Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact
The social media element has been in development since December 2008 in which time a variety of milestones have been achieved including a member base on the Ooooby website of over 2,500 food growers, 90,000 unique visitors, 180,000 visits and 840,000 page views since its launch 18 months ago. This has created an enormous knowledge based organization where vital information is being shared globally. Success to date has been primarily due to ‘friend referrals’ which demonstrates the high appeal and viral nature of the concept. The social network currently has 170 groups where people can ask questions, start discussions about anything from how to build a water catchment system, to how to grow any kind of edible plant, companion planting, how to keep bees to barter and trading homegrown/made produce.
The retail prototype has been operating since September 2009 as a market stall and has achieved a supply base of over 35 micro growers (back yard growers) and approximately 100 customers. The stall provides a space for people to communicate, share, buy, sell and barter homegrown and local food within a community. The stalls also provide gardening supplies with special member prices whilst also providing an income and good social capital for the stall holder.
Other services include Ooooby-versity workshops where you can learn seasonal knowledge on food growing, recipes and more.
The engagement of Ooooby in local areas is creating a kind of contingent food economy for a community in the event of a global economic shift.
Ooooby on a larger scale is bringing back the social to the community by developing and educating people with the tools to further them with access to locally and homegrown food. It starts with one community and spreads throughout the world.
Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing
Ooooby is the solution to our many diverse local food systems around the world that are rapidly being displaced by a globalised and centralised food system. Locally owned, polycultural farming has been diminishing at an accelerating rate over the last 30 years in place of large corporate owned monocrops. Locally owned food producers and retailers are also being displaced by the same system. The Globalised Food System sees the world through a 'one big farm' paradigm. Grow all the oranges in Brazil, all the bananas in Ecuador etc. An ecological problem with this paradigm however is that our ecosystem is built to a certain scale. The counteraction to the problems caused by this ecological imbalance is the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilisers, which are in turn causing untold environmental damage. Another problem with this paradigm is that as countries subscribe to the globalised food system, the existing local food systems give way and subsequently collapse. Local Food Systems are an integral part of the social and economic fabric of a region. So not only does a community lose its ability to feed itself, it also puts its economic welfare at risk. More and more countries are now finding themselves in the position where they can no longer turn back and they can't afford to keep going. We are at a point in time when we need to rethink our food systems. Long term provision of nutritious foods to every human is a vision that cannot be achieved by our current means. To achieve this we need to relocalise our food systems by addressing our staple food provision at a community and regional level and to also support communities from all around the world to do the same, which Ooooby is doing.
Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?
Step 1. To provide a platform for home based food growers to gather and share information on.
Step 2. Provide a continuous stream of relevant and valuable information to the platform that encourages, enables and inspires food growers to improve their skills and to develop their knowledge.
Step 3. Provide a service where food growers can bring small volumes of homegrown food and barter or sell their food at a public market place.
Step 4. Promote the availability of local food to the consumers in the local region.
Step 5. Fortify the local food supply chain with new technologies to enable volume and efficiencies in order to compete with the large scale centralised systems which currently dominate the market.
The business model is effectively an eBay for local food. The difference however is that food cannot be viably sent through the post or courier like most eBay items. To solve that problem, Ooooby provides the distribution system via a local business model which brings all the food to a hub and which then enables food to be clustered and redistributed.
The main thing that might prevent success is poor choice of location for early deployment. Different regions have different levels of 'readiness' for an idea like this, so it is vital that the program is deployed in local areas that are ready, willing and able. The other possible preventer is malicious tactics by established food organisations to derail the program.
Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible
The goals for the next 3 years are:
1. To be a leader of the local food movement within NZ and Australia.
2. To be fully self funding our own expansion plans by year 3.
3. To generate social and ecological benefit in the regions we operate.
4. To be ready for succession.
If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?
Not directly, but possibly. By giving people access to serve the food market at a home based micro-level we hope to demonstrate the power and sensibleness of such a concept, which may then motivate grass roots lobbying for food law amendments to further aid the cause.