The Seed Voyage platform creates a new market for urban agriculture

Seed Voyage
Screen capture Seed Voyage

Got vegetables? Want Vegetables? Seed Voyage is a new peer-to-peer service that puts the haves and the have-nots together.

So much of the problem with food waste is with distribution, and the fact that it is shipped long distances to food terminals and redistributed to stores in a hub-and-spoke system. A big part of the problem with food quality is that our fruits and vegetables are often bred to withstand the time and abuse involved in the process, at the cost of flavour. As food expert Wayne Roberts notes, “Today’s agrifood system is super-efficient, in short, because it took the culture out of agriculture, and assigns the farmer the task of growing one crop that will be turned into one ingredient in a supply chain assembly line…”

One solution to address this problem is the massive growth in farmers markets, which are more of a peer-to-peer distribution system connecting growers directly with consumers. But it's not very efficient either; there are a lot of pickup trucks driving many miles on one side of the table, and not a few SUVs driving across town on the other.

Neither the farmers market nor the grocery store can deal with another opportunity: the incredible productivity of our own backyards. That's why Dushan Batrovic started Seed Voyage, a new way to put people who grow stuff together with people who want it. He writes:

Every yard is a potential farm in the making. But not just any farm. A farm filled with the most unique, high quality fruits and veggies you’ve ever tried. By some estimates, one-third of all households grow food for personal consumption. I grew my first veggie garden last summer and was blown away by the flavour and quality of my heirloom tomatoes and peppers. I’m just an office guy with no farming experience whatsoever, yet my produce tasted better than what the grocery store offers.

Batrovic determined that a backyard gardener can grow about $500 worth of food in 100 square feet.

For summer students or retired folks with access to a bit more land, you could probably earn a few thousand during growing season. However, for people like me, the appeal of Seed Voyage is to find a new use for those weeks in August and September when everything goes ripe at the same time. Instead of giving away all of my delicious produce, I can sell them and use these funds to purchase other amazing produce from local gardeners.

TreeHugger Katherine has also noted that gardening gives kids a sense of purpose. "They will also have a great sense of accomplishment once they harvest the vegetables grown in the garden they helped care for. Unlike other household chores, gardening has an edible, tangible result that helps the hard work to make sense." I suspect that if they got a few bucks out of it, it might even be more of an incentive.

5 km radius of my house takes in half the cityA 5 km (3 mi) radius takes in much of my city! /Screen capture

That's why we are covering this now, as people plan their gardens for the season; the Seed Voyage platform can turn a hobby into a nice little side business. It's all very simple to use; you enter your address, the distance you are willing to travel to get your produce, and what you are interested in. When the grower notifies Seed Voyage that the produce is ready, buyers with matching preferences within their set radii will be notified. The price is always five bucks; the grower determines how much produce to deliver and the buyer decides whether or not to accept it. Neat and simple.

Remember the hundred-mile diet? We have been talking for years about the importance of buying local food. Now we are talking ultra-local, the one to three-mile diet. It has been hard to do because the quantities that come out of back yards and allotment gardens are comparatively small, and putting the grower and eater together was hard. Seed Voyage is a tool that could solve this problem, making fresh produce as local as my neighbour's backyard. I am looking forward to trying it this summer. If you are in the USA or Canada, sign up at Seed Voyage.

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