Project of the Day: Cropmobster


A “food gleaning and supply-sharing program, called Cropmobster, spearheaded by Bloomfield’s General Manager Nick Papadopolous, has created simple and effective solutions to address food waste and hunger and increase farmer visibility in a decentralized, community-based way”. [1]

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By Dani Burlison:

“It started in March,” says Papadopolous. “Standing in our vegetable cooler on a Sunday night it finally clicked that, wow, there is a lot of food left at the end of the week that should go to people.”

His response was to mobilize; to get this food away from the compost and onto tables. He began by posting deals on Facebook. He was honest about the situation, letting people know that they had excess food and that they’d love to get this food to people, as well as help cover some of their costs. On the first weekend, someone texted Papadopolous, “I’m in!” The second weekend, the same thing happened.

“Both of those times,” says Papadopolous, “it was people just like you: moms, parents, whoever, driving out the very next day for perfectly edible wonderful organic food and distributing it to their neighbors. Everyone got a really great deal, we recovered some of our costs, we got to meet some amazing people and build new friends in the community.”

Experiencing the quick and relatively simple benefits of his crowdsourcing solution, Papadopolous thought of the benefits local grocers, distributors and anyone with excess food could experience. He teamed up with a friend to build Cropmobster, an instant alert platform that anyone who has excess food can post to. Community members can also make posts asking for donations of plant starts for school or community gardens and even, in the case of several elders who have used Cropmobster, asking for donations of food or garden supplies for personal use. To date, Papadopolous says that anywhere from twenty to thirty school gardens have been planted with seedlings that would have otherwise gone to compost.

“All of these great groups are out there in our community doing awesome work,” he says. “But there is no community exchange or infrastructure to allow folks to communicate and to mobilize and use crowd-sourcing and decentralized systems to really tackle some of these problems.”

Past deals on Cropmobster have included gleanings of four acres of peaches; six acres of premium grapes; farmers selling ten bunches of basil for $1 each; restaurants and bakers offering truck loads of stale bread to pig farmers; and dozens of egg-laying hens finding new homes.

Based in Sonoma County, Cropmombster has reached beyond the county lines and in less than a year is now utilized by hunger-relief organizations, churches, farmers, ranchers, retailers and individuals in 11 northern California counties. It has caught the attention of local and national community leadership, too. From agriculture commissioners, farmer advocacy groups and people like Slipstream Strategy founder Tamsin Smith and Assistant Chief of Natural Resources Conservation Service James Gore, who both serve on the groups advisory committee, groups and individuals are watching closely and stepping in to help. One can hope that the concept can continue to spread to where it is needed the most.” (

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