live / 2016

A digital green thumb for the urban-scape

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Plantaware

Plantaware helps people grow food at home


Please describe your project proposal.

Plantaware will support the growth of fresh local food, beautify life with living plants, and provide better connection to the urban environment we live in.

We’ll make LA a garden of food and beauty, while offering Angelenos personalized knowledge and tools to grow plants, any plants, successfully.

Our community will provide a place to connect, get location specific and obtain specific instructions related to any crop of interest.

Which of the live metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Access to healthy food
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Resilient communities
  • Tree canopy cover

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • n/a

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to live?

LA brings together people of diverse social and cultural backgrounds. Many, no matter where they come from, are interested in urban farming as a way to make LA more self sufficient, sustainable, beautiful, and connected.

Plantaware is a web and mobile social community space for people interested in gardening and urban farming. It offers the tools for people to interact with each other, share their knowledge and “home grown” product, as well as receive personalized, hyper-local information about the plants they want to grow.

Of the 3+ million LA households, over 1 million have shown interest in food gardening. Still, only a few actually do so. There are many who would like to, but do not know how or where to begin. We look to fill this space and become that social community and knowledge place for “All-Things-Plants”.

Our vision is to have LA become a garden of food and beauty. Our mission is to connect people, and to offer anyone who is interested, the personalized hyper local knowledge and tools to grow any plant successfully.

A key innovative concept developed by Plantaware for its community is the GrowCycle. GrowCycles serves as a framework for knowledge that is time and place dependent as well as the hub for communicating instructional data-sets in a fun and engaging way. The GrowCycle provides all the information necessary for tracking a plant’s life cycle and configures itself for the plant’s local environment incorporating real-time data from weather and other public services.

GrowCycles generate weekly garden instructions, with tips, suggestions, and to-dos, specifically tailored to a given garden and plant. They include: tips about sustainable gardening methods that won’t deplete your wallet, suggestions about what will grow well in your garden, and GrowCycle generated to-do lists to remind you of things to look after in your garden that are delivered as text, videos and pictures to communicate the relevant information.
The GrowCycle is the hub of personalized information and its delivery to our members. In our context, personalized information is the intersection of plant, place, method, and real-time data.

We plan to begin our online community in LA and the San Gabriel Valley. We are truly hands on, so we plan to go door to door and invite residents of these communities to join. Our experience suggests that almost 25% of residents, have tried their hand in food growing, and did not continue on the path for lack of information and support. We assembled a team of engineers and business people with extended background in urban farming and online community building. Our work showed us that it’s not about technology but about connecting people and knowledge.

Plantaware will bring together and aggregates all people who are interested in urban gardening and farming in Los Angeles, its neighborhoods and communities.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

3 metric categories will be used over the next 12 months to evaluate our work and progress:

People: Community Engagement Community engagement is the number of people that join, be a part of, and contribute to our community. We will also track organic growth in membership outside our targeted LA communities. Measurements include: number of registered users, number of active users on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, the variety of GrowCycles used, and the number of farm/garden locations in the community, etc.

Plants: GrowCycles (GC) We will begin the community with 10 initial GCs, and measure the use and comments we receive on each. We will also engage the community in the modification of existing GCs and in the creation of new ones. Key measurements will include: the number of GCs, comments on GCs, number of GCs completed or abandoned, etc.

Product: Plantaware online and mobile community Online community will begin with a minimal product, containing limited features that will grow over time through dialog with users. Use of agile development will allow us to prioritize community needs. Initial features include: membership, GC activation, and comment threads. Measurements used on product development are use-case growth, backlog expansion, and the ability to integrate new features to address community needs.

These 3 metrics categories, will give us a quantitative and qualitative picture of Plantaware’s progress and impact in the communities we serve.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles
  • etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers
  • etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • n/a