About this project
CitySprout: A Distribution Revolution
Bringing farm fresh food from the country into neighborhoods in the city.
If Community Supported Agriculture collaboratives and farmers markets had a baby, CitySprout would be it! We want to change how U.S. cities get their food by putting city-dwellers in direct contact with farmers from surrounding areas. With CitySprout, we can bypass the complex distribution networks and wholesalers, and create a more convenient, affordable, healthy, and environmentally friendly market for urban communities to get their produce, dairy and meat.
One of the realities we face is that where there are farms there are few people, and where there are many people, there are seldom any farms. Unfortunately, for people living in the city, the options for locally grown, farm-fresh food are slim, and come with many constraints. Farmer’s Markets are only open on specific days, in specific places; CSA’s are not only inconveniently located, but many require a full prepayment for an entire season’s worth of goods. This is unfortunate for those who feel that they only need a fraction of the amount of food given, and are interested in farm fresh food on an as-needed basis.
We will provide a
marketplace to expand the reach of rural farms and close the distance between
urban customers and food producers. In addition to everything mentioned above, CitySprout is a more environmentally friendly alternative to
traditional U.S. food distribution and transportation.
How CitySprout Works
Step 1: Head to CitySprout’s website and select your region. You will see several times and drop-off locations that you may choose from. For example, if you live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you may see that there are several drop-off locations spread throughout the borough; one for each day of the week.
Step 2: Select the share that is most appealing to you based on price, food selection, time and location. You will immediately be presented with information regarding the participating farm making that particular delivery, as well as imagery and descriptions of that share’s food items. From there making your purchase is as easy as one click.
Step 3: Once enough people have bought in to trigger your chosen delivery, you will receive an email confirming your purchase which will include a code which will be used when picking up your order. On the day your share is delivered, you will be sent an email reminder. After that it’s simply a matter of meeting the CitySprout truck at the stated time and location, receiving your share in an easy, reusable CitySprout box, and enjoying your food.
For the consumer:
- Location: City living is no longer a barrier to participating in community supported agriculture.
- Convenience: No more long, troublesome commutes to your not-so-local farmer’s market or CSA. We help your food come to you. With multiple farms competing for multiple times and locations in your neighborhood, there is always a convenient drop-off available.
- Membership: With CitySprout there is no need to prepay for an entire season. You can buy a share one week when you need to, and skip a week when you don’t.
For the farmer:
- Growth: CitySprout farms are no longer restricted by the size of their local community. Our farms are given the opportunity to grow, produce more food, and sell at a larger volume.
- Fair compensation: In appealing to an urban market, farmers can sell their food at a higher volume than in their rural community, while offering city dwellers a more affordable option by selling at competitive rates.
- Sustainability: Agricultural production, distribution, and transportation as they are currently practiced in the U.S. has many negative social and environmental impacts. American food distribution is highly centralized, the amount of stops a simple tomato makes from the farm to your plate is enormous, with each stop requiring, trucking, refrigeration, packaging, handling etc. The carbon footprint for U.S. food distribution alone is staggering. CitySprout’s model decentralizes food distribution and drastically reshapes the way food gets to your plate, significantly reducing carbon emissions by minimizing the distance your food has to travel to get to you.
- Value: Participating farms will earn a greater profit with CitySprout than they stood to make either through merely selling to their local communities or through dealing with wholesalers and distributors. At the same time, CitySprout customers can enjoy healthy, local food at a price they can finally afford.
CitySprout improves how we buy and sell our food
We envision CitySprout becoming one of the nation’s largest food distribution networks. A CitySprout operating in every major city in the United States will radically reshape food distribution on an economic, social and environmental level. By creating a frictionless marketplace between farmers and large urban demographics, CitySprout will drastically reduce the carbon footprint caused by more traditional means of food distribution. In making locally grown food available on this scale, CitySprout will improve national health and dietary nutrition. Most importantly, CitySprout will give privately owned, polycultural farms a chance to thrive and again take their rightful place as a true backbone to the U.S. economy.
What you are funding:
We currently need to raise at least $25,000 dollars to fund the following:
Website Development: For CitySprout to function properly we will have to deploy a user-friendly website to properly organize our farmers, consumers, and drop-off locations.
PR and Marketing: Getting the initial word out about CitySprout will be no small task. Funds will go towards marketing efforts both on the web and in print, as well as promotional events.
So is this basically an online CSA where consumers don't have any control over what produce a farmer may or may not send them?
Not quite, and here's why: farmers list the contents of their weekly shares on the CitySprout website, the quantity, and any other pertinent information (like recipe ideas using the specific contents of that share). Consumers will be able to see what the shares have to offer and make a decision as to which farm to purchase from.
Each farmer is designated a specific pickup location in the city; thus, there may be several different locations available in the consumer’s region. That allows for the opportunity to view and select from a variety of different shares and farms.
Initially we are looking to start in Boston and New York City, but we are aiming to add new regions based on demand. We are going to take the geographical information from those who pledge our Kickstarter campaign and use that to start quantifying the demand in other cities.
Each of the farms that we have reached out to who are willing and able to participate are either Certified Organic through the USDA or are Certified Naturally Grown, which is a peer reviewed certification. As the service grows, our mission will be to build a community of both farmers and customers with sustainability as the common goal that bonds them. CitySprout is a marketplace where people will be able to connect and share their thoughts, needs, opinions, and ideas with the community. Consumers will be able to contact us, the farmers, and one another via the site to express themselves. They will be able to provide feedback in the form of farm/share ratings, and reviews.
At the moment we do not have a firm percentage, but from the initial “number crunching” we have done thus far, we anticipate taking 10-15% of the sale price of each share to cover operations and staffing.
The majority of profits made from share sales will be to sustain staffing and technology demands in providing this service. Long-term goals, while still very open-ended, will include funneling funds back into agricultural and other green sustainability initiatives.
CitySprout is a marketplace. Ultimately, pricing, quality of food available and consumer reviews of farms will allow certain farmers to stand out in the crowd and define the balance of the supply and demand.
Any farm that is within a 3-4 hour drive of any metropolitan area will be able to petition CitySprout to activate a new location or region. The online community of city-dwelling food buyers will decide on their own what shares they want to buy and for what price, so it is imperative that the farmer provides a product that is compelling at a reasonable price.
We eventually want to (gently) push towards the direction of limiting the number of shares a farm can sell to around 150 per week. This should avoid the industrial size farming operations from monopolizing our system. We aim to cater more to the sustainable, organic, and environmentally friendly food producers.
- (60 days)