Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
Agri Leader

Review: Three ag-related apps are mixed bag


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Some smartphone apps can make eating local a little easier. At least, that’s the idea I had in mind when I selected three agriculture-related apps to review. Here’s what I think of each app.

Farmstand

The idea behind Farmstand is to bring you closer to farmers’ markets in your area. The app tracks where you are located, and when you tap to open it, it immediately lists farm markets that are near you. The Sarasota Farmers Market in downtown Sarasota popped up as my closest market, and the app told me when the market will open again and how far away it is. I also saw a colorful but somewhat blurry produce shot at the market that was posted by another app user almost four months ago.

When I tap “Find a Market,” a small map comes on the screen, followed by a listing of all farmers’ markets within about an hour. For some of the markets, I can tap to see another related image or comment about the market. For most of them, I can only see the market name, address, hours and mileage from my house.

I noticed there are some newer markets not listed on the app. Also, some of the markets listed are seasonal and not open in the summer, but that’s not mentioned on the app.

The app offers a way to comment and post pictures on various markets. The app is easy enough to read and navigate, but the content needs a little more development by fellow app users or farm market managers to be completely useful. I wouldn’t rely solely on the app to find out where local markets are and when they are open. Also, it would be helpful if the app also listed farms that have their own on-site markets. That would expand the number of places where users can find locally-sourced food.

Visit FL Farms

This app, from the Florida Agritourism Association, also aims to bring users closer to Florida agriculture.

One advantage of this app is that it lists by category the kind of ag experience you may be seeking, be it a traditional farm, bird watching, U-pick or tours. If you tap on a destination shown on the map, it can show you the address and provide directions. The app also has a current list of upcoming agritourism events. It also has areas to leave comments, look for special deals and see photos.

Here’s my criticism: The places included represent just a small fraction of the many ag experiences you can have in the state, leading me to believe it only lists its members. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I would again caution to not rely only on the app to find your ag-related destinations.

Harvest

Of the three apps I reviewed, this one is my favorite. It has easy-to-read text, professional and colorful pictures, and helpful information. The aim of Harvest is to let users know what’s in season by month and even by state. Their listings for Florida right now include avocados, blackberries, grapes, mushrooms, okra, onions and snap peas. I click on one of those items, and I get about a half dozen tips on how to make the best selection. I also find out how much of a pesticide risk that item usually has. I then tap on “Storing” and learn where to store the item and how long it usually stays fresh.

If I’m interested in more than just local items, then I can tap into Harvest’s large produce guide, which you can navigate via an A-to-Z list on the right side of the screen. I tap on a random choice, and the same information appears regarding how to select and store the item.

If pesticide level risk is a priority for you, there’s a separate area on the app to search by item name or to see a list from lowest to highest risk (onions and avocados are on the low side; apples and strawberries are the two highest).

The first two apps I reviewed are free; Harvest has a one-time charge of $1.99. By the way, I bought these apps from the iTunes app store for my iPhone 5, but you can also check out some of the content anywhere you have Internet access by searching for the apps by name.

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