An early adopter can do more than just set trends. Matthieu Urban believes that as a founder of farming business “myfood”, he can give the company's first adopters something much more valuable than a chance to “be first”. He can give them a place in an exciting community with strong values.
In 2010, engineer and IT wiz Mickaël Gandecki started playing around with aquaponic systems at his house. At the same time, new father and husband Matthieu Urban was starting his permaculture garden in his country home. The two brothers-in-law began chatting about their common goal to grow better food with a smaller footprint. Mickaël called up an old friend from engineering school, Johan Nazaraly, and they work-shopped an idea for a sustainable farming unit at POC21.
The three friends founded “myfood”, and hired Kevin Morgan Rothschild as their first employee in October of 2015 .
Now the team of four provide turnkey greenhouses outfitted with permaculture beds, the open-source Smart Greenhouse computer system, and ZipGrow aquaponic systems. The goal: empowering individuals and communities so that they can feed their families with their own gardens.
“The future of agriculture will involve millions, if not billions of citizens from around the world,” says Kevin. “Our role will be to help as many of those as we can make the right decisions when beginning their own gardens.”
The first wave of myfood'ers will beta test the company’s greenhouse solutions, starting this May. The beta testers, which Matthieu and the crew call Pioneer Citizens, will receive software updates as the program improves based on user feedback. The myfood team hopes that Smart Greenhouse will build convenience and confidence for myfood’s European growers. This is an important part of creating a community of Pioneer Citizens.
“The idea is that you are a pioneer citizen in the way that you are being part of a community that is working for re-localizing food production,” says Matthieu Urban. “This is something that is a brand new experience for Europe because people don't know much about aquaponics...People are going to be a part of a new adventure - a food adventure. That's why we call them pioneer. They are citizens in the way that they are going to be part of an environmental and sustainability initiative to re-localize food production.”
Matthieu explains that pioneer citizenship is a characteristic that means much more than being just a beta user or just a first adopter: "It goes further than just testing a product. We're really engaging people in something that makes a lot of sense for the human being. They can start to quit mass market consumption... to redo food themselves."
Myfood will sell a turnkey greenhouse kit in Europe, complete with 18-24 ZipGrow Towers built into an aquaponic system, a monitoring system, and several permaculture beds for the larger crops and root vegetables.
When the customer receives the kit, they will have a manual to guide them as well as technical farming support from the myfood team. Matthieu Urban called this being the farmer’s “personal trainer”.
This spring the myfood team will be spreading the news of myfood at agriculture fairs and conferences across France. (Currently, the team is debuting the system at the Salon International de l’Agriculture in Paris.)
If you're in the area, be sure to stop by for a good look at myfood's greenhouse kits or Follow myfood on Twitter.