Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Backstory

For this first blog post I think it appropriate to share a little history on the evolution of this project. The idea for SpareCrop arose out of an attempt to fix a problem. 

I moved to California roughly one year ago and noticed a few things: the sun that shone 90% of the time, unpleasant traffic, and ridiculously expensive rent. I also noticed fruit trees, especially the brightly colored citrus ones.

apples anyone
The highly visible fruit, the year round growing season--somehow this homegrown and wild produce was more apparent here than the apricot and apple trees in other places I had lived.  I often saw the fruit on the ground, rotting and contributing to food waste.

One day, I was out and about and saw a tree heavy with grapefruit. Several had fallen to the ground, but the tree was still loaded. I considered knocking on the door and asking permission to pick a couple, but it was obvious no one was home.

So I went on my way, but the thought of good fruit wasting away stayed with me, haunting my dreams, and causing torrents of tears. Well, maybe no tears, and probably little actual dream haunting, but the thought definitely lingered.

I began researching food waste. Approximately 650 lbs of food for every man, woman and child is wasted every year in North America (Gustavsson et al., p. 5). 

Excessive, right? I, too, had contributed to food waste before when I owned and operated a food truck in D.C. and it had always bothered me. 

Of course, figuring out where to start reducing food waste is a tricky business since it involves other people's beliefs and lifestyles. It occurred to me that these fruit trees might be one easy and effective area where we can reduce waste. Wouldn't people with excess produce rather share or sell it than clean it up after it rots? 

And wouldn't the average consumer like to access fresh produce that has actually ripened on the tree without having to travel far to get it? I asked what would prevent this natural exchange from happening and settled on the answer of "convenience".

From my perch in Silicon Valley AND Steinbeck country, "convenience" shouldn't be a problem. The sharing economy and the crowd sourcing movements have picked up in popularity and proven to be financially viable platforms. 

Smiley mom with her eating apple daughter Royalty Free Stock ImageSurplus home garden produce seems like an easy and obvious item to add to this market. My solution to the problem is SpareCrop: a concept that reduces waste, utilizes surplus, and delivers the freshest most flavorful produce into the hands of consumers who appreciate it--in as few steps as possible. What's not to love about that?