Technology has turned car owners into cab drivers, and homeowners into hospitality managers. Now let's turn backyard gardeners into farmers.
Perhaps you have experienced what we like to call the "zucchini problem." You know, the time of year you consistently find abandoned squash on your front porch, left there by some desperate neighbor. It's this annoying, yet delicious, scenario that led three nonprofit organizations in Denver (Denver Food Rescue, Denver Urban Gardens, and Groundwork Denver) to invent Fresh Food Connect. Why should the highest quality, homegrown food go to waste instead of be eaten by neighbors who actually want it?
Back in 2016, these founding organizations partnered with social enterprise web-development firm CauseLabs to develop a simple online tool, which allowed backyard gardeners to easily schedule youth employees in Northeast Denver to pick up excess homegrown produce. The produce was distributed to various organizations serving food insecure populations in the area. In the first year, Fresh Food Connect's bike-based youth employees picked up thousands of pounds of super high quality, local produce.
By the summer of 2017, Fresh Food Connect had received hundreds of requests from gardeners all over the world, all excited about the ability to donate their excess. In 2018, with the help of Whole Foods Market, Fresh Food Connect was able to export its technology to 8 organizations working throughout Colorado and Wyoming. But our vision of Fresh Food Connect has always been much more radical that this simple donation platform.
Although this tool has worked wonders in reducing food waste for backyard gardeners, we are building Fresh Food Connect to do much more. We envision a one of a kind "virtual homegrown food hub," in which hyperlocal food can be traded or sold to businesses and individuals in your area, reducing the number of "food miles" your dinner has to undertake before being eaten. We want to use technology to unlock the power of homegrown food, giving the average backyard gardener a place in the food system.
With the Help of the Morgridge Family Foundation, Fresh Food Connect has been spun off into its own nonprofit, and is currently hiring a CEO, undergoing a massive overhaul, and growing to 425 chapters across the US by 2022. Join us for the ride!
I currently serve as the President of the Board of Fresh Food Connect.