Like many who have studied what they eat and how that food gets to their plate, each member of the Cropolis team has a passion for the story behind every meal.

We have found the story behind food to be a combination of brilliant coordination and puzzling dysfunction. A common passion for food is what brought us together, but the perplexing questions are what drove us to build solutions. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we experience a unique glimpse into how food culture can thrive within a city, yet be so disconnected from the surrounding abundant agriculture resources. It became our mission to discover why this is the case and provide a solution.

Our first attempt at solving this problem was perhaps somewhat misguided:

“If we don’t have access to high-quality local food, it must be a supply issue. Let’s start a farm.”

And so, we went through all the steps of bringing a vertical, greens and herbs farm to Southwestern, PA. We saw this as the solution to the seasonality, food insecurity, food deserts, and other food problems of this area. Starting this farm led us deep into the food community in Pittsburgh and crossed our paths with many who drive the shape and future of our diets. Through this process, a common theme began to emerge; participation in the local food economy was not constricted by a lack of supply or demand, but rather the sheer complexity of buying local.

We focused on business to business food networks, dug deeper, and this is what we learned. These networks are built on relationships and handshake deals. This informality is both an asset and a liability. Through these networks, the city can reach a supply of supreme quality products usually accompanied by a motivating backstory. However, they are also inherently difficult to join, inconsistent, and difficult to manage. We discovered food relationships managed through text messages, phone calls, emails, and sometimes even fax. The difficulty of running ordering, payment, and all other aspects of a food network through these channels began to compile, and we understood just how time-consuming local food is.

Why does it have to be this way?

It doesn’t. We believe that many of these issues can be solved through technology and that the monumental progress we have experienced in food is only the beginning of a much larger movement given the right tools. Through Cropolis, we aim to bring simple, thoughtful, and effective solutions to the biggest issues preventing the growth of local food. Our tools for farmers, distributors, and buyers focus on supplementing relationships, not replacing them. We are excited to participate in food and to spread the access and joy of the best quality food with others.

Agriculture is exciting. We’re here to help connect those who produce to their communities to share in a common interest: great food. I invite you to follow our progress by joining our waitlist and, perhaps even becoming an early adopter. I, and the rest of our team look forward to working with you and building the Cropolis community.

Christian Ference
Cropolis Co-Founder, CEO