Local Farms Get Techno-Sexy

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My job at Safeway basically consists of signing people up for the company’s mobile app (which is called Just for U and is awesome and if you shop there you should totally sign up for it). Safeway’s pretty proud of itself for the app – when I was getting briefed on it my manager told me how it was one of the first of its kind, how Safeway has the largest digital coupon center in the world, all that. It really is a good program, but I’ve got some news for Safeway: you’re not the only ones going mobile.

Right now, all over the country, farmers have been turning to mobile apps to save time and money, and to increase communication with consumers. This isn’t just the Safeway’s and the Dole’s out there – it’s farmers market, local-produce types using technology to level the playing field, even if ever so slightly, against agribusiness.

Take Joan and Drew Norman, owners of One Straw Farm, one of the largest independent agricultural operations in Maryland. They’re working to create an app that will allow their customers to look at exactly what sort of produce will be available on a given week. One of the advantages corporate grocers have is the consistency of their supplies – you can walk into any Giant and buy apples in the summer and cherries through February. While this new technology won’t make local farms immune to the whims of the seasons, it’ll give people a little better idea of what to expect when they show up to market.

The Normons are hoping to raise $30,000 to build two apps – one for communicating with customers and another to help them with mobile record keeping. So far they’ve raised $5,784 on Kickstarter. Check out their video below, then visit the page and help support sustainable, local farming.

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