Meet Justin: The Together Farmer!

Nov 12, 2014

I’m smiling as I write this week’s post.

I met Justin a few months ago down at IDEA Public Schools in the Rio Grande Valley. I could tell he wasn’t a classroom teacher when I peered over his shoulder at his calendar—and then I got REALLY excited when I learned he was the Farm Program Developer for IDEA!

My little sister owns and runs an organic dairy farm in central Maine, near where I grew up, and she is a super Together Farmer. So I’m always interested in this whole farming thing. (Honesty Note: My definition of interest means barely taking time to water my pathetic suburban container herb garden and buying my weight in Honey Crisp apples at the farmer’s market each weekend, but hey, a girl can pretend, yes?)

How cute are these students in the gardens? Really, can you stand it?!?Now let’s get down to business. One might ASSUME that farm education equals let’s-be-all-loose-with-no-plans-because-weather-gets-in-the-way and we deal with a TON of students… but not for Justin and his team! He’s actually super digital in a ton of beneficial ways.

1. Justin’s Basic Use of the Outlook Calendar. Here is a week in Justin’s life. He moves between sites, where he is responsible for a combination of field, school, and administrative work – and he is also the dad of two little boys of his own. I love how Justin chunks his time for efficiency. For example, he blocked off time to answer emails from a Starbucks before he heads out to the farms for the day.


2. Justin’s Extra Awesome Use of the Outlook Calendar. Justin takes it a step further than most. When he OPENS an actual appointment, such as “Donna Farm: Lay Down Soil Amendments,” he can see where he’s listed exactly what he needs to do in that block of time. Many digitally-oriented people skip this step and assume just blocking the time is enough. It’s not. Take it a step further and break out your to-do’s into bite-sized steps like Justin has done.

3. Justin’s Use of Evernote as a Team Communication and Documentation Tool. Justin reports,

“Since we are spaced very far apart, I purchased iPads for my farmers so they can digitally sign invoices, do daily journals and complete documentation.”

Justin’s team uses Evernote as a catch-all for things like storing PDFs of equipment manuals and creating templates on how to fill out monthly mileage reimbursements.  There are two cool examples below: the first is a daily farm journal where Justin can see priorities and updates on each farm site, and the second is a tiller maintenance schedule to make sure machinery stays serviced. Docs like these are so useful when managing remotely. Plus, they probably save the school lots of money!

Justin, I’m totally in awe of you and your team. And readers, because I cannot resist…

P.S. Justin says Evernote is giving his team an education discount, so they pay around $2 – 2.50 per user per month.  His team of four has this powerful efficiency tool for just $8- 10/month! Gooooo, Evernote! And go farms!