What? Potago – a web app to distribute unwanted food to reduce food waste, at Major League Hacking (MLH) Landing Hack
When? 11th – 12th April 2015
Where? PayPal HQ in London
Who? Will Mathewson and myself
What About It?
The idea was to create a web app that would producers, suppliers, and farmers etc, to post up any unwanted food they had – for example potatoes or carrots that wouldn’t pass supermarkets’ visual quality standards for being odd-shapes – but are otherwise fine to eat, and anyone in the area would get a notification to alert them so if they wanted to go pick it up directly for whatever price was set by the producer. This was because there is loads of food rejected and wasted every year, but often it isn’t in large enough quanitities to justify the logistical costs of the likes of food banks collecting them, and it would be nice the producers could still profit from selling them, even if that was at a discounted price.
If you are interested you can see what was finally submitted at the DevPost page here (the description being written by Will).
I set about planning to develop the front end and try and incorporate possibly the Esri API for the location data and we had a variety of ideas for the notification procedure such as using the Twilio API. We chose to develop a responsive web app, as opposed to any native app, because neither of likes developing native applications much.
I took a well-timed break from hacking partway through to go and watch The Grand National (horse race for those who don’t know) and The Boat Race (Oxford-Cambridge one for those that don’t know that either) at a local pub with Will – and for the first time in my life I had actually backed the winning horse! Woop! It has to be said that not only was the venue for this hack a really lovely one but also it was in a lovely location and we were able to take proper breaks from coding in the early hours of the morning to watch the sunrise across the river and go for a very beautiful stroll down.
Unfortunately as the end drew near, it became apparent that Will had got somewhat distracted by the Lego and didn’t really build the back end (even though I had said he could do it in Ruby, despite Python being ~better~…). *sigh* I suppose having done something similar myself at Hack The Burgh I couldn’t really criticise too much but still, he could at least have not spent the couple of hours I was asleep breaking my front end as well…
Anyhow he did then offer to compensate for this by doing the pitching speech at the end in which he stood up and confessed to not having done anything but build Lego. So yeah, we didn’t win any prizes for that project but at least I can say I tried, got more experience in front-end development (some, I still don’t think I can get CSS to cooperate), and I had a lot of useful and interesting interactions with the sponsors.
Also, I then went on to win a Pebble smartwatch in the raffle/mini-game from Esri! Two consecutive random hackathon prizes, so I couldn’t complain on that front either, although I admit I may have given that Pebble away to my youngest brother as his birthday present a week later (many brownie points for that present).