Ortissimi : a new model for a sustainable agriculture?

NB – This post has been updated on July 26th upon request of Ortissimi due to the recent name change to avoid similarities with already existing brands.

Ortissimi is a project born to build a digital network that connects agriculture producers, urban farmers and gardeners, consumers and citizens. Ortissimi guys have just successfully finalized a crowdfunding campaign con Eppela, the Italian leading platform, and achieved the important backup of Milan City municipality. Ortissimi aims to promote an everyday interaction between farmers and consumers, promoting a better consciousness for healthy food and sustainability of the food production processes. Ortissimi delivers a powerful resource to bring local producers into our everyday life, no need to be an urban farming enthusiast or a sustainable agriculture active supporter.

With a simple app on our smartphones we could get in touch with a wide network of local farmers and consumers, exploiting a huge scaling effect brought by the sharing economy and the social network like technology.

The project is promoted by Area Ridef, a non-profit organization of professionals in the renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability sectors (all alumni of the postgraduate Master course Ridef of Politecnico di Milano). The Association is active in the promotion of renewable energies and sustainability with conferences (Ecomondo 2015), workshops and professional courses (SouthNzeb2016). All members participate in the Association’s activities with their time, network and professional experience on a voluntary basis. Area Ridef gathered more than 340 professionals in the sustainable energy industry, and boosted the Ortissimi project with a successful crowdfunding campaign.

We interviewed Alessio Pinzone, Area Ridef President, who gave us an interesting view on Ortissimi and the future of sustainable local farming networks

alessio-pinzone-ecolab

Alessio Pinzone – Area Ridef President

How did you guys start the project?

The Ortissimi project was designed by Area Ridef, association of Politecnico di Milano alumni, as you know. Our mission is to promote the development of a local sustainable agricultural system both on the supply side and the consumer point of view. We want to communicate and spread a better food and nature consciousness in our every day routine.

Ortissimi is an interesting effort to bring a sharing and cooperative economy model into our everyday lives, focusing on the importance of the food quality. It’s a common trend in the F&B, with arguable achievements.

What do you think about the startup support system? How are you interacting with it in developing your project?

We think that there’s a set of powerful support tools that are really usefully if you know them properly. Each tool fits to a different stage of the project and a good mix of them depends on the type of project you’re working at. We decided to approach a crowdfunding platform to acquire the first financial resources because of the social impact and community oriented mission of Ortissimi . The platform has been also vital to us to acquire a feedback by the community on Ortissimi .

We had also a very important support by the Milan City municipality (Mrs. Elena Grandi, Municipio 1 VP in charge of the urban and green development), as well as the Libere Rape Metropolitane (a local urban farmers association), Arup Community Engagement Europe and XL Insurance Company SE.

What’s the future of Ortissimi ? What are the main benefits for consumers and people who want to make a business out of it?

Until few years ago, top F&B corporation decided almost everything about consumers products and habits. Now we have a more consumer-centered industry in which people are generally more aware and careful when it comes to food quality and product knowledge. Marketing specialists and F&B companies have to deal with it. Our goal is to train a community of aware consumers with a better product choice process, incentivising a growing territory culture. Therefore we decided to launch a virtual currency: Ecocoin, to reward positive behaviours of our users and support a social economy model. This currency will be available only inside the platform and will allow users to buy groceries, get rewards and discounts, apply for training and gardening classes and much more.

Once you manage to build a good users community, how is Ortissimi going to develop in its future?

We’d be glad to extend our project at a European level, to involve different players and communities. Our project is to incentivate new urban farmers and gardeners, providing an easy tool to municipalities to manage it. We’d like to have a social economy model spreading, with a virtual currency to make more positive and sustainable actions possible by the average citizens.

Projects like Ortissimi originate from a community need that merges tech knowledge with the social dimension. A social perspective that is gaining every day a raising relevance in our cities thanks to some conscious pioneer citizens. Ortissimi doesn’t aims to create new services or consumer segments, it’s oriented to be a powerful tool to manage all the micro initiatives in the country in a single digital community for everyone.

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Thinking about a new energy model and a sustainable economy, can’t be done without analyzing the food model of our societies. Global food demand will increase by 50% within 2050 (according to the latest FAO figures). This concerning trend is driven by the transition of several emerging countries to better and higher life standards, with totally new food habits and demand schemes. Meanwhile population growth is worrying and increasing and the climate change doesn’t help with a negative impact on the food production processes.

chart-sole-english

If we take a look to the last years change in the food production energy consumption, we have a better idea about the important connection between a sustainable economy and the food model. Projects like Ortissimi are really helpful in finding the right way to solve today and tomorrow issues.

food-production-energy-consumption

Food production energy consumption in kWh bln (my chart on FAO 2015 data)

 

[Header pic by Markus Spiske via Unsplash]

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