Food sustainability app grown by U of R student
Oh, the places you’ll grow
An abundance of zucchinis in Hannah Tait’s grandmother’s garden left her with an idea to get rid of a plentiful harvest, but also fight food insecurity in the process. Now, something that began as an idea is being developed into a functioning app to help people connect with other urban growers in their area.
ProdYous is an agriculture technology startup app that is focused on connecting urban producers and urban consumers. The app will redistribute produce from different gardens right into the hands of buyers for a low cost or free.
Hannah Tait, a fourth-year Business student at the University of Regina, said part of the idea came from years of volunteer hours at the food bank and working with post-secondary students facing food insecurity.
“We could see that there were some gaps in how food was being distributed, or even the type of food that was being provided to people,” said Tait, who explained non-perishable foods donations are seen more often than fresh produce.
While watching her grandmother give away a plentiful harvest of zucchinis from her garden, Tait thought there should be an easier, more effective way to connect consumers with more affordable and local products.
“I think knowing where your food comes from is really important as we become more conscious consumers,” said Tait. At Canada’s Farm Show, Tait and her team took the idea as a launching point for the 24 Hour Startup Powered by Cultivator competition to make an Agtech product.
“To develop an entire app in 24 hours is a monumental task, and I am so amazed with the developers we had helping us,” said Tait. “I think the way my team has pushed each other to really challenge ourselves is really exciting.”
The competition was where the idea began to flourish. By the end of the 24 hours, the team had the app ProdYous, ready to present for the judges. Tait said it was nerve-wracking presenting in front of the other teams, but what really stuck out to the judges was the passion and social purpose of the product. The passion and social purpose paid off with Tait and her team winning the competition.
Tait was approached with lots of enthusiasm for ProdYous after winning the competition, and said one of the selling points in terms of importance for the app was that large stores can be overwhelming for people.
“When that happens, people aren’t getting the food that they need,” said Tait. “Whether that’s the nutrition value of their food or cultural appropriateness of their food, so giving people back the power to contribute and shape their food systems is a huge goal of ours as well as creating a new food system that is more sustainable.”
Food begins to lose its nutritional value as soon as it is harvested, and ProdYous will cut down on transportation costs, but also get more nutritious products to consumers quicker. Once the food gets to the consumer, Tait said the app will provide educational aspect to teach people how to grow their own food in a sustainable way. Eventually, Tait said it’s a long-term goal to include a recipe portion of the app including tutorials on how to cook food.
“I didn’t always see myself as someone who could shape the future of technology or shape the future of agriculture, but this is a little bit of a testament that everyone has a role to play in technology and agriculture. As someone [who considers] themselves as a Business-Humanities student from a city it’s hard to imagine, but I do think I have a place.”
The app is tentatively set to launch in the spring, right as people rototill the dirt in their gardens.
Tait would like to thank her team Yug Shah, Zakiyyah Noorally, Yazdan Ranjbar, Baran Erfani, Christopher Jason, and Caitlin Cmoc who competed on the 24 Hour Startup ProdYous Agtech team.