Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Q&A with CitySprout Co-Founder Jesse Mayhew

I recently wrote a post about CitySprout, an online platform connecting local farmers and communities to bring fresh, healthy, local food to everyone, regardless of their income level. The idea intrigued me personally, because I often find myself wishing I could commit to a CSA box, but am too afraid to sign up. CitySprout sounded like the perfect middle ground for me and I wanted to learn more. I spoke with Jesse Mayhew, the co-founder of the innovative new company that's rebuilding the relationship between the farmers and their customers.

LRJ: What was the vision behind creating CitySprout?

Jesse: As our social marketplace continues to grow, so does our ability to effect positive change on an economic, environmental, and social level. The vision behind CitySprout is to help mitigate the environmental impacts associated with modern food distribution, make proper dietary nutrition available for any and all communities regardless of income level, and provide a platform to help fight the growing proliferation of food deserts.

LRJ: What do you hope to accomplish by establishing more communities?

Jesse: We strive to rebuild the lost relationship between communities and their local food producers. This change begins by empowering communities with access to healthy, locally grown food, and becomes firmly rooted when small farms and food producers have the tools to succeed. 

LRJ: What makes this different from the farmer's markets that are currently in place in Austin?

Jesse: It's our hope that the same Austin area farmers that frequent Austin's Farmer's Markets will find CitySprout to be an exciting new platform. Many farmers find CitySprout more convenient than a Farmer's market in that we take the speculation out of things; through CitySprout, farmers only need to pack up and transport what they have already sold. 

From the CitySprout member's point of view, CitySprout provides greater convenience by bringing local food directly to your community to a convenient time and location. You no longer have to travel across town, or only do your shopping on Saturday mornings (or whenever your nearest farmer's market might take place.)  

LRJ: I like that this is not so much of a commitment like joining a CSA. I love Johnson's Backyard Garden when we visit the farmer's market, but I just can't commit to a weekly CSA box. Did you envision people like me when formatting the ideas for CitySprout?

Jesse: Definitely. One of the early observations we had when creating CitySprout was that there are many people out there who would love to be supporting local agriculture and eating local food for whom CSA memberships and seasonal prepayments are simply not a financial possibility.

LRJ: How many communities are currently active elsewhere in the US?

Jesse: In addition to our communities in the Northeast, we have a number of growing business communities within the Austin Area.

LRJ: How long do you anticipate it will take before the Austin communities are up and running?

Jesse: This depends entirely on the communities. Once you start or join a community on CitySprout, you have access to a host of tools (including auto-generated email invitations, flyers, social media posts, and much more) to invite more members and help your community to grow. Depending on the enthusiasm and density of a community, this could take as little time as a week or as long a month.

If you'd like to search for your local community or create one in your area, check out their site. Have more questions? See their FAQs for more information.

About Jesse
Before coming onboard as CitySprout’s Communications Director, Jesse was Partner and Co-Founder of Brave One, a Digital Marketing and PR Agency specializing in work for sustainable and socially responsible companies. A veteran sustainability writer, thought leader, and consultant, Jesse has worked with a vast range of mission-driven companies, including Energizer, Capital One, Compass Group North America, Freeworld Media, Repair the World Apparel, Public Address System, and many more. Jesse has served as a guest editor for Sustainable Life Media. His writings on sustainability and corporate responsibility have appeared in The Washington Post, 3BL Media, Cause Marketing Forum and Sustainable Brands.

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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