Connecting Urban Farming to Mobile Technology

June 27, 2019

App ThumbnailAssociate Professor of History Natale Zappia is helping consumers connect with local urban farmers with a tap on their mobile screens.

Zappia worked closely with Richard Lee, chair of the board of directors for the Garden School Foundation, to create Open Gaarden, a mobile app now available for download on iPhone and Android devices. Their goal is to make green spaces part of everyday life, making them part of the foreground rather than the background.

“Open Gaarden (Danish for “the farm”) brings together the past, present, and potential future of your city into one visual platform,” said Zappia. “All around us, gardens, farms, orchards, native plants–plant life in all its incredible abundance–shape our homes, our communities, our city, and our world. Many of these green spaces are hidden in plain sight.”

Some of the features of the app include finding a garden near you, connecting with fellow urban farmers, and identifying new garden spaces, among others. Open Gaarden also reveals what these spaces may have looked like in a more agricultural past.

Next month, Zappia will be presenting the app to the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Amber Orozco ’13, who is a program associate the LAFPC and was an environmental studies/science double major at Whittier, helped organize the meeting.

Zappia specializes in colonial/early national North America with an emphasis on the early modern borderlands of the Atlantic World, Pacific Rim, and Native America. His research and teaching explores the intersection of continental trading networks, food pathways, and ecological transformations in colonial North America. He also serves as co-director of the SUrF Garden Lab and project lead at the DigLibArts program.