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GROWING COMMUNITIES

A conversation with Deema Tamimi, CEO of GivingGarden.

WRITTEN BY ANN M. EVANS

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The so-called Age of Exploration in the 15th – 18th centuries found explorers traveling the world in search of new trading routes and partners. In today’s Age of Applications, entrepreneurs are searching for new ways to trade as well. With dating, driving directions, and dining apps already on our mobile devices, why not download a gardening one as well?

The co-founders of GivingGarden, an app launching this spring, are ready. They want to create a movement of urban gardeners with tech in their hands, using community-level analytics that help them garden, trade what they grow, and meet other gardeners. The aim is to use real-time and crowdsourced data to help gardeners grow the right foods based on their locations and communities; enable gardeners and local food lovers to give and get extra homegrown produce; and grow communities around food through profiles and easy knowledge-sharing tools. It’s similar to the popular Nextdoor app, which connects neighbors on a private, social network. Think of GivingGarden as Nextdoor’s green little sister.

“Our space is building community, but around edible foods,” says CEO and founder Deema Tamimi.

“GivingGarden is aimed at a new version of a gardener,” she says, “one who looks to a phone for answers and is digitally savvy, a culture excited to share selfies.”  

Tamimi herself accesses essays and writers on sites such as Medium, Civil Eats, and Food Tank (a global online community pushing for food system change) via her laptop. She’s writing for those platforms as well as creating the app.

Tapping their roots

Tamimi lives in Davis’ original green neighborhood, Village Homes, with her husband, fellow GivingGarden co-founder Josh Livni, and their children. He gardens. She cans and cooks. They both work in tech and have for more than 15 years — she for Xbox and YouTube in product management and marketing, followed by a variety of startups.

How did she and Livni go from working and living in Silicon Valley to the more pastoral, small-town setting of Davis?

“We both wanted to have more outdoor space and share a common interest in agriculture,” she says. “Davis was close enough to stay connected to our tech roots and network, but far enough to get space and perspective. Access to the university, the great schools for our kids, and the ag scene were all big draws.”

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What you’ll dig

GivingGarden aims to eliminate intimidation by using information specific to the user on his or her mobile device.

“GivingGarden will tell a gardener what he or she needs to know when it’s time,” she says. “People want to be successful, but they don’t always have time in their day. GivingGarden brings that opportunity to them. This is using technology to help them be outside and do well.”

She says the app will provide more than information. It also will connect gardeners with other gardeners, let them know what to give and get in a virtual marketplace, and eventually even address the issue of urban food insecurity.

Every generation needs the tools that best work for them. With any luck, GivingGarden will get more hands in the soil. You can learn more about the app and the founding team at Givinggarden.io.

Ann M. Evans is an author and gardener who lives in Davis. Her latest book is The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook (Elderflower Press, 2016). For details, contact her at Annmevans.com.

The app, which will be free, should be available in late spring. To learn more, visit Givinggarden.io.

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