By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator
AgSquared is a farm management software company created by researchers who have dedicated their careers to making it easier to run a farm well.
Founders Jeff and Giulia were ahead of their time when their platform launched in 2011: they were working in cloud-based technology well before our tech lives all migrated up into the sky!
Since then, it's become an invaluable tool for farms all over the country. We spoke with co-founder Jeff Froikin-Gordon to learn what's new at AgSquared, how their tool helps CNG farms stay organized, and what's on the horizon for this multi-faceted platform.
Jeff Froikin-Gordon (JFG): Giulia and I were vegetable breeders working around the world, from smallholder farmers in West Africa to large-scale mechanized tomato growers in California. We realized that record-keeping was a challenge for everyone at every scale. Ten years ago, it was still early to be building record-keeping solutions that used cloud computing and mobile technology, but we stuck with it, because we believed it was the right approach for farm management.
JFG: We are all about making it easier to run a farm well.
We recognize that it can be challenging to balance sustainability and profitability. But, if you have an easy-to-use streamlined record-keeping system, that system can help to remove some of the impediments to striking balance. Everything falls into place once you can track the results of your efforts.
CNG: How did you make the decision to support CNG as a Business Ally?
JFG: It was a no-brainer for us! We are allies in the truest sense: CNG has a similar objective to ours in that CNG’s goal is to make it easier for a grower to demonstrate to their customers that they’re growing without synthetic chemicals or GMOs. We want to make it easier for CNG members to keep records in order to document compliance.
A big part of what we believe is that if you keep good records, that same dataset can be used for many different purposes to gain greater insight. We make is easier for CNG members to do their job better by keeping better data. I think it’s a real win when the same records can be used for time tracking, for yield tracking, for food safety compliance… and also achieve CNG certification!
CNG: What are some exciting developments at AgSquared our CNG community can look forward to in 2019 and beyond?
JFG: Over the years, we’ve steadily broadened our product offerings. We started with tools for small growers, but recently we’ve recently developed a lot of functionality that’s targeted more towards large-scale farms. Slowly over the last year, we’ve been making more and more of our large-scale oriented features scale-appropriate for smaller farms as well.
Things like purchase ordering and inventory, management of payroll, and tracking of the harvest process were developed first with large customers in mind, and we’re starting to optimize those for smaller farms.
Additionally, we’re working on a couple of integrations with companies who help farmers sell their products (both in management of sales and relationships with buyers). We can’t say who just yet, but we will let you know when we can!
Finally, we’re working on an even more simplified version of AgSquared for an easier way to get started with record-keeping, entirely through a mobile device.
CNG: If you had a magic agricultural wand, how would you use it to improve farm systems in America?
JFG: I know from my relationships with so many different farmers that they want to do the right thing. They want to decrease their environmental impact. They want to farm more in-tune with the natural environment, and decrease their reliance on pesticides. Farmers WANT to farm more sustainability.
If I had a magic agricultural wand I would empower farmers to be able to truly see everything that’s happening on their farm, and the implications of the decisions that they’re making and are faced with.
Empowered with sufficient knowledge, the food system will continue to move in the direction of sustainability of its own accord. I don’t think it’s a lack of will. It’s a lack of visibility.
CNG: Is there anything else CNG growers should know?
JFG: One of our very first customers within the first 48 hours of our launch back in 2011 was a CNG farm, Five Elements Farm. (Note from CNG: this Worthington, PA farm is in the process of re-joining the certification after a brief hiatus)