What do you get when you cross a farmer, a coder and a designer? No, this isn’t the start of a bad joke. It’s a snapshot of a local collaboration of agriculture and technology, with delicious results.

Farmers, small businesses, FoodLink Waterloo Region and the Communitech AppsFactory have teamed up to produce the FoodLink app, to help you eat local easily and often.

FoodLink App Map on BlackBerry (credit: CuteGecko).

Trevor Herrle-Braun, past chair of FoodLink, came up with the idea of a smartphone app that would promote the environmental, nutritional and economic benefits of buying and eating local by enabling users to find and navigate to local producers.  So, he approached FoodLink’s current co-chair Karl Allen-Muncey – who happens to be Creative Director at CuteGecko – for help in making his idea a reality.

Allen-Muncey knows design, but he needed support to code the app for his chosen first platform, the BlackBerry.

“We heard about this new initiative of Communitech called the AppsFactory, and have been long-time fans of the work Communitech does,” Allen-Muncey says. “As a fellow not-for-profit organization in our community, we heard they were taking applications for their first intake of projects, and decided that this was the opportunity we had been looking for to unite the amazing wealth of local food and technology we are fortunate enough to have in our region.”

The FoodLink app was exactly the type of challenge that Rob Drimmie, senior software developer at AppsFactory, was looking for. Clocking in at over 300 hours, the project was completed over four months by Drimmie and his team of local co-op students.

”We felt that under [Drimmie’s] guidance, our project would be in safe hands,” Allen-Muncey says.

The app has been a hit not only locally, but also nationally. FoodLink saw over 500 downloads in the first week, and there are plans to make the app available on other platforms. FoodLink Waterloo Region owns the app, but communities across Canada have shown interest in adopting the technology, and the app has ignited conversation at government levels in Ontario and British Columbia.

The FoodLink team’s goal is to instill a greater passion for supporting Waterloo Region retailers, and to get farmers more involved in the broader community. Knowing where your food comes from is a powerful community builder. Just like our vibrant tech community, the farming community knows that staying local and buying local is a good thing.

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