Farm Fresh at Your Fingertips
by NATHANIEL COX,
Founder & CEO of Sprout
I started my career as a Chef and Pastry Chef in Sydney Australia, 1999. It was a time of food fascination and the birth of Chef Rockstardom that still lives on today. The blood, sweat and tears of the culinary scene at that time is the backbone for all things chefy today.
After 17 years of globetrotting and using my culinary talents to pay my way, I spent a year reflecting on my journey while living in beautiful Central Oregon (shhh). The more I reflected the more I came to understand that a lot of the amazing moments during my career were directly related to the relationships I had with the farmers that brought me supplies. Not to mention the hands down better quality of product that I received from them compared to the commercial supply chains that restaurants rely on for much of their orders.
My grandmother and mother were both enthusiastic gardeners, growing citrus, rows of corn and lovely tomato bushes that I took much pleasure in raiding as a kid. My time WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) in the Tuscan hills stomping grapes, making goat cheese and tending to the crops are amazing memories.
I am constantly deflated by the inferior products that people are consuming on a day to day basis within the commercial food supply chain. Eighty percent of the food we eat from grocery outlets contain residual pesticides — “Organic” or otherwise. Commercial purchasers reject amazing produce simply because a caterpillar had a little snack on some leaves or some such natural occurrence. The ever increasing prices being charged by corporate food outlets is becoming a huge strain on peoples budgets. It vexes me greatly to know that farmers are being ripped off as well as consumers.
The margins that are made for farmers, thanks to the many layers that exist between farmers and consumers, makes farming a tough business to be involved in. Especially for the smaller tier operations that require more manual labor for their output. My relationship with food and my constant efforts to support local growers led me to a light bulb moment in my reflective times while staring at Mt. Bachelor, staring at me.
Two years ago I came up with a plan. I invested much of my life savings and today, through all the heartache, self-doubt and non-believers, I am launching a software application company to provide better access for people to their local farms, ranches and green thumbs around their community.
It’s no secret that mobile phones and application software are increasingly becoming the way people want to purchase goods and consume information. The Sprout application intends to match that demand with the demand for fresh, local products and community support initiatives.
Oregon has some amazing cottage food legislation for people to be able to develop an economy for their families right out of their own backyards. People can grow, bake, preserve and pickle, raise chickens and their eggs, along with a plethora of other goods to market directly to consumers. The potential economy and community building aspect of this legislation is fun and exciting.
Farms take so much risk every time they present at farmers markets with produce that often ends up going to waste. The company that we are launching here in Bend will give these small farms the ability to accept orders and bring them to the farmers market, thereby operating once a week as their own “farmstand location”. Reducing their potential losses and increasing their potential profits. Any farm operating a CSA program can utilize the app and existing infrastructure they already have in place to increase their weekly sales.
The goal for the company is for people to have better access to better food at a better price — all the while, supporting locals. By building a marketplace that farmers can advertise their products and their business for free, I am confident that there will be real benefits for the people who work so hard and put so much love into the food they grow. I really hope that people are willing to give this product a try and to support local agriculture businesses and people within their community. My efforts over the summer will be trying to onboard as many sellers to the platform as possible. The growth of this company, just like great food will take time and love. My hope is that the community is willing to grow with our product and continue to use it over the course of our first summer in Bend.
We became available for live selling as of May 1, 2019.
Our website, SproutMobileApp.com has great information for users of the application. Interested sellers can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive an automated response with a lot of necessary information, and we will reach out to you personally as soon as possible.
We will be presenting at farmers markets in Bend throughout the summer to develop relationships with sellers and buyers. We look forward to helping the community — one box of vegetables at a time.
photos courtesy of Sprout