Dartmouth residents creating app to connect foodies to farm fresh food

Jun 18, 2018

Two Dartmouth residents are using their life experiences and college education to create an app to help South Coast farms connect with customers digitally.

The app, called FarmThrift, is a concept by Daniel Moriarty and Nicholas Caswell. The aim is to allow residents to buy produce from local farms, which will then be delivered through a network of freelance drivers.

The pair are one of three early-stage Dartmouth businesses receiving support from EforAll. The group’s three-month summer accelerator program provides mentorship and weekly workshops to help small businesses start out on the right path. Here’s a little bit about the app and its creators.

Where did the idea come from?

Moriarty currently studies political science and sustainability at Bridgewater State University. His knowledge of food security and how climate impacts it is just one driving force behind his passion to create a more sustainable future, along with his work as a landscaper where he worked closely with area farms.

He secured a $4,000 grant from the college to research how new technology can be used by farmers for production. The technology will also allow for an indoor winter growing season and the growing of food not commonly produced in the South Coast.

“The tech is here, and whether I do it or not, it’s going to leak into that sphere,” Moriarty said. “I think it’s important for someone like me to do it rather than a big company to step in and do it, because they’ll have different motives than I do.”

Caswell, his partner and friend since third grade, will be the computer wiz behind it all. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth computer engineering student will be will be the chief technology officer for the company.

How will the app work?

The app would display produce choices broken down into categories, and a listing of farms within a set distance that sell the desired produce. A customer would simply add the item to a cart and check out when ready. The food would be delivered by a freelance driver, similar to Uber Eats, and there would be a delivery fee associated with it.

Why is it important?

Moriarty said climate change is affecting the centralized and monopolized food system people rely on and generating fluctuations in the market. It is why he believes now is the time to figure out a solution.

He also said it’s the right thing to do.

“People should be eating locally,” Moriarty said. “People should have more access to fresher local food. Money should be flowing to Main Street, not Wall Street. Money should be flowing to small farmers markets, businesses, restaurants, stuff like that.”

What’s next?

Currently in the conceptual design phase, Moriarty noted the knowledge gained from the EforAll program will impact decisions the pair makes moving forward regarding the design and functionality of the app.

Moriarty said the pair will begin looking for funding by the end of the summer from organizations like the United States Department of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to help pay for the creation of it. Once it’s developed, they hope to have it running in Dartmouth and other South Coast communities.