Nourishing the Planet’s Carol Dreibelbis spoke recently with Todd Jones, founder of Every Last Morsel, an online platform that connects gardeners and urban farmers with their communities. Gardeners, once they’ve plotted their garden’s location on a map, can track the garden’s progress, sell or exchange produce with their neighbors, and share gardening tips with people throughout the community.
Why did you start Every Last Morsel?
Every Last Morsel began as a landscaping service, oddly enough. I would personally design, build, and maintain edible landscapes for individuals. Last year while I was working on this, I had the idea to build a platform for myself to manage those gardens—including their location, contents, and production volume. I realized that if I put those tools on a network, empowering people to do the same thing in their communities rather than doing it all myself, I would have a much larger effect on local food production. That’s how the idea all started.
Every Last Morsel has evolved considerably since then. I realized that creating a network and a micro-marketplace for homegrown food is not a sustainable business model: there needs to be a greater volume of produce available. So, now there is the added ability to buy food from farmers’ markets and small farms, which also gives these growers more exposure.
There’s a social element to the website. Why is that an important part of the project?
My goal is to empower people to educate themselves and connect with experienced gardeners so they can learn how to grow food. I think that one of the most beautiful things about the local food movement is that it allows people to create direct relationships in their community. So, I was inspired to create a social network that brings people together online as a means to get them together in real life. A lot of people have their own network of friends, scattered throughout city, but this is a neat way to inspire people to get to know their neighbors.
What resources will the website provide to people thinking about starting a garden?
Every Last Morsel provides people with a network of hundreds of people that they can learn from, as well as great gardening models that are already in existence. I don’t want people to have to reinvent the wheel to start a garden. One of the things that struck me as I studied urban farming in Chicago is that there are many fantastic, forward-thinking farming organizations; but, they don’t collaborate in finding best practices to make urban farming efficient, profitable, and therefore a sustainable part of urban living.
Do you plan to keep the project within Chicago, or do you envision it expanding beyond the city?
I would love to expand beyond Chicago. Within the first year we will direct our marketing efforts to creating a strong presence in Chicago, since our success will be largely dependent on creating a critical mass of users. But we would love to expand elsewhere in the future. I’m hoping that it will have a certain viral effect.
We’re currently looking for ambassadors in communities throughout the United States and Canada to help spread the word and get communities ready to engage when the platform is launched. This will help make plots more financially sustainable, and build social capital and relationships across communities.
If you’d like to find out more about volunteering as an Every Last Morsel ambassador in your community, email Todd Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org. And keep a look out for the website, coming later this month!
Carol Dreibelbis is a former research intern with the Worldwatch Institute’s Food and Agriculture Program.