big Cartel

12 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Ernest Hemingway Collection

15 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

jrojr.com

16 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Five Cent Stand – Bitter Kiss

18 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Tennessee Vacation

22 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Prahba

25 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Thigpen Designs

30 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Team Mongolmania

32 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

tomatic

33 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Superest

34 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Red&Blu Winter ‘08-’09

35 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Lataka

37 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Booreiland

41 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Fuelhaus

42 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

intensify.org

46 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Mister-Aero

49 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Dollar Dreadful Family Library

50 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Creating Passionate Users

54 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Dennis Jones Artwork

55 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Capitol Media

56 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

One Horse Shy

57 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Lippincott

58 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

BlackMoon Development

59 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Sourcebits TangledDecals

61 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

FOWA Miami

62 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Bestial design

63 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The First Twenty

64 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Blizzards

65 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Thuiven

66 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Internet Zillionaire

53 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Renaissance-Designs

Timoni.org

52 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Theocacao

51 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

January 15, 2010 Posted by | Ads, Art, Brochure, Business Cards, Creativity, Marketing, Packaging, Photography, Products, Sales, Website | | Leave a comment

Cyber Attacks on Google form China over Human Rights Activists Gmail Accounts!

Below is a  rare and transparent statement that was just released by Google  David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer about the most recent cyber attack to hack human rights activist email accounts.  Most organizations would cover this up so nobody would know they have vulnerabilities but looks like Google is trying to makeup for previous mistakes in China rethinking their overall strategy in China.

Previously Google had caved to the pressure of the Chinese Government by launching a localised version of its website (www.google.cn) that self-censors information deemed “subversive” by the Communist authorities.  Shocking sin’t it and even more so when we Googles unofficial motto is “Do No Evil?”  The search engine has engineered its search facilities to restrict 110 million online users from searching for information on Tibetan independence or the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

In order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on Google.cn, in response to local law, regulation or policy,” Google Statement

I’m sure they know they were going to be criticized over this but the company’s motivation is partly a need to restore its declining market share in China and partly a hope that providing a restricted service will help to unleash information in the country in the future.

The Statement:

“Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident–albeit a significant one–was something quite different.

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses–including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors–have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.

We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks can read this U.S. government report (PDF), Nart Villeneuve’s blog andthis presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.

We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China’s economic reform programs and its citizens’ entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.

We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.”

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , | 1 Comment

They went to Jail, I wrote a Letter!

So here’s the story, at the UN Climate Summit last month in Copenhagen.  A group of four managed to get into a dinner party where world leaders were dining with the Queen of Denmark and they held up a banner demanding they take action against global warming.  I’m a Greenpeace member, so I while these people went to jail I sent the letter below when the Executive Director Kumi Naidoo reached out and asked its members.

To:
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia
José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
Faced with the unique opportunity to stop climate change in Copenhagen, world leaders offered instead an historic failure.  In sharp contrast, we and the world’s environment, hunger, and justice groups are mobilizing the largest movement civil society has ever witnessed, to demand a fair, ambitious, legally binding climate treaty.
I stand in solidarity with those who have taken non-violent direct action or committed peaceful acts of civil disobedience to demand climate justice. That includes the four Greenpeace activists who were detained without trial in Denmark for holding up banners at a head of state dinner. I have contributed to their action by supporting Greenpeace — financially, morally, or in my day to day life.  If the response of governments to the threat of climate change is going to be preventive detention of those likely to support or commit acts of civil disobedience, count me among the 15 million people you may need to round up.
I urge you to recognise that civil disobedience to demand action against so grave a threat is an act of community service.
Yours faithfully,
*********

Update:

The four activists have been released.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Carbon Credits, Clean Energy, Community Economic Development (CED), Government, Great Ideas, Inspiration, Life, Politics, Social Media, Sustainability, War | , , | Leave a comment

An Old- Fasion Approach

An Amish Entrepreneur’s Old-Fashioned Approach

Without electricity, a car, or a cell phone, Amos Miller turned his dad’s Pennsylvania farm into a $1.8 million national food retailer

I hope you enjoy this story its by  David Gumpert of Business Week and he’s made me think on a few occasions… Anyhow here’s a little bit about David, he’s a journalist who blogs regularly about the business of health and has written a number of books about small business and entrepreneurship, including Burn Your Business Plan! His latest book is, The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights.  Now Enjoy!

Imagine trying to build a national food retailing business based on mail order, far-flung distributors, and trade shows—without using the Internet. No e-mail newsletters or Web site for taking orders and handling complaints, no Facebook fans, or Google (GOOG) ads, or Twitter following.

That’s not all. Imagine doing it without using cell phones or computers. No BlackBerry for expediting orders. No CRM software for segmenting customer lists. Absolutely no texting.

Let your imagination go a little further and picture doing it without driving a car or without using electricity. No quick trips to the post office to ship orders, and no fax machine, scanner, or copier.

Remarkable Anomaly

This is the world of Miller Farm, a Pennsylvania food producer that has grown to $1.8 million in annual sales from less than half that four years ago. The farm is so busy it’s turning away orders from food cooperatives around the country.

But data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggest what an anomaly Miller Farm is.

While farming is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, with more than 300,000 new farms started from 2002 to 2007, accounting for nearly 2 million small farms, making a good living is becoming tougher. The USDA in its 2007 census said the number of small farms with $100,000 to $250,000 annual sales (its highest revenue range for small farms) declined 7%.

Horse-and-Buggy Ways

The driving force behind this anomaly is 32-year-old Amos Miller. He’s not growing his business bereft of so many modern conveniences out of some sense of purity or to prove a point, but rather because he is Amish. As part of their religious beliefs, the Amish turn their backs on modern-day conveniences and are highly visible in the areas of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where most live, notable for their dark clothing and their horses and buggies, which compete with cars and trucks on local roads. They avoid even having their photos taken, which is why we can’t include a photo of Miller and his family.

Located in Bird-in-Hand, Pa., Miller Farm was started by Amos’ father, Jacob. Amos says he and his dad concluded in 2000, based on conversations they had with customers and representatives of organizations that promote nutrient-dense foods, that interest was about to grow significantly. The two of them focused on expanding the farm’s product line, so they now offer 31 products, from grassfed beef (including not only various steak cuts, but marrow bones, ox tail, and tallow) to milk-fed pork, pastured chicken (including chickens not fed any soy), and 16 varieties of cultured veggies (including fermented ketchup, cabbage juice, and tomato salsa).

The interest in such foods has helped drive the rapid growth of farmer’s markets, private buyers clubs, cooperatives, and community supported agriculture (known as CSAs, whereby consumers commit to buying a particular producer’s foods for a season or ongoing). Once popular mainly for vegetables, CSAs now exist for meat and even for fish.

Quest for Nutrient Density

“It used to be that organic was all the rage,” says Dan Kittredge, executive director of the Real Food Campaign, which is part of advocacy group Re-Mineralize the Earth. “Now everyone has organic.” Nutrient-dense food is the new rage and gives “the advantage back” to small farmers who leverage the notion that certain foods, such as fermented vegetables, grass-fed beef, and pastured chickens, are more nutritious than conventionally produced products and may help consumers strengthen their immune systems. “There is money to be made here,” he says.

And making money is what Miller Farm is doing. “I can’t meet all the demand,” says Amos Miller. He relies on additional supplies of product from his brother, John, who “grows the produce that we ferment and process here,” and from three other neighboring Amish and Mennonite farmers.

What distinguishes Miller Farm from others, such as celebrity farmer Joel Salatin’s farm in Virginia, which has helped popularize nutrient-dense foods, is that Miller has gone national—and done it without modern conveniences. His main concessions to modern life are a generator for refrigeration to cool certain foods and a landline telephone (717-556-0672) to take orders from distributors and mail-order customers. He also relies on FedEx (FDX) for shipping orders to customers.

Courting the Foodies

To market his wares and network, Miller regularly attends events popular with foodie types. At the annual conference of the Weston A.Price Foundation, held in November at a hotel outside Chicago, he and several other Amish manned a large table in the exhibitor area, selling large jars of fermented veggies, maple syrup, and homemade spelt noodles.In December, at a conference in St.Paul, Minn., of sustainable farmers and their customers put on by Acres USA, Miller’s offerings were a little different: at breakfast time, slices of dense grain bread slathered in butter and honey; and at lunch, plates of bread with homemade liverwurst and salami.

How did he get all that food to the conferences if he doesn’t drive? He rented a refrigerated truck and hired a non-Amish neighbor to drive it. He stored the food in dozens of coolers with refrigerant chemical blocks.

“He’s a hustler,” says Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, who mans a booth near Miller’s at the Weston A. Price Foundation conference.

The Blessings of Dirt

The conferences bring in not only direct revenues but also customers from around the country. For instance, many of the attendees at the Weston A. Price Foundation conference are involved with food cooperatives back home that are seeking the kinds of foods Miller’s farm produces. The orders pour in from individual consumers the old-fashioned way—via snail mail, as well as via the farm’s conventional telephone line. The farm receives regular orders from food cooperatives as far away as Florida and California.

While he says he’s proud of the fact that “we’re making a lot of money,” Miller notes that elders in his church worry about the growth. “They discourage us getting too big,” he notes, in part because they don’t want Amish farmers to be tempted by the marvels of modern technology. “As long as we don’t rely on computers and electronics, they’re okay.”

Miller says he doesn’t get frustrated by not having modern conveniences. In fact, when he’s at trade shows, he usually can’t wait to get back home. “The city is a pretty sterile environment,” he says. “But if I did it once a month, I’d get lost, I’d forget what it’s like to get dirty.”

January 11, 2010 Posted by | Business, Creativity, Great Ideas | , , | 1 Comment

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