Access to Fresh, Sustainably Grown, and Organic Food

Benjamin Smith, Managing Partner

Imagine a website / app where you can instantly search for a specific food product and know immediately, what stores, vendors, and direct-to-consumer farmers and producers are available nearby...

With Organic Nearby, farmers and food distributors can enter product in seconds, and their offerings are immediately available to anybody nearby, using GPS capabilities in their smart phone. Further, even grocery stores and similar providers are included!

We don't think there's any telling just how far this idea will go.

Partner June Swatzell came up with the idea to answer the underserved need of a strong connection between farmers and consumers using an app and GPS Location Awareness.

What need is more primal than the food we eat?

When I saw her presentation, I loved it, and contacted her immediately. She had created a "zero-code" MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that showed the concept masterfully.

Our first task was to build a series of scraping tools to allow for extracting data from various sources online. The data was aggregated into a preview "staging site" that allowed for review of the data prior to loading it into the MVP.

As of this writing, the preview site has been upgraded into a Beta that is being reviewed for replacing the the MVP, which provides far more solid infrastructure, scaling ability, and integrated account management that includes locally entered data as well as data scraped from many other sources online.

Some Interesting Problems Solved

  • Location Awareness - it's not difficult to write a little javascript to get a GPS location from a user's browser. What's more challenging is mapping a street address to a GPS location. Most of all, combining the numerous sources into a database and writing the detailed queries so that it performs quickly and accurately.

  • Unblended Data Streams - We are gathering data from numerous sources and it's not uncommon for different sources of data to reflect the same person or account. For example, we might gather data from a Farmer's Market, and a farmer might also log in and update or add their own information.

    How to keep track of these changes?

    We're using a technique called "data stream isolation" in order to keep all the different sets of data separate and use algorithms to provide a sensible, accurate picture of what information is available.

  • Dynamic Customer Home Pages - We want to allow for a heavily customizable experience for farmers and food producers while maintaining a rigorous security model.

    The event-driven framework in use allows for catching events like "page not found" and inserting a check to see if a customer page is being referenced. This allows for short, easily remembered address to be used without having to do custom programming. EG:

The process of implementing these ideas borrowed heavily from code written for Air Lot.