Neighborhoods Become Urban Farms With Produce-Swapping App

RipeNearMe lets people share what they are growing and what stage it is at in the ripening process.

As the world’s population grows and industrialization spreads, food production is facing new challenges. Small farmers are being forced to relocate and Big Agriculture corporations are taking hold of the marketplace. Consumers recognize the resulting threats of pesticide contamination and product availability. While startups like Six Foods have recognized alternative food sources that combat this problem, two Australia-based entrepreneurs have identified an opportunity amongst the urban community.

RipeNearMe is a web application that allows people to sell, swap, or share homegrown food with the local community. People can post homegrown fruit and produce that they have in their yards to the site, and neighbors can sign up to buy the food or trade for it when they’re ready to be picked up.

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Growers keep neighbors informed with one of two status updates (growing or ripe) so that the forager knows when the food is available. Produce growing in local public spaces can also be added to the online platform.

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Ripe Near Me now has only 3,000 users and is in Beta testing. A crowd funding campaign is currently in motion to raise additional funds for further program development. The funds will be used for a variety of improvements, including better notification tools, farmer support, crop education, and a mobile application roll-out.

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More than ever, consumers are looking to make environmentally conscious decisions that support the local community, and peer-to-peer businesses are thriving off society’s desire to be increasingly interconnected. Idle resources are being utilized and cities are becoming the leaders in sustainability. RipeNearMe is evidence of this social phenomenon — and they in turn aim to “dramatically increase the quantity of urban and sustainably grown food.”

While the ultra-local food market that they promote is environmentally beneficial, it also encourages face-to-face interaction and community engagement. Co-founder Alistair Martin states:

RipeNearMe isn’t just a map or directory – it’s a social network. The site includes the ability to forge friendships online and offline, and share in your friend’s foraging and growing activity.

In the long-term, RipeNearMe plans to monetize the platform via “pro” features for farmers and affiliates. Martin affirms that this will have no effect on the user experience.

As for now, RipeNearMe is encouraging people to sign up and post their produce regardless if they’re ripe or not. The platform’s success ultimately depends on a solid user base and wide-spread awareness.

Six Foods // RipeNearMe // Crowdfunding

[h/t] Fast Company, Collaborative Consumption

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