Made Something Cool At The Food Hackathon This Weekend

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This past weekend I had a good time meeting like-minded people at the first Food Hackathon here in San Francisco. The organizers billed it as “the first of its kind”, however I’m familiar with Food+Tech Connect in New York City so I’m not sure they can make that claim (see: 2010 eventbrite. Note the almost free ticket prices. Can’t quite say the same for the event we just went to… Paid hackathons? Not sure this is how it’s supposed to work…) Anyway, we still had a lot of fun participating in the madness.

My co-founder and I went to this event together with the idea of building a simple local foodsharing, fresh fruit and vegetable barter marketplace to help create a more accessible sustainable alternative to the very money-dependent food system we all primarily rely on every day to feed ourselves. However in the process of brainstorming a name for our fruit and vegetable exchange we actually found at least two pre-existing websites that we hadn’t found before and were the exact same thing we had been trying to find, and ended up deciding to try using those sites first and reconsider what to build for the Hackathon.

We teamed up with Luke Iseman of Growerbot (Kickstarter) and Garduino (Project), along with his girlfriend Heather to work on his idea for building an online game similar to the mega-popular FarmVille (Facebook game by Zynga) but In Real Life. So like, you earn points (“Seeds”) for actually planting plants in your garden, and earn more points for uploading pictures and checking on your plants and posting measured growth values regularly. It’s called “Seed Mogul” and the goal is to encourage more local, independent, and distributed food production with an addictive and truly rewarding game. One of the parts of the idea that I really liked was his plan to actually allow users to “cash in” their “Seed” points for actual heirloom seeds that they would receive in the mail and use in their garden.

You can see what we built here (You just sign in with Facebook, just like FarmVille). Unfortunately we did not win any of the competition categories at the Hackathon. We probably could have made it a little more polished. But a lot of the key functionality is there. I’m realizing now that we could have also made a stronger case in our final pitch presentation for how this fits into the larger picture of the food sustainability movement and the efficacy of hyper-local fruit and vegetable production as a truly viable alternative food system model. In any case, feel free to sign up and check out our game! We’re hoping to see if anyone’s interested before working further on it. Most of all, James and I are very happy to have met Luke and Heather, and foodclouds is looking forward to possibly working together with Luke more in some fashion in the near future.

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