Connecting to area farmers.
WRITTEN BY ERIN MEYERING
PHOTO BY ASA GILMORE
The Great Basin Community Food Co-op’s Meet Your Farmer digital app is the first of its kind to launch in any American grocery store. And it was built with Reno-Tahoe area farmers in mind.
Simply open the app (in store only) on your own mobile device or on the co-op’s iPad, and use it to scan the placards placed near local food items throughout the store. The scan prompts a video to play, in which the farmer or rancher who produced the item describes how the food was grown or raised. With this immediate knowledge, customers may make more informed decisions about purchasing food from local sources.
Steve and Jolene Cook started the project as a means to promote more transparency within Reno-Tahoe’s food microcosm. Not only do the area’s farmers and ranchers gain more exposure, but also people are able to learn more about those who grow their food and raise their meat.
“[The app] allows you to understand the energy, passion, and hard work that go into producing our food,” says Steve, who designed the app.
From the ground up
Jolene, who is currently the wellness buyer at the Reno co-op (and previously general manager), teamed up with her husband, Steve, a talented partner and creative director at the Neon Agency in Reno. Together, with drive, passion, the help of locals, and eight months of hard work, they made the app a reality.
The Nevada Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, under the Nevada Department of Agriculture, funded the project with about $70,000. A total of 25 local farmers and ranchers were able to work with local photographer and videographer Asa Gilmore to create videos and share their stories for the app, which launched in September 2015.
“Any time you can draw consumers to where their food comes from that’s a win for agriculture,” says Ashley Jeppson, agriculturalist in the plant industry division at the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
From the point when it announced the app through the filming and production, the co-op saw considerable excitement among area farmers, all of whom wanted to represent the area’s diverse food production industry. Those who participated in the project now have these videos to use as professional marketing material, if they choose. The way we eat and source our food has become a part of our personal narrative, and farmers now have an easy way to share that with consumers.
In the past several years, since Erin Meyering has started working with edible Reno-Tahoe, she has altered her eating and shopping habits for the better. She also has learned the importance of supporting local farmers and ranchers.
Try the app in store at the Great Basin Community Food Co-op, 240 Court St., Reno.
Search “Aurasma” in the app store on your smartphone or tablet when you’re in the co-op. It’s free. Download the app.
Open the app and select the “A” icon at the bottom of the screen.
To search for the Meet Your Farmer application, click the magnifying glass and type “myf” (for the Meet Your Farmer channel).
Click on the top selection (MYF’s public page) and press “follow.”
Now that the app is set up, simply point your phone at Meet the Farmer signs around the store, and a video will play. Once it starts, tap it to view it in full screen.
Those interested also may watch the farmer/rancher videos on the co-op’s Vimeo page, on http://www.Nevadagrown.com, and on http://www.Dropp.coop. The goal is to make the videos and app as accessible as possible, so people may continue to learn the story behind their food.
The Meet Your Farmer app’s emphasis on food education and understanding our food sources make it a natural fit for schools, wellness groups, and other community organizations. Jolene Cook says that groups are invited to schedule tours at the co-op to walk through the app’s download and use. To schedule a tour, contact 775-324-6133 or email Info@greatbasinfood.coop.