8 December 2018

The UGArden Capstone team worked with UGArden, a student-run farm sponsored by the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, to help resolve record keeping issues with the goal of organic certification for the medicinal herb business that sells tea. UGArden’s medicinal herb program is currently funded through a grant, but the goal is for UGArden to be a self-sustaining business, which could be made possible by marketing the teas as organic.

To become certified organic, UGArden must be able to provide three years of detailed records regarding the seeds, planting process, growing process, harvesting process and drying process. At the start of the semester, UGArden was using sheets of paper and a Google form to track data, but pieces of paper would get lost and data entries were not clear or consistent. More importantly, the data did not yield valuable results that would allow the program coordinator, Noelle Fuller, to make strategic decisions to grow the business.

The UGArden Capstone team worked diligently to create an IPad app that would allow data to be tracked from seeding to bagging the tea. The multistep growing process proved to be difficult to track because batches of herbs had separate data for the seeding and growing process and then separate data for the harvesting and bagging process, which required a delayed input of data. As a solution, data is entered on the app and after harvesting, a label is generated with a QR code and identification number that physically follows the batch of herbs. Later, as herbs need to be dried and bagged into tea blends that require additional data, users can scan the QR code on the label and continue to enter data. The app allows for a comprehensive overview of data that UGArden will be able to submit to the certifying agent after three years.

To support UGArden’s goal of becoming self-sustaining, the UGArden Capstone team created a separate website for the medicinal herb program, featuring information, education and most importantly, an ecommerce platform to buy the tea. The WordPress website is a modern site that shows the features of the medicinal tea and utilizes a Woocommerce front-end store to buy the teas. In order to follow University of Georgia guidelines, the back-end payment processor needed to remain within the university’s control, which unfortunately meant an outdated system. However, the team will utilize Google Analytics to determine if the outdated payment processor is hindering conversion rates. With useful data, the team hopes to get Stripe, a modern payment processor, approved.