Image: Sharleen Smith via Eggzy Flickr pool
It's been six short years since backyard chickens have gone from weird eco-habit to a bastion of local food self-reliance. Chickens are companionable, relatively easy to care for, and keeping them in your back yard ensures that your morning omelette isn't sourced from inhumanely confined hens.
And now, thanks to the brains at Eggzy there is a slick online tool to manage your flock and rustle up customers through your virtual egg stand.
Eggzy co-founder Mark D. Thompson started his flock in 2008. He explains the beginnings of the site:
To a man with a hammer, everything's a nail and so, being a web developer by trade, I built a small web app to keep track of our flock's egg production. That early version was also plugged into Twitter; since our hens produce more eggs than we can convert to frittatas every week, we share the extras with friends. Unfortunately, having the digital persona of one of our roosters crow tweet every time a hen laid an egg didn't have the desired effect. There had to be a better way, and thus Eggzy was born.
At its core Eggzy connects consumers to local backyard and small scale egg producers that have a surplus of eggs to share or sell, where legal. Still in beta, Eggzy has 400 active users. Just over 60% of those user have flocks, of which 65 have public egg stands.
Thompson explains how the site works in an interview with Food+Tech:
Essentially, Eggzy's a marketplace where backyard chicken keepers can keep track of their flock and egg production, and people who are looking for local eggs can find them.
Flock owners enter their chickens and expenses into the system, and then, each time they collect eggs, enter those into the system as well. Eggzy automatically calculates production rates and breakeven, simplifying pricing decisions. Flock owners can also create their own online Egg Stand, where they can tell their story in words, stats and pictures, and let friends and family know when and how many eggs they have available.
Consumers can go to the Egg Stand listings and sort by zip code to find Egg Stands near them. They can also subscribe to their favorite Egg Stands to be notified whenever extra eggs are available.
One of the concerns of municipalities considering allowing backyard hens is food safety and accountability. Danielle Gould at Food+Tech shares her take on this in the intro to her interview with Eggzy's founders.
...by tracking important information about the egg production process, the platform could improve traceability and transparency. After last year's egg recall, it's not difficult to make a case for why this is important. Additionally, the wealth of data being aggregated about little-known information (such as the size of the movement and chicken breeds) could be used to affect policy and support better research. Both of these use cases are of course contingent on how the Thompsons and flock owners choose to share this data.
With tag-lines like "know your food" and "Eggzy is a movement to make our food system personal again", it's clear that the founders have their hearts in this project. I'm really excited that they have taken an entrepreneurial leap to shift some of the burden off of the non-profit world that has traditionally championed local food system development.
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