This past Thursday, my friend Cara and I went out to Gowanus, Brooklyn to the Farmigo headquarters at the Gowanus industrial complex to check out a food & tech meetup. The group was founded back in 2010 and meet periodically to discuss new technologies transforming the food culture in NYC.
Meetups are growing in popularity and if you look at the size of the worldwide community, its astonishing how many people are getting involved.
When we arrived at the complex, I was surprised to see a modern interior built of wood and featuring exposed piping. The Farmigo office space had the feel of a cool soho coworking space, with wood tables, couches, artisan food packages, desktop mac computers littered everywhere and lots of open space. After checking in Cara and I ventured to the different stationed food tables with numerous offerings from local farms. I had my first concord grape, very different than a normal purple grape, we ate apples in a hazelnut spread and tried artisan bread with local pesto.
After a bit of floating around and mingling, the crowd gathered into the seats for the speaker series to begin. Due to the limited seating, people decided to get creative:
The prompt for all of the speakers was: How has their food technology helped to foster a sense of community.
1. Chris Muscarella: CEO & Founder of Kitchensurfing
Chris spoke about a time in late 2012 when Sandy rocked the city of New York. He talked about the pop up kitchens that materialized after the storm and how him and his community fed hungry people for a total of 5 cents a meal. His thesis was that the future looks a whole like the past...feeding whole communities is a thing of the future.
2. Benzi Ronen: Founder and CEO of Farmigo
Benzi went over a story about his distant past as an Israeli military man and how his experience assimilating to Israeli life helped shape his experience running Farmigo. Benzi likened the experience of starting Farmigo to jumping off of a cliff and not knowing what the bottom will look like. While a bit cliche for anyone leaving a stable job to start their own company, he knew that the community that he was building out of Farmigo would provide a soft landing no matter the outcome of the business. Farmigo is another company that links local farms to communities by organizing dropoffs for whole communities. If you have 10 or more people in your community, you too can organize a Farmigo!
3. Noah Karesh: Founder of Feastly
Noah talked about his experience with food starting at a young age. He founded Feastly after a unique experience in Guatemala with his wife when they couldn't find authentic Guatemalan food and ended up getting the invite into a local's home. Out of that experience stemmed Feastly, an authentic private meal program. Noah went on to coin a pretty poignant statement, "The Dining Room is the original Social network."
4. Michael Robinov: Chief Imagineer of Farm to People
Michael is the young spokesman for his family run business that aims to connect local farms to every day peoples' dining room tables. While Farm to People focuses on artisan goods such as chocolate and pickles, Michael told the story of last Thanksgiving when they tried to feature German Turkeys. After a slew of logistical mishaps, Michael and his family went to extreme measures to drive six hours to an amish farm, pick up the turkeys, haul them back to NYC and single handedly ship them out to their 20 patrons who were daring enough to trust them with their Thanksgiving centerpiece.
When Cara told me about the event I thought this would be an awesome way to learn about any strides that have been made in the digestive disease arena and helping those who suffer find suitable food alternatives. While that wasn't in the focus of the evenings speaking engagement, I was able to meet someone along the way who is working on a project in the space. Looking forward to hearing more from Hnih w. Hnih