A New Take On Farming – AirBNB Style

The Lempert Report
April 12, 2021

CrowdFarming is a platform that works like Airbnb for agriculture.

Shoppers  can log on, read about a farm, who runs it and the agriculture methods they use. They can then ‘adopt’ a plant or part of a field in order to receive the harvest - whether it’s avocados from Spain, or potatoes from Germany, or even wine from France. No surprise, the pandemic has fueled the platform’s growth through shoppers desires for not only fresh food, but a reliable source of supply – their sales have tripled since early 2020 and they are now serving more than 200,000 households across the EU. Yet another category of eCommerce that is critical for supermarkets to monitor and in some cases emulate.  Euronews tells the story of how brothers Gabriel and Gonzalo Úrculo quit their jobs to return to the beautiful orange grove in Valencia where they had grown up to revive the family fruit business. It was mid 2011 and Spain was in an economic crisis. They struggled to make a go of the business so they came up with the idea to cut out the middleman and harvest fruit “on demand” for individual customers. Then in 2017, based on their success, they expanded the idea beyond their own orchard and developed the platform for other farmers. The farmers get a guaranteed price for a certain amount of fruit in advance of the season, allowing them to plan better and reduce waste; and the shopper learns about the farm’s sustainability and farming practices which then increases the relationship and confidence in the food supply. “Europeans have been demanding more organic and sustainable products for years, and the pandemic has only accelerated this shift in consumer behavior,” brother and co-founder Gonzalo told Euro News, he also added that for farmers,

many have seen their traditional sales channels collapse because of the coronavirus crisis. CrowdFarming has grown beyond oranges to other fruits and vegetables, pickles, nuts and event goats – where shoppers adoption guarantees them goat milk. Some products like avocados come with storage instructions to help the fruit ripen gradually vs all at once, since many of the items are sold in larger than normal (or weekly) purchase cycles. Some customers CrowdFarming says also split large deliveries with friends and neighbors to make it more affordable as well as more apt to satisfy the quantity requirements. Marco Jostmeier, a potato farmer in Germany who sells through CrowdFarming, told Euro News that this level of transparency and personalization comes with “a huge amount of extra work” for the farmer. But for his team, being able to set their own price for their product and have a more personal relationship with customers means “we are happy to do it.” “We believe that the bond between producer and consumer will strengthen in the future and that more consumers want to know where their food comes from,” he went on to say. “CrowdFarming is not the only way but... it is one good way.”