Supermarkets work with farmers to supply the majority of US consumers’ produce. In the process, we’ve lost what was once a close and personal relationship between farmers and our food. We know so little about where our food grows, how it is grown and, most importantly, who grows it. But there’s a story to be told—one that can instill a new sense of understanding and appreciation for the food we consume.
That’s where Kakaxi comes in. Since its inception as a Kickstarter project in March of 2015, Kakaxi has evolved into a truly mobile effort to support sustainable farming by sharing the stories behind our produce. The company, founded by an international team of farmers, entrepreneurs and researchers, developed a social networking app to recreate what was once a close-knit community of consumers and farmers. Kakaxi also developed a connected device that allows farmers to share data—including temperature and humidity stats—directly with consumers.
The result? A new way to connect with farmers, learn about our food and support sustainable production.
Rekindling the Connection Between Consumers and Farmers
Kakaxi’s farm-to-table social networking app allows user to search for nearby farms using location-based map functionality, view farm profiles, learn about the weather conditions affecting produce and check out photo updates. Farms can be saved under “My Farms” for quick and easy access. Users can set up notifications for each farm to receive alerts when new photos or farm statistics are uploaded. Additionally, users can upload photos of their meals and share recipes so farmers can see how their produce is being prepared. The app also allows consumers to engage with one-another about their mutual interest in quality food through photo and recipe sharing functionality.
“We chose to create a solely mobile social network because we’re living in a mobile-driven society,” said Adam Smith, Director of Partnership for Kakaxi. “Smartphones enrich our lives in so many ways. Why not tap into that technology to improve the way we consume food? Now, with the touch of a button, we’re bridging the gap between farmer and consumer. That’s something special.”
Kakaxi’s development team turned to the Appcelerator Platform because they had an aggressive launch schedule and needed to cover both iOS and Android, yet still have the flexibility to address OS-specific needs. In other words, they needed high-quality native experience, for the broadest audience in a short amount of time.
Enriching the Experience With the Internet of Things
To support and enrich the Kakaxi app, the company set out to create a fully integrated farm monitoring device capable of delivering pertinent agriculture information and statistics directly to both farmers and consumers.
The Kakaxi device is placed in a central location so that it can record farm temperature, humidity, day length, sap flow and soil conditions. The device—run exclusively on solar power—also features a timelapse camera, which allows consumers to see footage of growing produce. Thanks to the Kakaxi device, consumers get access to previously unavailable information about their food and farmers can quickly and easily view vital crop statistics.
All recorded information is transmitted to the farmer’s smartphone via a 3G connection and is then sent to the cloud for easy storage and sharing. With the Kakaxi device, farmers are able to push photos and statistics to their mobile community of consumers, bringing the story behind produce to life with images and constantly updated data. Although the Kakaxi app is fully functional without the company’s supporting device, turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) has made it quick and easy for farmers to update their profile and share more detailed information with their consumer community.
Building a Network for the Future
Creating a rich network for farmers and consumers to engage in doesn’t happen overnight. The Kakaxi team continues to test their app and connected device with select CSA programs and plans to expand its reach in the years to come.
Meanwhile, the development team regularly cooks up new ways to add value to the Kakaxi app and device, which has already achieved major strides in connecting farmers and consumers. The company is developing direct messaging capabilities so users can message, coordinate and get to know each other. Additionally, Kakaxi plans to add video capabilities so farmers can provide a quick 15 second introduction on their page. The team is also planning to work with local chefs to curate recipes and create additional value for consumers.