The past year has seen a relentless upsurge in interest in farming as both a profession and a pastime
, but most farmers today are hardly experiencing any romanticized ideal
of tilling the land. Thankfully, many who have embraced local as a movement are part of the generation of digital natives, and some are now applying their tech skills to troubleshooting agricultural issues.
There are numerous environmental, cultural, and economic benefits
to buying local, but the hassle involved can preclude wholesale food buyers from abandoning the mega-farm system. Enter Sustaination
, a UK-based social network that connects growers with nearby businesses, in turn encouraging and streamlining local trade. Independent producers simply create a network profile through which they can update their crops for sale, and users browse to find nearby goods before venturing into the mainstream market. In an added green touch, Sustaination’s pricing model is based on the product’s footprint: members who trade within a 15-mile radius pay just ￡3 monthly, while those trading across larger distances pay a bit more.
Take the crowdfunding capabilities
of Kickstarter, add the collaborative spirit of co-ops, and apply the share-model premise popularized by local CSAs
, and you’ll end up with Farmhopping
, a forthcoming network that lets members buy into Bulgarian farmers’ livestock in exchange for a say in how the animals are handled. Founder Rossi Mitova hopes the Web-based platform will help preserve the country’s endangered native breeds by allowing external supporters to “adopt” actual sheep or goats and voice their say on whether the animals should be used for milking or breeding. Mitova hopes to expand beyond Bulgaria eventually and apply the model to permaculture
and endangered breeds worldwide.
Software platform Bucky Box
is a New Zealand-based “digital operations team” designed to help small farmers simplify the logistical challenge of delivering their produce. Its founders (one of whom was inspired by his work for micro-farm trading network Ooooby
) aim to make local, sustainably produced foods more accessible to the public. Farm owners who subscribe can easily automate their billing and delivery, with the aim of cutting the time spent on operational work from two days a week to a mere two hours—meaning even small, family-run farms will have the capacity to sell beyond their current scale, growing both their marketshare and their sustainable impact.