An Open Source Approach To Solving The Farm To Table Problem In North Carolina

Margaret Gifford and John Whitehead | | April 28, 2014

For many people spring means a return to the bounty of fresh, local food from farmers markets. But for the one in five people in North Carolina who are facing hunger, that bounty is not an option. This was the challenge that we—a high-tech marketer and an engineer recently relocated from Silicon Valley—set out to solve in 2009. With the help of the open source model, a diverse band of collaborative change makers and engaged community members, the solution took root and continues to grow.

The challenge

The problems seemed unrelated. Farmers were experiencing a loss of revenue as the recession deepened. Simultaneously, increasing numbers of people were accessing social services to feed their families. Agencies struggled to provide enough food, particularly healthy options, to the growing lines of food-insecure people.

A closer look revealed that the farmers grew enough to feed everyone, but were unable to sell everything. Unsold food was thrown away, composted or fed to animals.