Do you forget to water your tomatoes? Are you keen to garden, but you don’t have a yard? Do you admit to force-feeding your family with last year’s bumper crop of backyard kale?
There’s an app for that. Or at least, there will be soon.
Tiny Plots, one of Calgary’s hottest tech start-ups, will be a web-based and mobile application that makes it easier to grow food locally. A recent winner of Pitch Rodeo – a business pitch competition for Calgary start-ups – the Tiny Plots team is full of smart ideas for helping gardeners and for transforming urban agriculture.
“You’d put in what you want to grow, and the app would generate a schedule for the whole growing season,” explained Garratt Hooker, one of the four members of the Tiny Plots team. “It would tell you when to plant, water, weed, and when you can expect to harvest.
“It will even tie in with weather data and shift around your schedule, so that when it rains you need to water less.”
A failure at balcony gardening, I dig any tool that makes it easier for me. But I think the most exciting part of Tiny Plots is the online marketplace it will create.
Tiny Plots’ market will connect people growing extra food at home to their munchy neighbors, or even to local restaurants planning their menus. As a user, you’ll be able to see which of your neighbours is growing the food you want, buy some of it, or even try trading for what you’ve got in your plot.
So, yes, that means you may be able to swap that excess kale for some carrots, beets, lettuce, or… what are your neighbours growing anyways?
I also like how Tiny Plots’ market will help match gardeners with gardens. So many Calgarians own fertile land but don’t grow anything on it due to lack of time, skill, or interest. (Hooker estimates that there are 40,000 acres of unused fertile land in urban Calgary). Enthusiastic gardeners without their own land, including many high-rise dwellers, will now be able to tend that unused land, and pay back the landowner with baskets of fresh veggies at harvest time.
Ultimately, Tiny Plots hopes to “unlock the urban land base for agriculture” in North America. They also see a huge potential for enhancing sustainable agriculture in developing countries, given the rising global presence of mobile phones.
The Tiny Plots team is made up of four recent University of Calgary graduates. Watch them grow via @tinyplots, or follow them directly: Garratt Hooker @g_hook; Justin Brown @justin_t_brown; Jordan Brown @uni_minuit; and Benny Lin @helloimbenny.