On The Road – Vignettes from China & Mongolia

Sam Rye, our Community Connector, writes from the road…

 

As you may know, currently I’m roving in Europe and will be heading for North America in October, and I’m looking forward to meeting interesting local producers and distributors along the way, looking at hubs of local food, and running some workshops.

 

However, I’ve always been intrigued by the land between where I was born (England), and where I now live (New Zealand).  It’s a huge swathe of the world’s crust which I have, too often, flown over – so I figured it was time to see what was in between.  I decided to travel overland with my lovely wife, back to England, via China, Mongolia, Russia and Austria.

 

I wasn’t surprised by China’s seemingly decentralised food system – a network of small grocers and entrepreneurial producers and distributors.  It stems (I was reading in National Geographic) from the fact that the last 40 years saw drastic and radical changes after the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61. Combined with a huge uptake of chemical fertilisers, reduced control by the ruling party and advancements in technology – China now has a food waste problem.

 

Here’s a couple of vignettes from my travels…

 

_DSC1095 _DSC1103

_DSC1161 _DSC1389

 

 

From the Steppe of Mongolia

 

I may not’ve been so surprised by China’s food system – a complex web of producers and distributors in the many cities, but I sure was surprised when I got to Mongolia.

 

Apparently much of Mongolia (population 2.8 million) is not suitable for agriculture. It seems strange as you roll through the huge wide open grassland areas, where nomadic people still graze cattle, yaks, goats & sheep.  However there’s an extreme climate, long winter, and low rainfall. Apparently there’s only around 100 days of the growing season.

 

Much of Mongolia’s fresh food is imported from China, but I saw potatoes and wheat being grown on the Steppe, as well as cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers / capsicums being grown in hot houses.  It seems to be a country curiously poised with little to no food security, and a huge amount of land.  Perhaps some huge opportunities for sustainable urban agriculture in the capital – Ulaanbatar?

 

Here’s a few pictures from my travels in Mongolia…

 

_DSC1682 _DSC1690 _DSC1695 _DSC1841 _DSC1992 _DSC2026 _DSC2082

 

 

See you on the other side with some pictures from Russia & Austria, before blogging from the UK & France.

 

Sam

Powering Local Food

Bucky Box - powering local food

The Bucky Box team are committed to using our energy on the most important challenge of our lifetimes.

 

 

There’s no shortage of projects, initiatives and causes where you could focus your energy these days – everywhere you look there’s industrial age systems and institutions which are crumbling.

 

In the 20th century we saw a huge focus on food production as a key to food utopia for all. With a growing population (4.4 billion to 6.1 billion between 1980-2000), some would say that was rather wise. Whilst we’ve boomed to 7 billion people and are forecast to hit 9-10 billion by 2020, we have to ask – at what cost has that focus on production had?

 

The existing food distribution infrastructure is incompatible with what we now know about the ecological and societal limits of agriculture – it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do something about it – that’s why we’re committed to powering the future of food.

 

We see food distribution as an acupuncture point in the food system – use the needle correctly and it can release a build up of pressure. Bucky Box is that needle – it’s a tool for entrepreneurs, community activators, and ethical businesses who are creating a better food system through local food enterprise.

 

We see building software for local food distributors to crush the admin burden as incredibly important – with only a small amount of talking to people running direct-to-customer delivery businesses, you’ll soon start hearing horror stories about hacked together IT systems and death-by-spreadsheet. Taking a hammer to this glass ceiling for local food enterprise is our aim.

 

Bucky Box - Powering Local Food

 

How does Bucky Box help with all this?

 

Sell Your Food

Customise and launch your online store in minutes and never drop a sale. An online store that syncs directly with your admin dashboard so you don’t have to manually pull in all those pesky email order notifications from your shopping cart. Our online store is designed from the ground-up for food businesses to engage their customers.

Bucky Box - Online Store Shopping Cart - Local Food Software

 

Manage Customers

Take the pain out of customer management with our admin console. Get a customer snapshot any time with profiles, account balances and order statuses. Nurture loyal customers with newsletters and direct email straight from your database. Be open 24/7 – customers can manage their own orders online, whatever time of the day.

Bucky Box - Easy Customer Contact and Management for Vege Box Schemes CSA and Local Food enterprises

 

Fulfill Orders

Instantly know what needs to go where, and when. Take the heavy lifting out of packing day admin with one click reports. A drag & drop interface makes delivery route planning easy.

Packing and Delivery reporting for Local Food delivery businesses

 

Easy Payments
Save time and stop trying to manually match accounts with our bulk payment reconciliation of bank transactions, cash & cheques. Ensure account balances are up to date, and your customers are happy.

Bulk Payment Reconciliation for Food Delivery Businesses

 

Interested to hear more and get to work?

[button link=”http://www.buckybox.com” target=”_blank” color=”green” shape=”rounded” size=”large” align=”center”]Sign up for a demo[/button]

 

 

Travels in Europe and North America

Calling: UK, Europe, NYC and Toronto

Black Cab - Bucky Box Travels

image courtesy of flickr/_Tophee_

We’re very excited to say that in a little over a month, we’re hitting the road to come to a town near you (hopefully!).

 

Sam, our Community Connector, will be travelling in UK, France, Austria, New York and hopefully Toronto, making time to stop in on local food distributors, entrepreneurs and hotspots of interesting local food systems.  Sam will be available to meet one-on-one, groups of local food distributors, speak at conferences, and run workshops on local food enterprise.

 

He’ll be in UK & Europe in August & September, then on into North America in September & October.

 

If you’d be keen to catch up with Sam, or put on an event, please drop us an email at sam [at] buckybox [dot] com or join one of our Google+ Events and tell us what you’re thinking!

Podcast: The Startup Challenge, Vodafone World of Difference, and Creating a Better Food System in Christchurch

Image from Stuff Media: Iain McGregor (http://bit.ly/YIkwCm)

Image from Stuff Media: Iain McGregor (http://bit.ly/YIkwCm)

What’s the day-to-day life like for a Local Food entrepreneur?

 

We thought we’d get in touch with one of The Local Food Startup Challenge entrants to find out what they’re up to, what they’re working on, and how they’re creating a better food system.

 

Garden City 2.0 logo

We got Bailey Peryman from Garden City 2.0 on the line and asked him a few questions about his work in the recovering city of Ōtautahi/Christchurch where new shoots of food resilience are starting to blossom.

 

 

 

Listen to the full podcast here:

 

 

Bailey is currently a Vodafone World of Difference scholar working for Soil & Health Association, and here’s the links to some of the projects he’s working on this year:

 

Garden City 2.0 are backed by our Local Food Startup Challenge. If you’re keen to find out whether you can benefit from the $0.5m Global Startup Fund too, check out the website, and start building your business today – you’ve got till May 6th to sign up!

Happy Holidays from Bucky Box

Bucky Box wishes you all Holiday Gretings!

It’s been a massive year for the Local Food movement around the world, and all of the team here at Bucky Box would like to wish everyone working on a better food system, a fantastic festive holiday season!

 

We’re recouping and refueling, ready for another big year in 2013 – we have some big plans on the horizon, and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you all as soon as possible.

 

We’re hugely grateful for the support and love of our partners, our friends and our families, in this past year which has had many highlights for us.  Here’s a couple of our favourite company highlights from 2012:

 

We hope you’ve all been having a fantastic holiday, and that you’ll be back at it in 2013, with even more passion, determination & creativity than before!

 Bucky Box wishes you a Happy Holiday

Tools for Local Food Distribution – designed for the other 90%

What would happen to food distribution if you provided enterprise-quality tools to the 90% of enterprises who can’t normally afford them?

[click to tweet this article]

 

Bucky Box designs for the other 90%

A little over a year ago, we posed ourselves that question. It was an interesting challenge – one of turning the problem that most local food distributors have on its head.

 

By now, most of us are aware that local food distribution has a glass ceiling – it’s about 70-80 deliveries per week where the admin burden really kicks in and stifles growth. [tweet this]

 

There’s just too much complexity to handle with spreadsheets and hacked together systems when you hit this number – you’re bound to start making errors – whether it’s making sure someone’s paid their bill, that one of the boxes should’ve had artichokes instead of carrots, or that Bob & Karen had just moved house. You know – that bit of information you scribbled on a sticky note and pinned to the wall?

 

So, the glass ceiling is really the automation of those labour intensive admin tasks – packing sheets, customer ledgers, delivery reconciliation and matching up payments.  Take away that glass ceiling, and we know that many local food schemes can grow, get more quality & healthy food to people, and be more profitable. We know this from the handful of schemes who have invested heavily in their technology and grown accordingly.

 

Back to the question – how can we change the game? How can we get more local food distribution businesses operating, serving different markets & communities, providing more demand for small farms & artisan producers? How can we shift the needle on the destructive nature of industrialised food systems? How can we bring back the food webs that existed pre-industrial food distribution? Lets call that our vision of the Food Web 2.0.

 

The answer is not simple, but it’s the challenge that we took on. It’s the challenge that we have spent well over a year working on in various forms, and it’s the challenge that we’ve got our first solution to. Bucky Box is about bringing those tools to the masses, to the other 90% – to anyone who wants to start up a food distribution business [tweet], whether it’s 20 people in their local office, 200 people at their local church, or 2000 people in their community. Simple to use. Affordable. Ready to go.

 

[click to tweet]

We’ve got some exciting news in the pipeline to get a little bit of a buzz going around Local Food distribution, as we genuinely believe decentalising food distribution is one of the most exciting challenges & opportunities in c21st. <- [tweet].

 

It’s the forefront of enabling regenerative agriculture, improving the health of ourselves and our communities, and of lifting people around the world out of poverty. <- [tweet]

 

If any of what we’ve said rings true, and you’re thinking about starting a local food enterprise, or doing what you already do – better, then drop by the Bucky Box – Software for Local Food website and sign up for a trial or just tweet us for a chat.

 

We’re looking forward to supporting you to create a better food system.

A Creative Approach to Local Food advocacy : Lexicon of Sustainability

Check out the short films from the Lexicon of Sustainability about our food system

The importance of Storytelling cannot be underplayed.  Traditionally Big Ag have had the upper-hand in the attempt to capture people’s imaginations with their deep pockets.

 

The tide is turning. The cost to craft & create quality media is leveling the playing field, and the rise of the Social Web is making us more inquisitive about where our food comes from, who is behind it, and easier to communicate what we find.

 

Awhile ago we highlighted a few of our favourite Creative capturings of the local food movement which included the very awesome Lexicon of Sustainability’s photo series which is available to exhibit as an art show.  What we didn’t know at the time is they were also making a series of fantastic videos highlighting the truth behind Big Ag’s marketing.  Take a look at the first 3 videos of this series which is available on PBS’ Youtube Channel.

 

 

Once again, make sure you head over to Lexicon of Sustainability to find more about the food that we eat, and how it is produced.