High-Tech Solution to Make Local Food Accessible

A High-Tech Solution to Make Local Food Accessible and Affordable Solving the Age Old Problem of What to Do with a Tree Full of Plums San Francisco. It’s a classic situation of incomplete information: people with fruit trees in their yards have too much and can’t find people to give it away to; yardless people covet their neighbor’s bounty.

A new online service called Neighborhood Fruit, promises to bring these two groups together and leverage Web 2.0 technologies to help people find and share fruit in their cities.

GPS Fruit SharingThe site uses GPS technology and crowdsourced information to locate fruit within users’ zipcodes, and social networking conventions to facilitate the exchange process. A reputation platform to assist users deciding who to share with and a mobile application are scheduled to be released in the near future.

Founded by young female entrepreneurs, Kaytea Petro and Oriana Sarac, the company comes along at a time when many Americans are both concerned about the source of their food while simultaneously cutting back on expenses. For a small fee, fruit seekers can participate in “Fruitfilment” and arrange for fruit exchange by quantity and type of fruit, who picks it, and location. Even more frugal users can use Google maps of trees on public lands to find local fruit, for free.

“We wanted to create something that had a positive impact on the environment but is accessible to normal, working-class people,” says Petro. “With Neighborhood Fruit, people can find fruit nearby, which significantly reduces fossil fuel and water usage per piece of fruit, while simultaneously reducing yard waste sent to landfills. In our communities, the site allows urban dwellers to access healthy food choices, providing food resilience. It’s a home run in terms of sustainability.” Co-founder Sarac adds, “designing a systemic solution allowed us to address the needs of communities while benefiting the environment through a business offering. There are many aspects of Neighborhood Fruit that are inherently sustainable making it unnecessary to brand ourselves as ‘green’”. It’s true, the company’s website (www.neighborhoodfruit.com) is awash in bright colors and cute cartoons, not the typical natural look preferred by “green” brands.

neighbourhood fruit

Neighborhood Fruit makes finding and sharing fruit seem easy and fun, which precisely how the founders want you to feel about it. The pair met at the Presidio School of Management, a sustainable MBA program located in San Francisco; the initial seed for Neighborhood Fruit was developed in Presidio’s graduation seminar. “I kept walking home from school past my neighbor’s apple tree and feeling mighty tempted to ask for some, but too ashamed to knock. Then it hit me, people either want fruit or have too much fruit, and they’re not talking to each other.” says Petro. After completing coursework in December, the pair started to build the site in January and launched it before their May graduation.

Currently, the site has over six thousand searchable trees on public lands and over a hundred registered users with fruit trees. Petro and Sarac seem to be on to something. Customer Nancy T. writes: “What a great idea this is! My husband and I rent a unit in a duplex that has an apricot tree. The first year we moved in, there were so many apricots that we were overwhelmed. We were canning, drying, making jelly.. but they were coming ripe so fast we couldn’t even pick them in time. I emailed everyone I knew inviting them to pick apricots, but it still wasn’t enough. One day I broke down in tears and hold my husband, ‘People are starving just blocks away and we can’t even get this fruit to them!’ …I just wanted a way to spread the word and get the fruit out to people (and maybe save us some picking and clean-up time in the process!).”

Visit Neighborhood Fruit today!

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