City dwellers around the country are finding creative ways to use their fire escapes, windows, backyards, and abandoned lots to grow food in the city. As the movement matures, decentralized networks and entrepreneurial ventures related to the production, processing, and distribution of food grown in the city have begun to sprout.
These entrepreneurial ventures are changing the business of food production. However, without any central repository of information about what is going on in the growing sector, there is no easy way to access information regarding best practices and the economics of the movement (more on this next week). Which is why I was interested to learn more about Farm Food Connect, a new urban farm and food directory that allows anyone to add and search profiles of both hobby and commercial urban food growers and producers.. The directory is designed to facilitate: local food production; cottage industry in farm and food; creative and effective systems of exchange.
Next week, I will continue looking at the economics of urban agriculture as it relates to innovations in information management.
Danielle Gould: What was the inspiration for Food Farm Connect?
Esperanza Pallana: When I started urban farming, I did not know others growing primarily food and keeping livestock. Whenever I heard of someone, I’d reach out to them to visit and talk to them. I realized they are an amazing resource not just to other gardeners/urban farmers, but in their community. This inspired me to create a tool to develop a tool that connects us to each other for resource sharing and information exchange. In creating Farm Food Connect, I saw the potential for community access to local food, food knowledge and other urban farm and food resources.
DG: What problem are you solving?
EP: I see Farm Food Connect as an important tool that supports a growing cottage industry in urban farm and food; creates community access to fresh affordable food; and preserves food heritage. Each of these issues is critical in order to have a vibrant, healthy and sustainable community.
DG: How many urban farmers and homesteaders are there in the Bay Area?
EP: I don’t know how many people would be identified as urban farmers or homesteaders in the Bay Area. Part of this is not knowing exactly what classifies someone as an urban farmer or homesteader, other than when they identify themselves as such. However, the number of people who either grow food, preserve food, or support those of us that do is easily in the many hundreds.
DG: I see you started a kickstarter campaign. How will you use the funds raised through the campaign?
EP: I am raising funds for Farm Food Connect in order to expand it functionality. Currently, other than my time, expenses have been minimal and out of pocket. What I can do depends on the amount I can raise. The budget has some flexibility but there is a bottom line. See below to support this project:
DG: Is this a full time project? If so, what is your business model?
EP: Currently, Farm Food Connect is a part time project of mine. There is much to be done with it so it can easily be full time. It is only a matter of funding to the project.