September 1, 2009 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Here’s a new twist on community supported agriculture: online gardening.
“Have you forgotten where the vegetables on your table come from?” It’s a question agricultural firm Azienda Agricola Giacomo Ferraris asks potential customers. Offering Italians the opportunity to reconnect with the origins of their food, the company’s innovative online offering—Le Verdure Del Mio Orto (‘The Vegetables from my Garden’)—lets anyone build an organic garden right from their web browser.
Users first select a garden size based on the number of people they’d like to feed; 30m2 is sufficient for 1–2 people and costs EUR 850 per year. The virtual gardener can then choose from 40 different types of vegetables, using a highly intuitive interface that includes information on expected yields and harvest times. Optional extras include a photo album of the garden’s progress (EUR 49), herb and fruit beds (EUR 50/75), and even a scarecrow with a picture of the customer’s own face (EUR 39). Once the garden has been designed and fees paid, planting begins on the farm, which is located between Milan and Turin in northern Italy. As the organic produce grows, it’s picked and delivered to the customer’s door within 24 hours. Weekly deliveries are part of the package.
A souped up version of community supported agriculture, Le Verdure del Mio Orto capitalizes on consumers’ hunger for locally grown food and—in a wider sense—for anything that’s faithful to its roots. As our sister site trendwatching.com would say, it’s (still) made here. The time seems ripe for farmers of all varieties to consider setting aside a few lots, adding branding and logistics, and serving it all up for city-dwellers with an enticing online presence. Of course, there’s also an opportunity here for smart companies willing to take care of the non-agricultural elements on a farmer’s behalf. Better yet, contact Azienda Agricola Giacomo Ferraris and ask if they’re willing to license their system.