by Mark Giller, Founder of Farmlike
Can the relationship between the farmer and the community be re-imagined to create a more sustainable system – and one that benefits everyone? We think it can.
This is why we created Farmlike, a revolutionary app that is helping to shorten supply chains and introduce new revenue streams for farmers, while simultaneously providing local communities with unique agritourism experiences.
A difficult environment
For a farmer, it can be extremely difficult to connect with consumers and to promote and sell your products. On top of this, the increasingly high costs of transporting products eat away from farmers’ profits. As members of a cooperative of olive oil producers in Spain, I and several colleagues witnessed these difficulties first-hand. The challenges we encountered in selling our products soon prompted us to recognize a critical gap within the market – specifically, the need for a platform that could assist farmers in marketing their produce locally.
At the same time, we were growing increasingly aware of the popularity and value of agritourism, having observed developments within this sector over the preceding decade. So we asked ourselves: could we create a platform that simultaneously supported farmers while opening up agritourism opportunities? It was here that the concept of Farmlike began to emerge. But this was 2012, and poor infrastructure and limited digitalization amongst farmers created an environment in which we predicted only limited usability for an app like ours.
Farmer- and consumer-friendly
Fast forward to 2020. It was increasingly apparent that amongst the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was increased digitalization amongst farmers, as well as a growing need for people to connect with nature and to understand where their food comes from. So this was our moment: we set out to create an agritourism app that would be both farmer-friendly and consumer-friendly.
Partnering with Hogeschool Utrecht, a university in the Netherlands, we gathered feedback from farmers and consumers regarding the feasibility of a service like Farmlike. Through this, we found that farmers were looking for a platform that would allow them to showcase their products and connect with customers directly, as well as provide information about their farm and the various activities that they organize. At the same time, we found that consumers were interested in learning more about where their food comes from, and to support local farmers. They wanted a platform that would allow them to easily search for – and connect with – farmers in their area, and that would provide them with information about the sustainability and quality of the products they were buying.
The power of technology
With these insights in mind, we designed and built Farmlike so that it would cater to the needs of both farmers and consumers. Once they have downloaded the app, farmers can create profiles for their farms, share information about their growing practices and products, and highlight upcoming activities and events. Consumers, meanwhile, can search for farms by location, activity, or product, as well as view detailed information about each farm and reserve activities.
Throughout the development process, we remained focused on creating a product that served both farmers and consumers. We solicited feedback from both audiences at every stage and made adjustments according to their suggestions and needs. One such example was our development of the Farmlike app private label, as several organizations and associations expressed a desire to maintain their own identity.
Amongst our users today are farmers who have arranged and promoted extremely successful activities such as visits to orange fields, eating out at the farm, and u-pick events. The ability to promote these activities is enormously beneficial: according to research, farmers grow their revenues by an average of 30 percent when they adopt agritourism, not taking into account the additional local sales that they will make.
Our final product, Farmlike – which has been selected as a finalist at several pitch events including the UN World Tourism Organization’s Startup Competition for Island Destiations – is testament to technology’s power to bring people together and support local agriculture. We firmly believe that its ability to connect farmers with consumers will help to promote sustainable and responsible agriculture, while also supporting the local economy and preserving traditional farming practices.
Mark Giller is the co-founder and CEO of Farmlike. The Farmlike app is available to download here.
If your organization aligns with Farmlike and you are interested in collaborating, please email Mark at: Mark@farmlike.io