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GreenMaven Peer-to-Peer Food Hub
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README.md

GreenMaven

How to Contribute

Getting the Code

  1. Fork the repo and configure a remote
  2. Make sure you're synced with the remote
  3. Make your edits in a new branch (branch from master for issue fixes, dev for new features)
  4. Open a pull request when you're done.

We've been both overwhelmed and humbled by the level of support we've received for this. Please be patient as we try to play catchup to onboard new developers/designers.

What Can I Work On?

Request an invite to our Trello board

Holler at us? Shoot an email to chris@sylvanaqua.com and we'll get you a Slack invite (we'll install Slackin... someday)

Check the Wiki for information about the technology stack, dev environment setup, etc.

If you catch bugs, etc. please file issues. Anyone is free to take a stab at solving any existing problems found there :-)

GreenMaven Vision and Business Case

GreenMaven helps the local food movement scale up by connecting growers and consumers via direct peer to peer exchange. Food buyers get easy access to all the growers in their community; the growers get access to a busy marketplace with low barriers to entry.

A grower is traditionally connected to a customer either directly (on-farm sales, farmers markets, CSA), or via a food hub intermediary, or by restaurants and wholesalers. This traditional model comes with a number of problems for both parties, as well as for the future scalability of the local/beyond-organic food movement.

Grower Problems: Gaining entry into farmers markets (especially popular ones) can be extremely difficult for new grower; next to impossible if they're hobby growers or otherwise working part-time. Selling on-farm requires the farmer's time that could otherwise be spent in the field, and makes grocery logistics more difficult for consumers since on-farm markets have extremely limited hours. CSAs offload a great deal of risk onto the consumer (the customer pays even if there's no harvest, and often doesn't get to choose their items), and only appeal to a small number of people; the small number of these types of customers makes them very difficult/expensive for producers to acquire. Restaurants and wholesalers, while potentially providing a stable income and large orders, require significant price cuts and demand levels that can overwhelm smaller producers.

Buyer Problems: Buying local is a logistical nightmare compared to the convenience of the grocery store. A week's worth of local groceries could involve trips to two farmers markets, a boutique grocer, a farm store, and a CSA box. While this itinerary is certainly possible for the particulary committed, it presents a high barrier to entry that's arguably keeping a lot of them out of the Local marketplace. Physical food hubs alleviate part of the convenice problem, but for a very high price; the barrier to entry just shifts from a logistics problem to a budget problem. Seasonality is also a problem, as farmers markets often shut down in the winter even while many producers keep growing. This leaves buyers at the mercy of high-priced hubs and grocers, and long trips to multiple farms in the countryside.

In sum, the current suite of vehicles connecting producers and consumers limits the ability of the local food movement to scale, because it's too difficult for both producers and consumers to enter (or persist in) the market.

GreenMaven fills the gap left by traditional sales vehicles. The premise is simple: producers publish their inventory, consumers publish their grocery lists, and GreenMaven works as a matchmaker. This can occur via direct search (e.g. a customer searching on a specific item to see what producers have what items, and when/where they can be procured), or via automated exchange (e.g. a customer enters a grocery list, allowing GreenMaven to pick producers based on pre-defined criteria and create a grocery shopping itinerary that's executed either by the customer himself or a third party who delivers.)

The producer benefits from a larger pool of retail customers and a market that's active 24/7. She is able to sell at a larger volume but for near-retail prices, without losing direct connection to the customer. She can also limit her time spent at farmers markets and otherwise trying to secure sales.

The buyer no longer has to risk sellouts, parking fights, bad weather, and inconvenient hours as farmers markets. None of the risk, up-front payments, and lack of selection in CSAs. None of the extreme markup from third-party retailers. And no more of the uncertainty that comes from wondering if they know who all the farmers are in the local foodscape. The consumer also enjoys lower prices as compared to traditional market vehicles.

**Anticipated Effects

1.) More new producers and small hyperlocal producers (i.e. home gardeners) are able to enter the market because of the low barrier to market exposure.

2.) Producers are able to lower their prices because the costs of acquiring new customers and maintaining relationships with exisitng customers is much lower, but they're able to maintain both higher toplines and margins because the hub/distributor is eliminated.

3.) On-the-fence local consumers enter the market in force, as it becomes possible to locally-source a much greater share of their grocery lists conveniently, with no risk, and at a lower cost than both retailers (e.g. Whole Foods) and farmers markets.

4.) With a mature logistics system in place, retailers and restaurants may also avail themselves of the service as it offers higher quality, flexibility, and authenticity than Sysco Local or U.S. Foods.

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