Roadmaps and Change logs

How do you have your say over the future of Bucky Box?

 

Roadmap

 

We want to spare you the technical jargon when it comes to software design and development, but we do highly value your feedback to help us build world class software for local food. Software for you.

 

Soon we will be releasing our change log which will help you keep tabs on the various improvements, fixes and updates that go on with Bucky Box week to week. Like all good new generation software, there are constant upgrades and improvements – they’re not rolled out in expensive new upgrades like Windows.

 

We have a extensive roadmap of features we would like to add to improve Bucky Box, but we still listen intently to what our community has to say – whether you’re a current customer, or someone looking to use Bucky Box in the future.

 

You can have your say in our Ideas Forum here.

 

We use the Ideas Forum to get your ideas and keep you updated on their progress, but also to allow our community to vote on them to help us prioritise those which help people the most. We highly recommend you jump in there and vote on other people’s ideas and have your own say.

 

We will be listening to your feedback and meshing it with our own knowledge gained from hundreds of conversations with local food entrepreneurs and distributors from around the world, to bring you the best possible software solution for local food.

 

Go to the Ideas Forum and share your ideas for Bucky Box now!

Tips for Local Food #3 : Creative Funding – finding new & innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise

As part of our series on Top Tips for Local Food Distribution, we’re diving a little deeper into each of the 5 tips we gave. This week is ‘Creative Funding’ – finding new & innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise.

Bucky Box - helping you find new & innovative ways to fund local food enterprise

 

You can also check out ‘#1 : Get Social – a guide to new media for local food‘ & ‘#2 : Call on Existing Resources & Support – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants‘.

 

Finding it hard to find the capital to get your local food enterprise off the ground? Want to scale up your business, but finance is a barrier?

 

Here’s our first guide to creative funding paths for local food enterprises, which we think may help you find a path away from the loan sharks & corporate banks, to an exciting future of local food funding.

 

You may remember we wrote a blog off the back of National Good Food Network’s webinar about funding local food.  This is still a great resource for a variety of creative ways to fund local food enterprise, so we’re re-posting the slideshow below.  However, this blog is the follow up with some fresh new ideas from our research in this space too.

 

Local Food Funding Webinar Round-up

[<a href=”http://storify.com/buckybox/local-food-investment-webinar” target=”_blank”>View the story “Local Food Investment Webinar – National Good Food Network” on Storify</a>]<br /> <h1>Local Food Investment Webinar – National Good Food Network</h1> <h2>A webinar hosted by @ngfn on innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise.More information at the National Good Food Network here: http://bit.ly/y7TKRg</h2> <p>Storified by Bucky Box · Sun, Aug 05 2012 21:27:10</p> <div>Youngfarmers</div> <div>Find out how the USDA supports local and regional food systems. Free webinar TODAY 3:30p ET 12:30p PT http://bit.ly/y3qVhDNatl Good Food Netwk</div> <div>’Cutting Edge Ways to Fund your Food Business’ #NGFNwebinar on now http://bit.ly/w07Ggl – thanks @ngfn!Bucky Box</div> <div><b><i>You can see the FULL webinar video here now too:</i></b></div> <div>Cutting Edge Ways to Fund Your Food Business – an NGFN webinarwallacecenter</div> <div><b>Check out the live-tweeted round-up here too:</b></div> <div>Study & Support of #FoodHubs – resource coming soon from USDA & Wallace Centre http://foodhub.info #NGFNwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>USDA Unveils New Food Hub Resource Guide to Expand Market …Apr 20, 2012 … CHICAGO, April 20, 2012 ? The U. S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the first Regional Food Hub Resource Guide, bol…</div> <div>Food Hub Center — National Good Food NetworkBuilding Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and … Check out the Regional Food Hub Resource Guide, a new …</div> <div>Panelist & speaker Michael Shuman is introduced to the webinar audience of around 80 people from around the country (and world in Bucky Box’s case!)<br></div> <div>Michael Shuman (economist & author) – ‘Local $, Local sense’ : the importance of #investment in #food. Webinars coming up! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Information from NGFN:<br><span style=”font-style: italic;”>Drawing from his new book, “Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street,” Michael Shuman will explain a dozen, low-cost strategies local businesses are using to secure new capital from the general public.  He will talk about specialized bank CD programs, prepurchase deals, new-generation cooperatives, internet sponsorship sites (like Kickstarter), P2P lenders (like Prosper and Kiva), community lending circles, investment clubs, municipal bond schemes, local revolving loan funds, direct public offerings, and local stock exchanges.  He also will report on the latest news of a crowdfunding reform bill – sponsored by Tea-Party Republicans but endorsed by the Obama Administration – that is working its way through Congress and could literally make trillions of dollars of new capital available to local business.</span></div> <div>www.postcarbon.org</div> <div>$103m to relocalise food in Boulder, but #local people can fund this with a fraction of our savings & securities. #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Economic impact of moving 25% of food to #local: 1899 jobs, $81m in wages, $138m local gdp – in Boulder County alone! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>’A tiny fraction of national long term capital is invested in local markets’. Shift $ from Wall St to Local! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>AGREED! Software being one! "Many efficiencies discovered in current food system that are not contrary to Good Food." #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>The Local Food investment tips start rolling in from Michael Shuman….<br></div> <div>Investment in Local Food: 1) Speciality Deposits (CD’s) http://trib.al/43JZ5Y #investment #food #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Specialty Deposits – Deposit Services – Citizens Business BankWith CDARS, you can access FDIC protection on multi-million dollar CD investments through Citizens Business Bank. There are few guarant…</div> <div>1) Speciality Deposits: Alternative Credit Union CENTS http://trib.al/Et7k9d #ngfnwebinar #investmentBucky Box</div> <div>Alternatives.org: Business CENTS – Alternatives Federal Credit UnionWhether you are at the starting stages or have been in business for years, Business CENTS can help. Business CENTS is a comprehensive s…</div> <div>Investment in Local Food: 2) Co-op Investment – lighter & easy to get off the ground #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Cooperatives take up the next 5 minutes or so – seem like quite the possibilities in this space.<br></div> <div>#Co-ops are amazing. It’s official. Food Hub with Co-op backing anyone? #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>International Year of Cooperatives Video Clip 2012uncoopsyear</div> <div>2012 International Year of Co-operatives | Welcome to the official …A key aim of the International Year is to raise public awareness of the co- operative business model. In the media section you can find …</div> <div>Carrying on with the tips…</div> <div>3) LION – local investment opportunity network – Local Food enterprises can apply! #investment #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>The Concept | Lion InvestingWe know it's important to “buy local.” What if we could also invest locally? LION – the Local Investment Opportunities Network – co…</div> <div>Local Food Investment tip #4: Sponsorship – get in on the @kickstarter crowdfunding revolution! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>KickstarterKickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects.</div> <div>Haha, "The electronic Mohammad Yunus" Local Food Investment tip #5: e-Lending – get in on @kiva action! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Kiva – Loans that change livesMake a loan to an entrepreneur across the globe for as little as $25. Kiva is the world's first online lending platform connecting …</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #6 ‘Slow Munis’ – Municipal Bonds http://trib.al/lHzWn8 #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Municipal bond – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaA municipal bond is a bond issued by an American city or other local government , or their agencies. Potential issuers of municipal bond…</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #7 Pre-Sales – Get your money up front to aid growth! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Food $ tip #8 Local Stock: locally raised funds for local projects http://trib.al/wV2kns #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Stock take of new legislation bills related to Crowdfunding – as backed by Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street.<br></div> <div>Pending legislation in US could open up a whole realm of new securities to Local Food if #crowdfunding legislation goes thru! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Food $ tip #8: Local Stock Exchanges – Hawaii might be first off the rank! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Stock Exchanges and National StimulusLocal Stock Exchanges and. National Stimulus. Michael Shuman. Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Since the global financial …</div> <div>Local Food Investment tip #9: Investment Clubs like @SlowMoney & @SlowMoneyNYC #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Slow Money: Investment strategies appropriate to the realities of the …What it means to be an investor in the 21st century, promoting principles of soil fertility, sense of place, and cultural, environmenta…</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #10: Self Directed IRA (there’s even a "For Dummies" book for it!) #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Tax Advantages of Day Trading Through Self-Directed IRAs – For …Much of the tax hassle associated with day trading is eliminated if you trade through a self-directed Individual Retirement Arrangement…</div> <div>So the big question: "When the 1st $1trillion shifts from Wall St, what would you do for local food with a portion of it?" #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Prepare for the next stockmarket crash as everyone shifts their investment into local channels.Sustaination</div> <div>Food Hubs were talked about a fair bit as a shifting trend to open up new markets for CSA’s and local growers.  Check out http://foodhub.info to jump to the Wallace Centre’s resource portal for Food Hub information!<br></div> <div>Csrwire</div> <div>Food Hubs – Viable Regional Distribution Solutions – an NGFN webinarwallacecenter</div> <div>Big excitement about #FoodHubs from Michael Shuman as future of local food on #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Staticflickr</div> <div>I think Sustaination might have to bring our early investment offer forward.. over excited by #ngfnwebinar — thanks @buckyboxSustaination</div> <div>Michael Shuman opens the webinar to questions.  He explains investment into Food Hubs could be a prudent move at the moment.  We also ask about investment in technology for Food Hubs…<br></div> <div>Afraid we disagree on that one! ‘Most useful basis for software in local food is redeploying old technology’ what do u reckon @sustaination?Bucky Box</div> <div>@buckybox if you *can* re-use old software, then obviously do that. But there’s *always* room for necessary innovation #foodtechSustaination</div> <div>@Sustaination I’ve not seen too many VegeBox schemes operating SAP tho. Is #Tech moving too fast to deploy old tech for emerging industries?Bucky Box</div> <div>@buckybox barcode scanners, cheap gsm cell phones for remote data capture… all useful old tech which can be used.Sustaination</div> <div>@Sustaination True, simple smart phones & tablets will have a big role in the emerging decentralised food system. Time to make it happen.Bucky Box</div> <div>NZ Social Enterprise Bucky Box to Simplify Distribution for – SeedstockJan 16, 2012 … Bucky Box is a Wellington, New Zealand-based social enterprise dedicated to building software to improve the world&#39…</div> <div>BuckyBox: Helping Farmers Get Fresh Food To Your Table – Co.ExistCommunity supported agriculture and other farm-to-consumer schemes potentially offer a great way for independent farmers to compete in …</div> <div>Software firm focuses on helping small organic farms | Springwise3 days ago … Founded by one of the entrepreneurs behind Ooooby – which we covered back in 2010 – New Zealand-based Bucky Box is a sof…</div> <div>Study on shifting 25% of food to Local systems can be found here (PDF): http://trib.al/eoufudBucky Box</div> <div>Great stuff @NGFN, TY for the webinar, really interesting & helpful! Report to follow here: http://trib.al/T2EFXN #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Ditto! RT @buckybox: Great stuff @NGFN, TY for the webinar, really interesting! Report to follow here: http://s.coop/aorx #ngfnwebinarSustaination</div> <div>Check out more of National Good Food Network & Wallace Centre’s work here:<br></div> <div>Welcome — Wallace CenterWelcome to Wallace Center</div> <div>Welcome to your National Good Food Network — National Good Food NetworkThe National Good Food Network is bringing together people from all parts of the rapidly emerging good food system – producers, buyers, d…</div> <div>Check out more of Michael Shuman’s work here:<br></div> <div>Cutting Edge Capital – Creative Capital Raising for Your Business » About UsJenny has over fifteen years of experience as an attorney for and creator of social enterprises. She has raised funds for and launched a …</div> <div>THE BUSINESS ALLIANCE FOR LOCAL LIVING ECONOMIES | BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living EconomiesDansko Stepping up its U.S. Footprint (posted on Mar 15 2012) Philadelphia Inquirer The Dansko shoe company strives to manufacture their …</div> <div>Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael H. Shuman – Chelsea GreenLocal Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman probes the future of investing — making the case for investors to put their money into buil…</div> <div>Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street – Michael Shumanargusfest</div>Cooperatives & Community

There’s something about local food enterprise which shouts cooperation to us, and if there’s one thing we can learn from nature about feeding a geographical area / community / neighbourhood, then it’s that competition & cooperation can be utilised together for greater outcomes.

 

2012 is the year of the Cooperative, and there’s plenty of examples, events & resources about how you can use co-operative models in your local neighbourhood to either get started, or raise capital for expansion. Check out the Food feed over on the Cooperative-2012 site for more gems, including a series of ebooks on using Cooperative Models to create a better food system. There’s also lots of great examples over on NGFN’s food hub site.

 

The basic idea goes:

  1. Gather interest from your neighbourhood – leaflet the town!
  2. Establish the cooperative funding model – tell people how they can invest
  3. Create a funding opportunity & cast the net – tap your networks for interested investors & engage them in your opportunity
  4. Fulfill your cooperative investment opportunity – use the money to get started / grow & return profits to the investors.
Grants & Seed Funding

Governments, charities, philanthropists & other funders around the world are waking up to the potential for investment & philanthropic seed funding for local food enterprise.  Whether you’re an individual, community organisation or social enterprise, there’s lots of options with a little research.

 

Focusing primarily on US & UK (where the financial landscapes are most developed for local food) we have picked out the best guides & examples;

USA

UK

We’re aware of some great programs in UK which offer support & financial packages for food funding. Take a look at Local Food Grants, and Making Local Food Work.

 

If you’re looking for something outside of these regions, as people frequently are, we suggest starting with your National/Regional Government body which looks after Agriculture & Food, and then deploying the power of Google or Twitter to find local grants or support.

 

Crowd Power

Unless you’ve been avoiding the internet for the last couple of years, there’s a chance you would have heard of the ‘Power of the Crowd’ in some shape or form.  This is an emergent space where new offerings are popping up and disappearing all the time (mainly because if you don’t have a crowd, the idea wont work!).

 

Many people will be familiar with websites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Pozible, PledgeMe and more. These are the fore-runners in the Crowdfunding revolution which follow a fairly simple formula;

  • Create a Project & write a creative introduction / post a video to entice people to support you.
  • Offer Rewards – at the time of writing, there’s financial & legal barriers to offering anything more than a ‘pledge’ to support the project.
  • Get Social – share share share with your networks to spread the word you’re looking for help to get started / scale up.
  • Crowdfund! If people believe in your idea & like your rewards, they pledge money. Simple and incredibly effective.  If your project hits the target, you get the money, the pledgers get their rewards, and the world gets another project which may not have happened otherwise.
Crowfunding can be used to remarkable effect, and stories of $10k projects being funded three or four times over are not uncommon.  There’s been some successful projects related to local & community food projects, but we believe the various sites out there could be used much more for local food start ups!  Not only do you get the money, you usually also get heaps of buzz, a ready-to-go customer base, and passionate advocates who follow your progress & delight in hitting your target with you!

 

Recently, Slow Money launched Credibles; a crowdfunding investment system which returns food instead of money, this US based system has the potential to be replicated around the world.  Also launched in the last month, Three Revolutions, a crowdfunding platform dedicated totally to food.

 

We have also seen a revolution bubbling around the world in ‘Crowd Investment’ through sites such as Crowdcube. This is worth keeping an eye on!

 

As ever, these guides are a work in progress. If you’ve had success / seen someone else be successful with funding their local food enterprise beyond sharks & pounds of flesh – we’d love to hear from you! Comment or Tweet!

Sustainable Food Summit – Vision of a Future Food System

*This blog was republished in part on Food+Tech Connect as ‘How Technology will decentralise the global food system’, Fair Food Network and Sustaination’s “3rd Industrial Revolution”.

 

How do we create a food system which is sustainable in the face of growing population pressures, changing weather patterns, declining natural resources, and a sharp decline in soil health?

A summit to co-create the future of the food system in Australia, and indeed around the world

This is one of the questions we held, when we recently headed to the shores of Australia to attend the National Sustainable Food Summit in Sydney, to hang out with some of the visionaries who are engaged in the dialogue of how the future of Australia’s food system will play out.

 

The summit was re-convened after last year’s successful meeting which brought people from around the country to listen to key note speakers, and engage in workshop sessions to talk about & co-create the future.

 

Several of the attendees were live tweeting the event on the hashtag #FoodSummit & #SFS12, and a Storify was being built as the event progressed: you can check it out here.

 

Asides from the fascinating conversations, great connections & pretty tasty conference food, there was a fair few insights into where the food system would be moving over the course of the next 20 years or so, and it’s our recollection of these insights we want to try and capture for you:

  • The food system, much like other industries around the world, is one of the next major industries that will become decentralised thanks to the web, peer-to-peer trading, and as a response to 30 years of legacy which has served financial interest more than the people & planet it relies upon.
  • A flexible, resilient & sustainable food system is already emerging, and with software & other food tech as a catalyst, is going to emerge even more rapidly. It will form a meshed web reaching around the world, of localised food systems within a bigger global food system.
  • The food system of the future will be complex – made up of traditional agriculture, urban agriculture, small-scale farms, bio-domes, vertical growing spaces, hydroponics, backyard gardening, community gardening, and more.
  • Organic Farming can feed 10 billion people, and small-scale sustainable agriculture is the way it will happen. Several recent reports, including one from the UN Special Rapporteur have identified this, and there is a growing focus on ecological / biological farming methods.
  • We will have to shift from the 99% industrialized food system we currently have globally, as resource pressures (peak oil & the likes) will mean current techniques will continue to push the cost of food up.  The transition may not be easy for all concerned, those with vested interests in keeping the status quo are likely to resist, but they will be swept away if they do not change (see changes in Music Industry!).
  • Huge advancements can be made as we shift to a decentralized food system, especially in the area of food & resource waste, which accounts for the main reason for current artificially high prices.  In 2010 we produced enough food to feed c.12 billion people, we just wasted a large portion of it.
  • Remove the ‘squeeze’ caused by the Food Distribution ‘profit centre’, and we will ease the financial, environmental & social strain currently put on food production & consumption.
  • Local & Regional food economies will be rejuvenated with a new set of values based on more than profit, beginning with the foundations that People & Planet should be at the centre of the food system, with Money/Profit playing the role of social exchange lubricant rather than sole economic measurement.
  • The emergence of vege box schemes, CSA’s, co-ops, buying groups & food hubs are all proving the future path of the food system right now. Software is a major lever of change to catalyse these forms of enterprise.
  • More farmers will be needed and more small-scale distributors.
  • The future food system will have a much greater transparency & traceability from Farm to Fork, enabled by food tech.

There were of course many many more, but these are some of the strongest trends that we heard at the conference.

 

The early keynote by Jeremy Rifkin was one of the talks which set a lot of the context for the conference, and whilst it’s fairly lengthy – there’s some great insights into economic trends which are worth a watch.

Take a look at more of the notes, podcasts, videos & other Food Summit resources collated by the 3 Pillars Network.

 

The summit felt like a positive reinforcement for a project we’ve already committed to, a great learning experience to push the boundaries of our knowledge, and a great opportunity to share space with so many other who had a similar vision of a decentralised food system.  We’re really excited by some of the projects which are happening around Australia, and indeed around the world as we speak – one of the blogs which we follow regularly is Food+Tech Connect which showcases some of the most exciting Food Tech projects in the States (and a few like us, outside). Make sure you read the ‘Hacking The Food System’ articles.

 

We recently spoke at the Changemakers Convention in Christchurch, New Zealand, where people from around the country outlined their passions, visions & actions in their chosen area of interest.  We spoke about “Food Security & Resilience in an Uncertain Future”, which led us to deliver a ‘state of the nation’ of how our food system currently teeters, some examples of food system fragility (largely taken from our blog about disasters & resilience), and the bright future that is emerging with technology enabling new ways for our food system to thrive.

 

For now, it’s back to work on supporting our fantastic beta customers, and spreading the word to more local food distributors who might make use of our system – please feel free to share with your networks if you might know someone who would like to change the food system for the better!

Mapping a peer-to-peer food system of the future

Disasters, Reflections & Resilience

Reflecting back on 2011, you don’t get very far without thinking of the various disasters that seem to have been hitting us in waves this year.

Image courtesy of CPL Janine Fabre (http://bit.ly/rKXKnf)

Whether it was the devastation wrought by the ‘biblical’ floods in Australia, the horrific earthquakes in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Turkey & Japan, the nuclear disaster that resulted, the ferocious storms which rolled into the US, volcano ash disrupting world travel, famines threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands, epic floods in Asia, or the man made disasters like the Rena Oil Spill.  It’s been a year with a lot of hurt around the world.

Even look just here in NZ, things seem to have been somewhat topsy turvy – the fall out from the Christchurch Earthquake is still ongoing (including a total rebuild of the central business district which is the heart of the city), there are still volunteers on the beaches cleaning up the oil spill, and we’re still wondering how there was snow falling in central Wellington.

One thing we’ve learned is that all of these events seem to affect our food system.  When the snow fell, we found the shelves were bare.  When the earthquake hit, we found supermarkets took weeks to get back up & running.  When the floods hit QLD, we heard stories of people isolated with no food.

Image courtesy of hugovk http://bit.ly/uULdCa

What we learnt, is that our current food system is remarkably fragile.  We learnt that in an emergency, we can’t rely on supermarkets for our food as they have complicated supply chains. What we learnt is that people looked inward to their communities for help and support.

Disasters and times of extreme stress show us the true state of our resilience, and all over the world, we were found lacking.

The strongest calls we’ve had for our software, here in NZ, are from those who have seen and experienced these events first hand.  The calls have come from community groups have formed as the dust settles in Christchurch, they’ve come from entrepreneurs who managed to get food direct from farms to customers when the snow blocked roads, and they’ve come from people involved in the transition movement who see our food system is built on a fuel source which will soon run out.

So, would you like some specifics?

Queensland Floods, Australia – food chains were trucking food around the country to aggregate supply and demand, but massively failed the population whilst leaving people hungry, pushing up food costs and polluting the atmosphere.  Part of this was due to agreements with big farms who are willing to engage in monocropping & mass production, whilst the smaller farms in the region are forced to sell direct to customers.  Thankfully, the awesome Food Connect were on hand, to source food from the local farmers, pay them a fair rate, package the food up, and get it out to their customers. Despite the ‘biblical’ floods. Hear Rob Pekin from Food Connect talking about their flood experience here.

Photo courtesy of Cliff Hanger http://bit.ly/ve5wx0

In New Zealand, when we had our intense snowfalls, farmers had smaller harvests which supermarkets & wholesalers wouldn’t take as they didn’t meet the ‘bulk purchase’ orders.  So whilst we were starved of greens in Wellington’s bigger supermarkets, one crafty team at Organic Boxes were able to take those smaller yields, and deliver them to the population through their vege box scheme.  I even heard of one of their ‘delivery drivers’ paddling boxes to people’s doors… report unconfirmed, but awesome if it’s true!  Needless to say their customers were delighted & thankful…

Photo courtesy of geoftheref http://bit.ly/syzqdb

When the earthquake hit Christchurch, people knew things weren’t going to be normal for quite some time, however frustration grew as the food distributors struggled to maintain regular service from their disparate supply chains from around the country.  In fact there were reports of food rotting in fields as food was being trucked in from around the country. Some of NZ’s largest food distributors did come to the rescue, and we credit them for that, but it highlighted just how disconnected we have become from where our food comes from, and how local food systems should work.  Several community groups have sprung up in the aftermath to tackle food resiliency in their areas as they now see that it is their own communities that will provide the answers in the aftermath of any future shocks.

So what do we see as the problems here?

  • We are not connected closely to local growers
  • As a farm, if you’re not big, you’re not wanted (by large supermarkets)
  • The food system is currently reliant on oil
  • When economics is all that drives your business, you wont necessarily go the extra yard if it doesn’t make you short term gains

Interestingly OpenIDEO recently ran a challenge with the Queensland Government around the need for local food resiliency, and there were plenty of ideas that flowed out of it.  So many in fact, that the Queensland Government were overwhelmed by the volume & complexity of the solutions.  They’re still working on a couple of the solutions, but there is plenty of inspiration there for people around the world to keep working on these issues.  I would also suggest you take a look at Food+Tech Connect which has a special interest in the intersection of Food and Technology, and how it can fuel a better food system.

Some solutions:

  • We all need a regional food economy with a variety of local food distribution enterprises which support local growers, and link them to local consumers, without the need for massive profits & power imbalances in between..
  • Be a concious consumer – think about what you buy, and where it comes from. Food is not a commodity so much as a deeply personal resource which we buy with alarming regularity. Make a choice which supports other people in the community around you.
  • Decouple ourselves from oil-based food systems, and return to mainstream organic farming. And yes, Organic Farming can feed the world, despite what the oil companies tell us.
  • Grow at home! Start with herbs, perhaps branch out to tomatoes in pots, or even a raised bed. Here’s some great tips on growing at home & sustainable living.

Do you want to know more about local food? Here’s our jargon buster if you’re keen to learn more!

Awesome pic courtesy of gregw http://bit.ly/vpjUEn

Vegetable Box Schemes, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Food Hubs & Farmers Markets… cutting through the Local Food jargon

When you spend your time with local foodies, work on the local food movement, or simply live and breathe the community food systems, you inevitably end up talking the lingo.

A self-sustaining local food initiative in Paraguay

Check out communityfoodenterprise.org

We realised that a lot of people have never actually come across the local food movement, and as such have no idea what some of these terms actually mean, so we decided to give you a bit of a glossary of local food, to explain some of the food movement’s jargon.

 

So far we’ve come across a few different types of local food enterprises, and generally they’re very much characterised by passionate individuals or communities which extol the virtues of local-ness.

 

Why? Well, to those who think a lot about this stuff, local food means a few things:

  • Local – our current food system is highly energy intensive as we move our food around large distances to meet ‘any food, any time’ expectations that supermarkets have built up. If we re-connect out food producers & consumers, then we drastically reduce the costs, environmental impacts, and energy use of our food system.  We also support our local farmers, our local economies, and really – everyone that should win, wins…
  • Fresh – the less far the food has to travel, the less need for keeping things fresh artificially, post-harvest ripening, or expensive & energy hungry cold storage. Several studies show that as soon as food is harvested, nutrients decrease – so the further the fork is from the farm, the less goodness you get from your food.
  • Natural / Good – a lot, but not all, local food enterprises are very focused on Organic food production. That means no oil-based chemical fertilisers which destroy the soil, it means no chemicals sprayed onto your food to kill insects, and of course, it therefore means no chance of those nasty chemicals entering your body because of the food you eat and lingering around doing damage to you & your family. A lot of the smaller scale farming (by which we mean those who don’t see the need for miles on miles of mono-cropping) use sustainable/regenerative farming methods – ones which ensure the soil has nutrients for years to come, rather than stripping them of their health and relying on artificial, chemical fertilisers to grow things.
  • Fair – the burgeoning Community Supported Agriculture (more about that term later) model was founded on the basis of giving the farmers a fair go. That could be guaranteeing demand (buying a ‘share’ in the year’s harvest, whatever that may be), helping out around the farm, or even paying up front so the farm doesn’t carry all the risk.
  • Direct – if you know your farmer, and they know you, do you really have the need for a supermarket? Do you really agree with the incredible profits which supermarkets are making, year on year, whilst farmers are being squeezed, and us consumers are paying higher prices too? Many people have decided to go direct, get a better deal, and support their local farmer too.
  • Community – some, not all, enterprises are based very much in their communities. Whether it’s your friendly vege box delivery scheme dropping boxes at your door with personalised recipes, community supported agriculture schemes with their skills workshops, or food hubs which seek to connect the cities a little closer to the farms which produce their food, many of them seek to bring us that little step closer to where our food comes from, how it’s grown, who grew it and why it’s important to know that.

 

So, lets have a little look at these mysterious Local Food enterprises then.

 

Vegetable Box Delivery schemes

Fresh seasonal produce deliveryHave you ever had vegetables delivered to your door? Not by a supermarket, at supermarket rates, but by someone who’s gone to the trouble to get together a box of tasty seasonal vegetables, and deliver them to you direct. They come in many forms – the ‘mystery box’, the ‘à la carte’, and ‘the hybrid’;

  • Mystery – whatever the ‘in season produce’ is, perhaps taking into account your likes & dislikes, delivered to your door – pure & simple.
  • à la carte – you get the choice of what’s in your box a bit like an online grocery store; choose from whatever seasonal produce is available that week – if you really dislike several vegetables, then this might be your best bet.
  • Hybrid – some people do a bit of a mix of the two – the majority of the box is pre-defined like a Mystery box, but you can add extra items such as organic lamb, whole milk, and fair trade coffee. The best of both worlds? Beats going to the supermarket if you ask me!

 

One of the fundamental ideas about Vege Box Schemes, is that they make life easy. You get a beautiful box of vegetable delivered to your door, without stepping foot in the bright lights of the supermarket – you can support organics / local food, without making any real changes to your life, other than buying the bulk of your weekly food (presuming you eat fruit & vegetables….) direct from a local scheme.

 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Beetroot, Carrots, Onions, Heirloom varieties at Farmers Market

Image borrowed from Crossing Borders (check out their CSA story): http://bit.ly/9WYkbt

In a nutshell, Community Supported Agriculture is about the community supporting farmers by paying for the season in advance to take the financial risk away from the farmer and help them budget. Here’s a blog from ‘Vegetables for Breakfast’ about the positives of joining a CSA.  But, every community seems to establish their CSA differently, but here some of the basic premises of the CSA model:

  • Pledge – the commitment by individuals / families to buy a share in the harvest of one or more farmers. This can have a couple of benefits; the farmer is guaranteed that they will have a buyer for their food, and the farmer knows their full-season budget so can plan accordingly. This cuts down on a lot of the ‘waste’ of the food system – no need for marketing, storage, loan repayments, reduced cost of delivery, etc!
  • Risk & Reward sharing – chew on this question – why is it ok for us to load all of the risk of a bad harvest onto the farmer? That’s a central thing the CSA model aims to address – by sharing the risks of the harvest failing, the community engaged with the farmer also stand the chance of sharing the bounty if the harvest is unexpectedly good – for no extra cost.
  • Community Involvement – many farmers yearn to have their customers understand some of their dilemmas. This system often gets the community directly involved in the farm – helping plant, harvest & maintain the crops. The community often learn skills, socialise, and enjoy the connection to environment whilst there. By having the community involved, they can also have an impact on the production methods used – hence why so many CSA’s support farms growing organics, biodynamics & even some using permaculture principles or biological agriculture principles. Often the community is also involved in the distribution – either dividing up the weekly shares and delivering to friends, or all swinging by a central location to pick up their own lot.

 

Community Supported Fisheries (CSF)

Flickr.com/thelexicon

Based on the same model as the above CSA’s, comes the Community Supported Fishery. The morals & ethics stay the same – support the food ‘producer’ and get food direct to the people.

 

CSF’s are springing up in North America, you can see some examples here:

 

Restaurant Supported Agriculture (RSA)

Here’s a new term for you, or perhaps not. But we’ve been reflecting on big buyers of food – be they cafe’s, restaurants, or even larger institutions like catering companies & food supply contractors.  If these enterprises jumped on board too, we would increase the demand for small scale agriculture massively.  Take the essentials of Community Supported Agriculture (pledge to buy harvest and risk & reward sharing) and apply it to restaurants supporting farmers – we’re in no doubt it’s already happening, but a movement could form pretty quickly around this idea.  Coalitions of willing cafes & restaurants engaging farmers for people & planet friendly food production – what a beautiful vision!

 

Food Hubs

See how local food hubs can nurture regional food systems

Check out the awesome localfoodhub.org!

Here’s on of the models we’re really enjoying watching emerging. Food Hubs.

 

A visual description of local food hubs & regional food enterprisesFood Hubs can take several forms, but they often embody the values of both CSA and Vegetable Box Schemes. Food Hubs such as Food Connect & CERES Fair Food in Australia, are modelling what a community based, fair, healthy, local, direct, sustainable food distribution service can be.

Food Hubs take the values of CSA’s – fair prices for farmers, guarantee them customers, support people & planet friendly food production methods (organic/near organic). They take the values of Vege Box schemes – easy, delivered to your door, accessible to city folk. Food Hubs mash the models together, enabling local food enterprises to take your support for planet & people friendly food to a whole new ethical & sustainable level.

 

We see Food Hubs as a key part in the puzzle when it comes to both urban and rural food distribution, whereby people can have as much or as little involvement in the farming side of things, and still get great quality produce at an affordable price.

 

Often food hubs see a key part of their job as educating their customers a little about where their food comes from – whether it’s flyers with info about the farms, stickers, or even full QR code food traceability.

 

You can find out more about Food Hubs at the National Good Food Network : Food Hub Center.

 

Farmers Markets

Farmers Markets are a rich part of the local food movement

Check out Farmers Markets NZ

When the farmers come to town, that’s when the magic happens! Farmers Markets are a delightful variety of colours, smells, tastes & textures where you can meet the farmers who produced the goods. Often the stall holders are the producers themselves – make sure you check out your local market!

 

So with all these choices, the question really only remains, which one works for you?

 

But then, there’s one more option beginning to emerge. It’s the Food Portal – a web service which connects farmers with consumers via the interwebs. Sadly these services seem to do little to bring farms & consumers closer together at the moment, but we’ll see how these develop – there’s definitely some things they could do to ensure people are still connected to their food, who produces it, how & why they use that process.

 

Food Portals

There’s various organisations popping up online & on mobile technology to take up the opportunity that new technology is enabling.  These organisations are providing mapping, connections & other resources which make local food possible, and are creating online marketplaces  where people can buy their food.  These organisations like Local Harvest, Sustaination, Real Time Farms, Locavore, and Local Harvest Australia are creating new markets for small scale farmers & urban agriculturists – exciting times.

 

All in all, there’s a remarkable amount of choice out there to get you moving towards people & planet friendly food.

There’s also some great organisations out there who are doing wonders in terms of education, advocacy & research into the local food movement. We decided early on, that we’re going to support these people – we love their work, and want to support it – though sometimes they don’t have a sustainable business model. So here’s where our Local Food Champions fund comes in : divert a percentage of our proceeds to these organisations to support their invaluable work – we call it closing the loop. Every little helps right?

Here’s our current partners:

Food Connect Foundation
Permaculture Research Institute
The Dirt Doctor
Soil & Health Association

 

So get out there, and enjoy your food & enjoy it local!

Find local food on your mobile

Check out LoveFre.sh – local food on your mobile!

Marching on!

Christmas is closing in.

Growing the greens for vege box deliveryIf you’re in the southern hemisphere like us, that means we’re coming into the bountiful summer season. It’s a beautiful sunny day today in Wellington, so we thought we’d better update you all on what we’ve been up to over the long winter.

We’ve been working hard; getting our heads around converting all the learnings, conversation, testing & experiences we’ve had with vege box schemes & food hubs.  Converting the real world problems and solutions of local food enterprise into a simple, powerful piece of software is quite tricky, but we’re feeling like we’re in a good space coming into December.

We want to get a solid base for people to work with, so it’s heads down all the way to the Christmas break for us.

Vege Box Software Founder at Community Supported FarmOn the other side of things, we’ve also been ensuring we’re still in touch with who we’re building this software for! We’ve been out to the CSA farm, talking with the fantastic Organics association in NZ, recently met the amazing Dirt Doctor, had some fascinating discussions with the effervescent Food Connect Foundation and wonderful Permaculture Institute. We’ve been out & about in Australia talking to amazing community food enterprises, community environment parks, and food rescue crews.  We’ve been involved in Urban Food discussions, shared our personal motivations, told you more about how we got involved, and watched the Occupy movement spread and reflected on it.

Recently one of our crew has been in Hong Kong, meeting some amazing & inspiring social entrepreneurs, and shared our vision with them.  They’re excited – more news on that soon!

We’ve watched, listened & got involved in #localfood & #foodtech discussions on Twitter, and enjoyed seeing the multitude of links, videos & conversations had through Facebook. We even had a fresh logo designed by the awesome Andrew Fyfe.

Oh and did we mention we won a Cleantech Award? Check the final video here:

So we look into December as a time of plenty. Plenty to build on, plenty to complete. But we’re ready and working as quick as we can to get people using Bucky Box in beta.

If you’re interested in hearing more, we’re starting up our beta list & newsletter – so sign up here!

Software built to catalyse the local food movement

#OccupyFood

It’s been a while since @OccupyWallSt kicked off, and turned things upside down around the world.

Several things about Occupy have stuck with me as we learn more about the ideals, motivations and purpose of the movement, and what it is evolving into.

I never saw that Occupy was about anti-capitalism or radical views. I saw Occupy was about Conversation. I see the movements around the world modelling a society they want to live in, about showing that consensus is possible, and that ‘inequality anywhere is a threat to equality everywhere’.

When I look at Occupy through the lens of our Food systems, I see several of the same things happening, and indeed there has been a lot of involvement from various food system educators & advocates in the discussions.

We see a crumbling system which is failing us – industrialised food is causing harm and inequality around the world to people and planet.  We see the need for a platform of robust discussion about the status quo, and conversation about what is possible.  We see that technology has changed so much, that a localised, distributed food system is possible. We see that economics are controlling a system which is much more complex than money alone.

We’re looking to see how this brighter future can be realised, and we’re seeing the Local Food Movement has already started, and is growing every day.  We see that a widescale return to organic farming is already happening (at exponential growth of 20% per year!).

We see that now is the time to take back our food system.

Not only does Bucky Box stand for a Food System which is friendly to People & Planet, but we also consider Poverty & Hunger part of our mandate. We see farmers getting a fair deal as part of our mandate.  We see food distributor accountability as part of our mandate. We see transparency for Consumer decision making as part of our mandate.

Join us in a better food system, starting today.

Bucky Box catalyses local food from Bucky Box on Vimeo.

Here’s some further takes on Occupying Food:

What is your take on the growing food movement, and how it relates to what is going on with Occupy?

What kind of a food system would you like to see in the future?

What platforms already exist to discuss how big food is impacting our people & planet?