12 p.m. Monday we were sitting around the table in our senior practicum class, about to pitch a story idea when one of our classmates leaned over and whispered, “You should interview Joey Lyman”. Initially I was thinking, we’ve already all agreed on an idea, let’s move forward. But out of curiosity, we turned to Google to see what this Cal Poly grad was all about. Within a few minutes, we had a relevant, intriguing story in front of us with local contacts that would likely make the interview process run relatively smooth. Our audio/video team member for the project, Mikaela Duhs, hopsed up and used what I’ve decided is her super power : the cellphone and scheduled an interview with our primary contact for the next morning.
10 a.m. Tuesday morning, our team of four headed out to meet Joey at the Cal Poly Organic Farm. Relying on trusty Google Maps, we winded through the hidden back roads of Cal Poly property that stretch for miles past the agriculture classes students complain about having to bike out to. The more cows and fewer people we passed, the more hesitant we became of where we were headed. Long story short and thanks to Joey’s directions over the phone … we made it to the new Cal Poly Organic Farm which is in a different location than the one labeled on Google Maps.
Our interview went well as we learned about Joey’s past as a Cal Poly biomedical student, and his ambitions as a young entrepreneur who landed a spot in the SLO HotHouse after receiving a grant. Since then, he’s developed his local food delivery service, Localsown.
After meeting with Joey for about an hour, we interviewed Victoria Ross, a member of the Cal Poly Organic Farm. Victoria is relevant to our story because Cal Poly Organic Farm is one of the “producers” Joey’s service works with. We learned a bit more about what it’s like to work with Localsown and then Victoria took us inside Cal Poly’s greenhouse.
12 p.m. Wednesday in class we worked to bring together the information we had gathered so far and develop a more focused angle. The challenge (which we had anticipated) was figuring out how to write the story in a way that doesn’t seem like native content or advertising. “I think there’s just such a different context that should be used in evaluating the business,” our interactive team member, Lindsay Mann said. We were trying to figure out how to present this business and which audience Localsown caters to most, in deciding whose perspectives we needed to include in our story.
12 p.m. Thursday I joined Mikaela to interview Cal Poly agriculture business professor, Tim Delbridge. He gave us insight into the agricultural and economic impact of businesses like Localsown. It was helpful to gain this background in our process of deciding on a specific angle to take.
“I think that this could be a really good thing for growers if it expands the direct marketing opportunities. Farms that are already selling at the farmer’s market might find this a convenient way to add a little bit of predictability to their growing and ordering processes,” Tim said.
3 p.m. Thursday Mikaela joined Joey at the Morro Bay Farmer’s Market to see his work in action. She followed him while he selected the produce he needed and proceeded to deliver the orders to his customers. Mikaela mentioned how the Morro Bay farmers folks said the San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market is the most difficult for producers, because it’s become such a tourist attraction. In reality, a large portion of the crowd consists of browsing students reluctant to pay the extra dollar for fresh produce.
6 p.m. Thursday evening, Mikaela, Lindsay, and I met Joey in front of the Cal Poly Organic Farm booth to watch the magic happen. In hand, he carried a paper list of customer orders and Trader Joe’s bag to fill with carefully selected foods. Mikaela and Lindsay joined Joey on two of his deliveries that night to see how the process works.
12 p.m. Monday in class we discussed more about how to present the story as a feature piece, focused on telling the facts without any hint of advertising. Mikaela mentioned how helpful it was to meet with Professor Delbridge and learn about the benefits Localsown could provide the community. “It’s a new way to solve foods problems by merging the economic and agricultural markets … the story is there, we just have to be careful in how we communicate it” Mikaela said.
Megan Healy, our writer, talked about how one aspect of the story we should make sure to cover is Joey’s future plans to outsource the company. “I want to follow-up with Joey about the outsourcing because I think that’s a key component of the story,” Megan said. Our focus for the second week consisted of tying up loose ends and trying to get in contact with other customers of Joey’s newly developed business. The newness of it was probably the most challenging part of the story, because though people were excited about it, there was very little the producers or even customers had to say since it is just in the process of taking off.
The rest of the week consisted of sifting through minutes of video footage, doing last minute follow-ups, and fully developing our story of how farmer’s market came to the front door.