Why do I design an app for the farmers’ market

“Design is not just what it looks like. Design is how it works.”
— Steve Jobs

Have you sampled the fresh fruit at your local farmers’ market? Farmers’ markets have evolved from ancient bazaars to a health conscious lifestyle. The farmers’ market offers us fresh, cheap, high-quality products, and a very nice social atmosphere. Going to the farmers market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. I design an app called “Fresi” to enhance farmers’ market experience for those people who care about food quality and healthy lifestyles.

During this process, I’ve gone through a lot of struggles and re-considerations about how technology affects our lives in different ways. I talked with farmers, managers, and customers to figure out how to make their lives more convenient with my product, while maintaining a casual and old-fashioned shopping experience at the same time.

How does Fresi work?
  1. Between accurate information and unexpected inspirations
Mountain View Farmers’ Market

It’s an exciting prospect to make an app for farmers’ markets in California. I’m a fan of farmers’ markets, but when I moved from the South Bay to the East Bay last year, I found out there was no way to get enough information about nearby markets through the web. Sometimes I tried different markets for several weeks to find out which one is better for my needs. There isn’t an application on the market yet with accurate locations and schedules of all the markets around for me to check. So I developed my app — Fresi.

Fresi offers three main features people request often: recommendations and deals of seasonal products, pre-order and pick up, local market schedule, and a map easy to follow. People can save time with that information to make their shopping experience efficient, and find inspiration from our seasonal deals and recipes. I feel it is good to combine technology with our daily needs in this way. It’s a design in between updated information and unexpected inspiration.

2. Between technology and old-fashioned way

Traditional Farmers’ Market — First Come, First Served

You might have some questions about this product, such as the pre-order feature. The farmers’ market is an old-fashioned style of grocery shopping. We go to markets because we can see and touch the fresh food, and make a purchase face to face. It should be first come, first serve, right? Yes, and no. For some normal agricultural products, there is no need to set the pre-order because it will make things complex. It’s not reasonable to ask farmers to separate potatoes and spinach into small bags and distribute to pre-ordered customers. However, for some special or limited seasonal products, or large amounts of purchases, pre-order is a better way. If we can pre-order through the app, farmers will know how much to prepare for the market.

We also set a time limit for pre-order, which is 1.5 hours before the farmers’ market closes. If you don’t pick up your order before that, your products will be sold to others. Although there are still some other considerations about that process, I’d like to see the progress for now based on farmers interviews’ and customers’ feedbacks. It’s not easy to find a balance between technology and the old-fashioned way. I don’t want to change how farmers’ markets work. I just tried to add a little bit of technology and make things easier. I hope it works!

3. Between online and the real world

Which is the real Caroline? Original Images from iheartitCBS

Millennials are already used to doing everything online, including myself. Sometimes the reliance on technology makes us lose our abilities to think independently or communicate face-to-face. I want to change this. I want to make farmers’ markets more popular among the younger generation, so they can enjoy an off-the-grid market experience every week, and engaged more in their neighborhoods.

I hope people can get basic information about nearby farmers’ markets, and pre-order some products through Fresi, but they have to go there in person to pick up their order. I believe they will love the relaxing and pleasant experience in the farmers’ market and participate in the activities.


Prototyping process

There are always positive and negative consequences of living in an increasingly technological world. I would like to build the product based on the advantages of technology, and push people forward to be active in their neighborhoods again. I still have a long way to go to find a perfect balance between the benefits of technology and all enjoyable interactions with people. That’s why I designed the Fresi app. I’ve learned so much during this progress, and I’ll continue to make technology improve our experience and bring us closer together.

If you feel interested to know more, please see the whole project here. If you want to talk about it, please feel free to leave a message. Fresi is an ongoing project. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!