For those who have always wanted to grow their own produce, but may have lacked the space, time or even a green thumb, a Utah Valley entrepreneur and restaurant owner has created an app that uses innovative computer technology to personalize and expedite the farm- to-table process.
“Grogrub,” the creation of chef and restaurateur Craig Borlik, combines the virtual world with real-time remote farming. Borlik hopes his vision will benefit not only consumers by making it easier to enjoy clean, organic produce, but also small, family-owned farms who often struggle to make a profit.
Participants will be able to purchase or lease 12’ x 12’ garden plots from a network of small to medium-sized farms around the country and use the Grogrub app to remotely manage and control their personalized gardens. When the produce is harvested, it will be shipped overnight from the farm to the participants’ homes.
“You might live somewhere where it is simply not possible to have a garden. This would allow you to have one, even if it is 200 miles away. You will be able to control it and even watch it grow,” Borlik said.
Using the app, participants will select the plants they would like to grow and then strategically place then in the plot. Following these instructions, employees at the farm site will plant and manage the garden. Web cams will enable the participants to use the app to watch their plots 24-7 in real time. Also using the app, the participants will be able to control how and when their gardens will be watered, using a system that is designed to conserve and maximize water resources.
As a part of the environmentally friendly process, beehives will be placed near each of the garden plot areas. “We’re creating a habit for these bees which are critical to our survival here on earth,” Borlik explained.
When it is time to harvest the produce, participants will receive a “Harvest or Donate” notification. The participants will determine what will be shipped overnight to their homes with the option of contributing the surplus to charity or to a “virtual farmer’s market,” that will enable them to purchase surplus produce from others participating in the “Grogrub” plan.
Borlik describes the “virtual farmer’s market” as an “Amazon” for fresh, organic produce. He calls it an “ecosystem of remote gardening and farmers markets.”
“This has been my dream for 22 years. The technology has now made this cost-effective,” said Borlik, who is managing the project from his Lindon restaurant, “State Street Feed and Supply.”
A Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project will begin January 31 and Borlik hopes to officially launch the app in late March or early April.
Borlik is currently negotiating with local farmers for the first 64 test plots here in Utah County. He hopes to eventually work with a network of farmers in California’s central valley.
“The small organic farmer has been priced out by corporate farms, priced out because they have lost their market and prices have gone down,” he explained. “We want to reward them for what they have done to keep the earth clean and the soil clean, for being pioneers in the organic movement. This will enable them to find new ways to partner with us and increase the profitability of their land.”