Quirky storytelling on a powerful platform supports economic development, farmers and families
Nick Papadopoulos wants to create a culture of infectious enthusiasm in the farm and food world. This year he's hit the road with a cell phone and eight-foot selfie pole, digging into communities to find everyday people who are having a positive impact on farms, gardens, markets and food banks.
He found his passion as a small-scale organic farmer dismayed by a cooler full of wholesome food without a buyer. Just miles away families were suffering food insecurity. The dilemma sparked the creation of CropMobster Community Exchange, a social media and crowd sourcing online platform for food, farmers and consumers. People who have extra food can post, and the crowd gives ideas for distribution. CropMobster became a community connector.
"It's amazing what can happen with you stick your Nick out," Papadopoulous joked.
Papadopoulous was the keynote speaker at the 2017 International Food Bloggers Conference in Sacramento, encouraging the writers to find ways to collaborate and make a difference in the world.
"Think about the power of impact you can have," he said. "You can have fun, do your work, but carve out time to be a team. Team up to make impact happen."
Today CropMobster is in 18 of 58 California counties. "We've had millions of dollars of economic impact and saved millions of pounds of food because thousands of people believe in our vision and are joining the tribe," Papadopoulous said. "4-H'ers are selling product, someone found a job, a health provider connected fresh veggies with a client."
The remarkable stories shared by CropMobster users sparked another innovation: CropMobster TV. Adopting the persona "Nicky Bobby," Papadopoulous travels the state interviewing wise elderly citizens, young leaders, farming families, immigrant workers, and food and agriculture scientists to produce twice-weekly online videos in a non-commercial, folksy tone.
"We are highlighting stories that are feeding our families," Papadopoulous said. "We're tying to untangle the caring economy, what it is that makes people so generous."