Family Farms Use CropMobster to Prevent Food From Going To Waste

You can buy, sell, trade, or donate agricultural products.

Jul 31, 2019
Special Collections: STRANGERS TO NEIGHBORS

America is the breadbasket of the world but the romanticized idea of family farms providing that much food is somewhat outdated. While over 90 percent of the country's farmland is made up of family farms or small collectives the largest farms are run by large corporations who garner 75 percent of agricultural sales.

Today, one third of all food produced in the US goes to waste because it is unsold at markets, there isn't enough help to pick or room to store the crops. That really hurts the smaller scale family farms. But that's where CropMobster an innovative community resilience platform for sharing resources by buying, selling, trading, or donating food and agricultural supplies comes in.

"What we know is we have a major crisis and we need to tap into the power of self-organization, crowdsourcing, and directly engaging community members," Nick Papadopoulos, founder and CEO of Cropmobster told TechRepublic.

Originally started on Facebook in 2013 when his family farm had 40 pounds of extra broccoli that was about to wilt in the fields. Papadopoulos,  posted on Facebook to sell the vegetables at a very good price if it could be picked up that day. It was claimed in less than an hour.

Papadopoulos realized the potential and created a website in just a few days with Gary Cedar of Press Tree. Now anyone with surplus food products that would have just gone to waste can post an alert on the site and the alert is shared by email, social media and texts. Any of the thousands of community users can answer an alert publicly or privately. CropMobster now reaches 12 California counties.

"The number one goal for me is that communities are not only recognizing food waste is a crisis, but that we become a trusted partner of communities to make sure as much financial value and awesomeness and creativity is created," Papadopoulos said. "But we are keeping these things in those communities."There are many success stories on the community's website.

"Wow! The girls (egg laying chickens) found a home in 20 minutes. CropMobster is rad! " and: "We were able to get everything we needed at Roseland Creek Elementary school garden – over 500 plant and veggie starts for a local nursery."

The website has become a community by linking together with other resources—  like social media and crowdsourcing — to raise awareness about the problems of food waste.

"CropMobster is creating a much-needed revolution in local food distribution. By connecting small farmers and producers directly to those who can use their food, CropMobster does two things that are critically important to the long-term health of the community – helping farmers make a living by getting more healthy fresh food to those who most need it," wrote Cathryn Couch the executive director of the Ceres Community Project and a founding member of the Sonoma County Food Alliance System.

Food waste is not just a US phenomenon; it is a global issue. It is also a major environmental issue. According to the UN, "If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, after China and the United States."

Resource sharing platforms like CropMobster help but it needs to be replicated in local communities in the US and across the globe. New laws about gleaning and donating unused food is also essential for us to make a dent in the issue of food waste
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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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