January 11, 2016
The other day I wondered to myself, “who were the first food entrepreneurs?” Who were the first creative and savvy business people who had a product that others wanted? A product that others would pay for?
And the answer I came up with: farmers!
In 1790 farmers made up 90 percent of the labor force in the US. People worked on these farms, in nearby villages or small towns, and relied heavily on their own community for resources. Today, farmers are less than 1 percent of the nation’s populace. And with the continued growth of our population, mingled with an increase in consumption, we’re seeing a more industrialized and chemical manufacturing of our food. But now there are creative and savvy entrepreneurs out there building their companies one sustainable root at a time!
Mary Lemmer is the cofounder and CEO of Foodscape – a company improving access to fresh and healthy food by making it easy to grow and share food with the community. She started Foodscape to solve several problems – she believes that just as everyone has a doctor, lawyer, and teacher, every person should have access to their community’s farmer. To Lemmer, the true definition of “health” lies within the fresh food consumers eat, the time spent understanding – and even growing – their own food, and sharing this with family and friends.
In 2013 Foodscape began creating these small farms and large vegetable gardens (aka “foodscapes”) for individuals, neighborhoods/communities, schools, and companies in Oakland, San Francisco and a few other cities. Consumers who wanted a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in their own backyard could sign up. Open to landowners, with 250 square feet or more, they would have their yard turned into a farm!
Their latest product – Neighborhood Foodscapes – requires a minimum number of members to join first. The team at Foodscapes identifies an empty, nearby space to create a small community farm. Members of the foodscapes pay a monthly membership fee – usually around $50/month. These fees are used to set up and maintain the foodscape throughout the season. Foodscape has an experienced “foodscaper” set-up and maintain the produce. Members get a weekly share of the harvest, as well as additional local food items (eggs, meats, cheeses, dry goods, etc) from other local farm partners.
The company is based out of San Francisco, but has foodscapes popping up in cities across the country.
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