You know those neighbors. The ones you see out in their backyard, picking their homegrown cherry tomatoes from their bountiful garden as you schlep off to the grocery store to buy the same exact thing…in a plastic box. What if instead of feeling guilty about the waste you’re about to add to the environment (not to mention your comparative laziness), you could just pay your neighbor for a serving of locally grown vegetables? That’s the idea behind Kayleigh Thompson’s new concept, Hyperlocal Market. Thompson is a recent design graduate from the Royal College of Art in London, but before moving to the city, she lived in a small town where locally sourced food was commonplace and interacting with the people who lived next door wouldn’t earn you the title of “that annoying neighbor.” “I wanted to challenge the way we consume food in London,” she said. “Originally coming from a small rural village in Yorkshire, my experience of how I buy and consume food has dramatically changed since moving to the city.”
Thompson was sick of her food being faceless, so for her graduate project she decided to create a system that would allow urban growers to connect with interested buyers in their general vicinity. Sellers would use a Thompson-designed toolkit to upload their goods to the Hyperlocal website and app. First, they take a picture of their goods, then they weigh their food (if necessary), price it, and label it using the included printer. From there, sellers will use an app to upload their photos to the marketplace and (hopefully) watch it get snatched up by an eager neighbor. “I designed the tools after speaking with urban food gardeners and makers,” she said. “They explained that it can be complicated to label and price food correctly.”
Of course, when creating a new system to sell food, there are logistics to be considered: Who will deliver the goods? How can you regulate for food quality? And what’s the most seamless way to get sellers paid? Thompson hopes that a test run in London will help to refine her prototype and bring it closer to becoming a reality. In the meantime, though, you can sill check out the hyperlocal movement with other neighborhood-centric products like Nextdoor, a social media site that facilitates neighbors’ communication about everything from safety issues to borrowing ladders. Though Hyperlocal Market’s current focus is on food, you can see how eventually it could adopt the Nextdoor mindset and become a commerce-based way for people to know what’s happening in their neighborhood. “The project is not only about local food, but also about information and finding what people are doing down the road and maybe even next door to you,” Thompson said.