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Rooted Carrot Mobile App Helps Local Food Co-op Members

Far Reach blog Rooted Carrot

Rooted Carrot is a community-owned cooperative market in the Cedar Valley of Iowa. Still looking for a location for its grocery market, Rooted Carrot was open to ideas to engage members outside of having a physical presence in the community. 

One way the co-op engages members and businesses in the community is with the Community Partners program where local businesses can become co-op members and offer discounts or gifts to co-op members.

Far Reach Partner Chris Rouw happens to be a co-op member who enjoys supporting local businesses and using his co-op discounts around town. “When I was at a local business, I didn’t have a great way to see if they were co-op partners or offering an incentive,” Chris said. “Plus, I would forget to take my co-op membership card to prove my status.”

As a developer, Chris had a technology solution to help himself and other members support local businesses and engage with the co-op: a mobile app. That way, members could see Community Partner benefits on the go (including ones close to a user’s current location) and have their co-op member card on them at all times.

Rooted Carrot mobile app membership cardRooted Carrot mobile app community partner mapRooted Carrot mobile app community partner listings

“We liked the idea of a mobile app for several reasons,” said Tom Wickersham, former board president at Rooted Carrot Cooperative Market. “First, we felt the app would help portray the organization as a strong, viable option for the community to get behind. Second, it could help us communicate Community Partner benefits to members.”

Before the mobile app, Rooted Carrot was communicating partner discounts on its website, through downloadable PDFs, and with printable cutouts to hang on the fridge. All of these got dated quickly as new partners were added or offers were changed. Tom said, “The app can be easily updated so everyone has the latest information at their fingertips.”

Chris worked with Rooted Carrot to understand what the focus of the app should be. He said, “We also helped them work in an agile/scrum manner. Even though there were many stakeholders to provide ideas and feedback, we worked with one client product owner on day-to-day decisions.

Tom said, “We appreciated Chris’s careful consideration of the work that was in front of us and his ability to navigate decisions by committee. There were a lot of different voices to work with.”

The mobile app development was completed using Xamarin for cross-platform development—a shared codebase for both the Android and iOS apps.

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Even though it’s for a local co-op, the app’s reach extends well beyond the Cedar Valley. “The Cedar Valley is one of several hundred communities working to establish locally sourced grocery stores, said Tom. “We learn from and support other communities.”

He continued, “When we presented the finished mobile app to the Food Co-op Initiative, we learned that we’re the only co-op in the country that has built a mobile app like this. It’s fun to be a leader in the industry.”

In the future, the co-op hopes to continue to use and expand the mobile app for co-op and community members. “We hope to use the app for even more member communication,” said Tom. “That could include anything from pushing out information about events to collecting feedback from members.”

Information about the co-op and membership options is available on its website

Do you have a mobile app idea? Reach out.