SPOKANE — Vince Peak and Eric Kobe are the innovators behind Share.Farm, a new smart phone application that helps local farmers find potential customers, and vice versa.
“We want people to know where their food’s from, what goes into producing that product and getting it to them — having a more close relationship with that local farm and seller,” Peak said.
In addition to allowing farmers to offer their crops for sale through the app, it also shows which restaurants purchase local items and serve them on their menu, Peak said.
The app also shows potential customers which local products are available nearby, or if they pass a participating farm or market, they will receive a notification of the products available.
The app launched in August. Peak said they have 1,000 customers in the Spokane area, the company’s primary territory.
The app provides farmers with another revenue source, Kobe said. Small-scale farmers who have produce to sell can use the app to reach customers.
With the app, farmers can sell product seven days a week instead of just two or three like they’re doing at farmers’ markets, Kobe said.
Kobe said the app allows vendors to share their stories directly with customers, and buyers to know where their food comes from. It’s one-stop marketing, he said.
Farmers use the app by downloading it free of charge from the Apple or Google stores, logging on, listing all items for sale and linking to a payment processor to conduct transactions through the phone. When they get an order they can then determine the means of distribution — delivery, on-farm pickup or a mutual meet-up point.
“All you need is to setup a vendor profile, list the items you want to sell and they must be grown by you or your business,” according to the website.
Farm.Share does not charge a vendor fee but has a service charge of 7-13 percent, depending on the size of the order, according to the share.farm website. The app uses the Stripe Connect Express for immediate payouts to sellers.
Some 130 farmers, primarily in Eastern Washington, are signed up.
Peak said the company is talking to farmers in Wenatchee and Yakima about selling directly there. He also plans to start targeting Seattle and Portland.
Adam Hegsted, chef for the Eat Good Group, uses the app to buy local products for all of his restaurants.
“We try to get as much local product as possible,” he said. “Getting product in the winter is not always easy. If there’s more people buying things on a regular basis, more things will be available.”
Peak and Kobe say they got involved because they care about what they eat and want to direct purchasing dollars to local farmers and businesses.
Smaller users, such as gardeners, could also make money selling their crops using the app, Peak said.
Using the app, livestock can also be pre-sold before it even goes to slaughter, Kobe said.
The creators are working with sellers to improve the app.
Kobe hopes to reach 5,000 customers in 2019.
“We’re surrounded by amazing farms all over the place,” he said. “This is one of the biggest growing places in the country, and no one’s buying as much local food as they could. Users will be able to see sellers who are in their own backyard.”