Farmify app promises to help Vashon farmers thrive
By Eric Ormseth, Reporter
Farming has long been an important part of Vashon’s culture, and the local industry continues to grow as a source of food for island residents. For decades, the local market for fresh, direct-to-consumer food has stayed largely the same. However, with the continued growth of technology, the process is likely to experience major changes.
Former Vashon Island Farmers’ Market manager Caleb Johns is working full time to change the way the market for locally grown food works on Vashon with a new app called “Farmify.” His goal is to transform the landscape of farming on Vashon.
Johns is a firm believer of the principle that “You are what you eat,” a mantra he believes to be a perfect definition of Farmify’s mission. Upon the app’s release, Johns hopes users will be able to live a healthier lifestyle through better dietary choices while helping local farmers and restaurants thrive as a result.
“We are in the early stages of development, focusing primarily on market research,” Johns said. “We hope to have a targeted alpha product release for this coming harvest season.”
This app aims to solve logistical issues present in the small-agriculture industry by showing current inventories of farm stands connected to the Farmify app or allowing customers to remotely browse where certain items can be found. On release, Farmify will be free to sign up, charging only a small transaction fee in order to keep the business operational.
“Farmify is a company with deep social values,” Johns said. “When we achieve success, we will incorporate as a socially conscious corporation and become certified as a [benefit corporation].”
A benefit corporation is a business that focuses on environmental stability, public transparency, and balancing profits with company objectives.
“Our app will connect local farms with restaurants and other customers to improve selection, save time, rationalize pricing, and more efficiently distribute product,” Johns said. “It will also provide farmers with valuable business reports and businesses with targeted market analytics.”
Johns’ familiarity with the food industry comes from close to a lifetime of involvement. He has previously worked with the Farmers’ Market, in restaurants, and on farms themselves. His experience in the industry grants him and his ideas a trusted reputation among Vashon farmers.
“For Vashon Island, the percentage of food eaten grown on Vashon is tiny,” Plum Forest Farm owner Rob Peterson said. “An app like this could really expand that market, [and] bring in a lot more customers so that a lot more farmers could thrive on Vashon.”
In addition to connecting consumers to markets, Farmify intends to facilitate an increase in small-scale agriculture by helping less recognized farms grow and become stable and succeed more, especially as local farming appears to be making a resurgence in the Northwest.
Technology has been proven to decrease required manpower while increasing overall efficiency in the agriculture industry. Farmify intends to help farmers integrate the internet into their farms, allowing them easy access to the technological benefits of the 21st century.
Integrating the internet into farming businesses can be difficult, particularly for farmers who aren’t well equipped to integrate technology into their business. However, some Vashon farmers, including Amy Holmes of Holmestead Farms, are excited to use more technology in farming.
“From up-to-the-hour weather forecasts, to our daily biodynamic planting calendar, we use technology,” Holmes said. “Having smartphones definitely aids us in being able to not just communicate quickly with each other on the farm, but also the world.”