Where the Tech and Agricultural Industries Meet
By Katie Moore
New start-ups focus on access to locally grown food.
With people’s growing interest in local, more sustainable agriculture, the tech industry is seizing the opportunity to develop websites and apps that give users the ability to get their hands on locally grown food.
One such platform is Ripe Near Me which has created a food map that allows users to share, trade, buy, or sell local food. It is free to use and you can search fields such as ‘Category’ to see what is available and ‘Status’ to see if it is ripe or growing. Co-founder Alistair Martin says, “We encourage people to participate in the food system. Anyone who grows food can list their produce to share, swap or sell. It could be a pot of herbs, a rooftop beehive, or a thriving backyard orchard. No matter the scale, you and I can be urban farmers and provide an ultra-local food alternative to our neighborhood, while finding others nearby who do the same.” Other unique features include the ability to subscribe to growers to get updates and to leave reviews of the products. The website is still in a beta version and the developers are raising money so that the site can be expanded geographically.
A similar start-up whose aim is also to connect farmers with consumers is called Farmstr. Founder Janelle Maiocco, a chef and food blogger emphasizes the quality of the farm as each has been vetted for their sustainability as well as the pricing which is kept down by cutting out retailer costs. It is also free for both farmers and buyers to sign up and use, although it does take a cut when a sale goes through. She says, “Our goal is to be the Airbnb for local farm food.” Over 100 farmers have signed up so far and Maiocco has acquired a $1.3 million investment which she hopes will broaden the site to include locations in addition to Washington state.
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