Website offers fresh, local food to students

Will Fowler

Brad Bathey had a problem. The Horticulture Research Center, where he worked, couldn’t sell enough of what it was growing.

When he was assigned to come up with a marketing plan in his horticulture enterprise class, he and three other students came up with an innovative way to solve two problems with one solution.

“I saw that the farm couldn’t compete marketing their produce within ISU,” said Bathey, senior in horticulture. “The four of us came up with the idea of selling produce online.”

The website launched at 7:30 p.m. July 17. Within three hours, the website sold 30 orders — its entire supply of cherry tomatoes and several other vegetables.

It received help from Nick Howell, the superintendent of the research center who had past ideas of an email sale system.

“They turned it into the magnificent website it is,” Howell said. “This website is something they’ve spent a lot of time developing.”

Because they can’t sell to nonstudents or compete with local growers, a student ID is required to access the website. The website includes recipes and profiles for every vegetable grown at the research center as well as nutritional information.

“It exploded,” Bathey said. “Everyone we talked to loved it. Then the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture got wind of it and offered to help fund us.”

The farm is planning to grow and expand as much as possible in the future, Bathey said. There are even plans to sell through the winter, if possible. Bathey is eager to continue working at the farm.

“I want to be 100 percent involved for the rest of my college career,” Bathey said. “I hope to start my own farm, and maybe continue into grad school.”

Bathey feels good about the future of the website and research center. Its success was emphasized by the sale of 60 beets alone, he said.

“I love beets, but I didn’t know that many people liked beets,” Bathey said with a laugh.  

Students can purchase the food here.