I officially launched LocallyGrownNews.com
last week after a month in soft launch where I invited close friends and collaborators to take a look at the site. I've gotten great feedback regarding the design and I love how the community members are front and center on the site.
Last week, my developer and I tweaked the site to add the popup bubbles on the community members. Now when you mouse over who's online or who's new, you get their mini bio and how long they've been a member. My goal is to allow users to "wave" at one another and trade "gifts" using the bubbles, but that's on a long list of developments we're still working through on the site.
I sent my first email newsletter today, using Constant Contacts
free trial. While the interface seemed a bit clunky for a first-time user, I was pleased that CC actually called me when I initiated my account to see if I had any questions or concerns. Then they followed up this morning to make sure I had been able to send my email properly. Now THAT'S customer service! Thanks Erik!
So I've been cranking out new articles on the site, using my visits to farmers markets to generate two or three articles from each visit. Plus, I've been distributing postcards about the site to vendors in their booths, directing them to the site. So when I write an article about a vendor, I send them a link to the article or photo package and they put the links on their site.
The local food movement conversation has been a great choice for the content on the site. When I look around the farmers markets, I see such a diversity of humanity. I know this is the place to start the conversation about building our local economy, and the way to a community's heart is through its stomach.