Steve Cook, creative director of marketing agency Neon, says he never really considered himself a foodie. It was only when his wife, then general manager of Reno-based Great Basin Community Food Co-op, encouraged him that he started tagging along on her drives out to the areaÃ¢ÂÂs farms. But then things started to change.
Ã¢ÂÂI saw the passion and effort the farmers put into the food,Ã¢ÂÂ Cook remembered. Ã¢ÂÂMeeting them really connected me to the food movement and I thought, how could we make that connection in the aisles of the co-op? Instead of driving out to the farms, how could we have thousands of people doing this in the store?Ã¢ÂÂ
The answer came in the form of the co-opÃ¢ÂÂs newly launched Meet Your Farmer mobile app, which allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to view short introductory films about the farmers whose produce stocks the co-op. Scattered throughout Great Basin Community Food Co-op, shoppers will find stickers near the produce, bearing the origin farmÃ¢ÂÂs logo. Shoppers can point the appÃ¢ÂÂs finder at the sticker to automatically load a short video introducing the farmer, farm and resulting produce; for those without smartphones, the store keeps an iPad handy. Because shoppersÃ¢ÂÂ time is limited in the aisles, the videos are very short. But for those looking to learn more, extended versions are housed online.
Funding for the appÃ¢ÂÂs development and implementation came from a grant awarded by NevadaÃ¢ÂÂs Department of Agriculture. But stores looking to do something similar need only reach out to Cook to collaborate. Ã¢ÂÂWe are working with the National Cooperative Grocers Association to roll this out to every co-op across the country,Ã¢ÂÂ Cook said. Ã¢ÂÂWe are also talking to the Australian Department of Agriculture, since they obviously have huge farms spread out across their country, and they want to tell those farmersÃ¢ÂÂ stories.Ã¢ÂÂ
In the meantime, Cook is glad to work with any natural food store interested in bringing this app to its shoppers. Interested retailers can email Cook at [email protected] for more information and to get started.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs a great differentiator to be able to tell those farmersÃ¢ÂÂ stories,Ã¢ÂÂ he said, noting that the app helps shoppers understand why local, organic food is worth the investment. Ã¢ÂÂBut what was most exciting for me was the farmersÃ¢ÂÂ reactions. I thought they may not be interested in the technology, but once I showed them how simple it was, they were proud to share their stories. A lot of them have worked very hard for generations and are very proud of the level of produce they deliver. So that was the most heartwarming thing for me.Ã¢ÂÂ