(Please note: Vegsy was formerly known as ‘Online marketplace’)

What’s your idea?

To bring together people who grow food in their home, allotment, small holding or farm with people who want to buy locally produced, natural, wholesome foods. Provide an easy to use, online marketplace.

What is the social need or challenge your idea could address?

Farmers markets are far too expensive, and mostly available in upper-market areas. Low supply in this market and high demand for only premium produce creates an exclusive, high priced market.

Supermarkets do not reward farmers. Products are produced to very high consumer standards where the ‘naturalness’ of grown products are sacrificed in return for shelf life and appearance. Farmers do not have direct access to consumers, where they would be able to get greater profit.

People need good, wholesome, natural food. Many people do not consume enough fruit and veg. The local neighbourhood grocer is gone, and people are disconnected from the process of growing and using fruit and veg. People should not have to pay a massive premium for locally produced, natural food.

There is no incentive to start growing food to sell. Everyone goes to supermarkets, you couldn’t possibly set up a small scale distribution system for the spare carrots you grew in your garden.

What’s really new about your idea?

– Not done before. Technology can enable what was previously very hard to organise.
– Needs to have a new, honest approach to food. Non supermarket food doesn’t look as good. Food is seasonal. Fresh food is harder to prepare.
– Needs to be about relationships and local communities, not making money as a business idea.
– Trying to address local food distribution problems with technology
may not have been done before.

There’s no way to register demand or surplus:

– Displaying over supply may create demand. (Farmer has too many turnips, householders exchange recipes for turnip soup)
– Displaying demand may create supply. (Everyone wants more carrots, 20 home owners get together to buy wholesale carrot seeds for planting next year)

What inspired you to come up with your idea in the first place?

The inspiration is the many times I’ve seen people with allotments and gardens with more potatoes or green beans than they know what to do with. Inspiration is making people more healthy and countering the negative results of the way supermarkets operate.

Inspiration is how disconnected people are from the fact that potatoes grow in the ground and apples are picked off trees. It’s how happy I am to buy beautiful produce from farmers markets and how much I want to bring that experience to a much wider group. It’s those farmers you see on TV that are bullied by supermarkets. It’s how good a *real* potato or carrot tastes.

From 1-5, what stage of development would you say your idea was in?

Pre stage 1. I love the idea from a technical stand point, and think I could pull off a prototype, but I need people familiar with the growing, storage and local distribution of foods to start thinking about the practical and logistical issues and who could help flesh out
some draft designs a little.

What can we do for you?

Hook me up with people who aren’t techies who can input on this idea. Logistics guys, farmers, local producers, allotment owners, school councils, dinner ladies, produce buyers at restaurants, anyone with a big interest in a local produce market.

I would have some desire to take this forward, but not a huge amount of time to dedicate to it due to work demands. I would be happy for it to be taken forward by someone else.

This idea was submitted by James Lewis.

James is the Lead LAMP dev. for an open source start up.

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