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  • WeGardn: Philly Startup Brings Local, Healthy Food To Your Door with a Click wegardn-greg-Aasit Full view

    WeGardn: Philly Startup Brings Local, Healthy Food To Your Door with a Click

    Imagine a road trip to the shore or mountains.

    Driving along listening to the latest Taylor Swift song (just me?) on Spotify, you see a little farm stand on the side of the road. You pull the car over to browse. You pick up some freshly picked strawberries and blueberries. Maybe you scored some locally harvest honey or jam.

    After returning home, you enjoy the fresh food but can’t remember where you pulled over – even if hopped back in your car to start driving. What can you do?

    WeGardn is trying to bring that local farm stand to you, with the click of a mouse. A digital farmers market that sources food as locally as possible, WeGardn is slimming down the supply chain, eliminating food waste, sourcing food efficiently and helping small-scale farmers – all by using technology and analytics.

    Plus, you can get WeGardn food in as fast as an hour.

    We chatted with WeGardn Co-Founders Greg Donworth, Chief Strategy Officer & Aasit Nanavati, Director of Strategic Initiatives at their warehouse in Olde Kensington to find out more about this local startup.

    (And yes, they did find replicate that above scenario… kind of. They found a few of their local suppliers by driving around the suburbs, sometimes winning over the providers over dinner and wine on a farm.)

    How WeGardn is Reducing Food’s Carbon Footprint

    Our current US food supply has so much waste and problems. Carbon impacts from the meat industry, suppliers, transportation, and storage are enormous. 40% of food is wasted after its grown. The amount of inefficiency in our current food systems. GMOs, chemicals, and unpronounceable items is a lot to consider.

    WeGardn is problem-solving for sustainability – and in doing so, the startup helps save consumers cash and produce from going bad. By sourcing locally, they’re operating more efficiently than popular grocery stores that source food from around the world. Plus, slimming down the supply chain and increasing efficiency helps save the customer money.

    Currently, WeGardn is a delivery-only model, making on-demand local food attainable. WeGardn’s average food travels 48.2 miles – compare that with a nationwide average of 1500 miles with other grocery stores.

    WeGardn: Carving Out a Niche in Sustainable FoodWeGardn Philly Food Tech Startup

    With so many on-demand food startups, WeGardn is carving out a unique space that grows the local food movement. For those who find a CSA intimidating (and missed their weekly farmers market), the online component makes local food accessible to fit your schedule. For the providers, they’re giving an opportunity to reach a broader distribution for those who haven’t found retailers or may not want to sell directly on an e-commerce model.

    We’re giving a voice to these small-share farmers and producers Philadelphia had the opportunity to distribute on a large scale. They have great products and produce, but smaller in nature so are waiting for someone to drive by their farm,” as Nanavati said. “We want to amplify their voice. It’s a good opportunity to help them expand while also creating a niche for ourselves.”

    They can also use current food delivery trends to help grow. “We can work alongside the Postmates and Grubhubs as the one-stop shop for the customer,” according to Donworth. “We offer transparency and the best quality from a company that’s focused on strengthening communities and getting to know your farmer, with access to food that hasn’t been in Philadelphia before – even though it’s grown so closely.”

    WeGardn’s growth is snowballing quickly. Donworth’s inspiration to create WeGardn arrived after watching a food documentary. The company was in the idea phase as of January, launched a beta version in April and then debuted in early August. (They were also one of our awesome in-kind sponsors for SustainPHL, sampling local produce and cheeses.)

    WeGardn: For Millennials, By MilleNnials

    The company that millennials will love also came together in a super millennial fashioned.

    Just take Donworth and Nanavati’s meeting, for example. Donworth is a twice-Green Program Alumni, having traveled Costa Rica and Thailand with the local program. Nanavati’s background in social impact and sustainability and entrepreneurial spirit lead him to live abroad with a few entrepreneurial stints in Uganda and India.

    Nanavati and Donworth met serendipitously at the Forbes 30 under 30 conference – with mutual draining batteries at the phone-charging station. They hit it off instantly and stayed in touch to eventually working together.

    So what’s the future vision for WeGardn?

    WeGardn wants to make local food accessible to everyone. As Nanavati explains, “Healthy, organic, local food should be accessible to the masses. Food shouldn’t be a luxury item.”

    WeGardn wants to service the local community to help fight food deserts, with an eventual hope to have farmers market days or atmosphere in the warehouse or deliver to local community centers. “Cheetos are cheaper than carrots – and that perpetuates poverty. I don’t think we can make carrots cheaper than Cheetos, but we can push it in the right direction,” adds Donworth.

    The team is currently seeking capital from investors. Eventually, they want to see WeGardn in other cities, supporting their own local communities.

    “Whether you’re in Atlanta or Los Angeles, you’ll be able to support local farmers,” according to Donworth.

    Want to try WeGardn yourself? Just head over to their website, and you can start ordering.

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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