It’s no secret that fresh produce straight from the farm can often beat the potato skins off of its supermarket counterpart — and why farmer’s markets are becoming increasingly popular. But unless you set aside that chunk of time every weekend to pick up your veggies from local growers, you’re probably stopping by your supermarket anyway.
The solution to this has been the emergence of Community Supported Agriculture programs, where members of the community agree with farmers to purchase a certain amount of produce, and then pick that food up at local dropoff points at regular intervals. But, while they’ve been around for decades, these programs aren’t necessarily easy to find or use. If only we could use technology to make things a bit more efficient…
Today, a service called Farmigo is launching as part of the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield, and it’s looking to make these CSAs more accessible, more popular, and more efficient — disrupting the way you set about buying your produce.
The site is essentially a platform for discovering, signing up for, and sharing CSAs. You can browse local dropoff points, viewing which foods each food producer is delivering. After choosing your producer and the items you want, you sign up for a regular subscription, which allows the producer to plan ahead. You can see an example dropoff listing here (it’s for Google’s office, which three producers use as drop-off points).
Farmigo is also using a ‘tipping point’ model (as popularized by Groupon), where you need a minimum number of participants before you’re able to create a new CSA in your area (if you don’t have enough people, it isn’t worth the farmers’ while). The company believes this fact will help the service spread virally — just like Groupon, users have an incentive to get their friends to sign up.
And, aside from getting fresh food and supporting local growers, the site also says that you’ll typically save 20% to 30% off supermarket prices. Farmigo makes money by charging a 2% transaction fee for each order/subscription.
As a special offer, Farmigo says that the first 100 TechCrunch readers to create a dropoff point (and get enough friends to join so that it passes the tipping point) will get their produce free for a year. To get in ont eh deal, sign up, then put ‘TechCrunch’ in the comments section. Note that you have to create a dropoff point, not just join one.
Tony Conrad: Margins in grocers is small, how do you get scale?
A: We’re seeing 40,000 families receiving produce today. Multiplying 4x each year. Farmers are getting much more money for their goods when they sell this way… We take a transaction fee of what’s coming through the system.
Wendy Lee: I agreed with the OpenTable analogy.
Brad Garlinghouse: Very impressed by the website. Thing that gives me pause, for so many people habitual behavior is that grocery store is not as good, but pretty good. I come away thinking this is pretty cool, not convinced it’s 10x improvement.
A: Airbnb, you could have said the same thing.
Stephen Messer: CSAs are complex. If I’m signing up have to find where it is, what’s going to be where.
A: You as the user find one location, for that location you can see exactly what the pricing is and what you’re going to be getting.