Sacramento Brings Farm-to-Fork Challenge to National Day of Civic Hacking

By Liz Salmi, Greenwise Joint Venture

National Day of Civic Hacking, a partnership between the White House, NASA and Code for America, was held June 1, and Sacramento challenged teams of coders to come up with an app related to food. The event brought together citizens, software developers and entrepreneurs to create, build, and invent new solutions to solve challenges relevant to our neighborhoods and our cities.

Code for Sac

Sacramento celebrated the National Day of Civic Hacking with a 24-hour hackathon organized by Code for Sacramento–an official Code for America Brigade–along with more than 50 civic enthusiasts at Hacker Lab. The local challenge was presented by the Office of Mayor Kevin Johnson along with nonprofit Greenwise Joint Venture. Johnson challenged civic hackers to “build a solution encouraging local residents and visitors to purchase food grown in the Sacramento region.”

This local food challenge aligned with a national challenge presented by the U.S. Department of Food & Agriculture (USDA). At a recent Next Economy meeting, California USDA Director Glenda Humiston talked about the need to connect the ag community to the tech community.


Locavores (from left to right): Nathaniel Roth, Dan Polaske, Erin Alderson, Michael Krumm and Laura Kopp

Winner, winner, locally sourced chicken dinner

Three teams answered Johnson’s challenge, with team Locavore emerging as the ultimate winner. The Locavore team is creating an app focused on making a game of eating locally. Each week the app will feature an ingredient along with local sources (farmers markets, restaurants, etc.) challenging the user to seek out the new ingredient from a grower, vendor or area restaurant that serves locally grown food.

Eating local isn’t a new concept for Locavore team captain Erin Alderson.

“I started a food blog six years ago and it slowly morphed into a site that was dedicated to helping educate and share recipes about local foods,” Alderson said. “Supporting local has become a passion of mine, and I’d like to see it keep growing!”

Late last year, Sacramento was proclaimed the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America by the state of California. According to the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, this proclamation was based on the region’s abundance of local farmland, vibrant culinary scene, food production, export practices, and high-quality chefs and restaurants in the region.

“I am that person you will often find tweeting about her lunch, and I love cooking with local food,” said Laura Kopp, Locavore team member and MBA student at the University of California, Davis. The National Day of Civic Hacking was her first hackathon. “Code for Sacramento and Hacker Lab did a great job of laying out jobs for non-techies such as myself.”

The rest of the Locavore team is chockfull of tech veterans.

Nathaniel Roth is a CSA customer and is a GIS/spatial computer modeler at the University of California, Davis. Dan Polaske, a co-op member, is a freelance designer who works with tech startups 
on business development.

Michael Krumm is a software engineer for Sacramento-based ground(ctrl). He builds web-based applications for community-driven social websites, and he is married to Alderson.

“I can’t say I have any real connection to local food, other than eating it,” Crumm said. “Erin does a great job making sure we eat healthy. I tend to eat anything that’s put in front of me, but I definitely like the idea that it’s primarily fresh, local foods.”

Whether their interest is in food, or the pure challenge of working with the technical aspects of gamifying local food, the Locavore team is in the development stages for an app that answers the spirit of Johnson’s challenge. We are excited to see where they take the final product and hope to see it add to our region’s consumption of local food.

Greenwise Joint Venture will share updates on the Locavore team as the app rolls out.

Learn more about Code for Sacramento and the food challenge, check out this video about Sacramento’s participation in the National Day of Civic Hacking:

Code for Sacramento: How Civic Hacking Helps Our Cities from Code for Sac on Vimeo.

Code for Sacramento: How Civic Hacking Helps Our Cities from Code for Sac on Vimeo.

Thank you to our local National Day of Civic Hacking event sponsors:
Intel, Hacker Lab, Red Rabbit Kitchen, de Vere’s Irish Pub and Chipotle Mexican Grill

An extra-special thanks to the local elected officials who visited us during the National Day of Civic Hacking:
Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (West Sacramento) and Councilmember Steve Hansen (Sacramento)

Code for Sacramento is a Code for America Brigade (think “Peace Corps for geeks”). As a Brigade, they are part of a national network of civic-minded volunteers who contribute their skills toward using the web as a platform for local government and community service.

See more here.