Okay, so the reason I’ve been slacking with posting here in the past week or so is due in part to a rather big project that I’ve been working on with my friend Danny Williamson. Before I get into all of that, let me give you a bit of back story.
Early last year Danny and I sat down to talk. During the course of our conversation we began to discuss the idea of community problems and how we – as citizens – might be able to do something about them. We weren’t talking, for example, about how we could solve world hunger or stop global warming in the global sense. But we were talking about taking a step in the right direction in our own community. We might not be able to solve hunger on a global scale, but we could address it locally. The idea being that every step, no matter how small, was a step in the right direction.
We left the conversation energized and looking for a local issue to tackle. Eventually we met with the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship on campus. That meeting turned out to be exactly what we needed. Within an hour of chatting with them, Danny and I knew what we were going to do. Over the course of several months, and after several more meetings with the Institute, things began to take shape.
In early September (2012) I met the students in my 3rd year course – CIS3750 Systems Design and Analysis in Applications. It was then that I presented to them their course project. To my amazement, they jumped on the idea. And because of them, and all of their hard work, we are close to launching this thing.
So what exactly is this thing?
It’s called Farm To Fork. It’s an open-source website that we are aiming to launch in September of this year. The idea is to increase the quality and quantity of food being donated to the local emergency food service providers, like the food banks and food pantries. To do this, we needed to facilitate communication between those of us with the ability to donate, and those of us who collect food for those who need it most.
Part of the solution was as simple as providing the emergency food service providers closest to where we live, with the ability to let us know what they need through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, text message, or an email. Think of it this way – how likely would you be to pick up an extra head of lettuce, a bunch of bananas, or even a bag of apples if you knew before you went shopping that the food pantry down the street needed it? I’m thinking for most of us, it’s a no-brainer.
Of course, the website will do more than just connect us with the food banks and food pantries. It will also provide communication tools for food producers (i.e. farmers) who might have produce they wish to donate.
Danny and I are confident that this is part of a better solution. While it won’t solve the hunger problem, it’s a step in the right direction. And if it works in Guelph, it may work elsewhere. And that’s a really cool thought.
Between now and launch date there are still many things to do. Of course, I will keep you posted on progress. And for those who wish to know more info, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter (@Farm_2_Fork), or check out our blog.
Before closing out this post, it’s important to note that this wasn’t a Dan and Danny project alone. This project required collaboration with the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, the Guelph-Wellington Food Access Working Group, and 30 highly dedicated 3rd year students. This project is a testament to their ability, determination, and kick-ass-awesomeness. If you need something designed – you really should call them.