Sam Lillie the CEO and Founder of Vinder is going to be a household name someday and we will all say how did we live without it? Helping create a hyperlocal food market he brings local growers together with local eaters fueling our economy with healthy nutritious accessible food options!
The pre-chat includes thoughts and inspiration about Glacier National Park, the Olympic Peninsula and the Pacific Crest Trail. Takes about 3 months. and Sam’s Pacific Crest Trail confession “I hiked it in 2015. It took 5 months.”
It’s like Do That Thing… When the band has a one hit and they’re called the Wonders but they want it spelled Oneders… but everyone called them the Oneders!
Are you a millennial?!
I love millennials! This listener sends me this link on Facebook to this video bashing millennials but I love millennials because they are gonna be the generation that’s gonna do it! They’re already rockin’ this world! They care about social issues! They care about the planet! They care about the food they eat and feed their families! I’ve been working on my own version I really want to put together, I wrote my own verses.
Just another rockstar milennial to add to my list. All the millennial’s I talk to gardeners or in my podcasters…
… We’re a little lazy, but we find ways to be lazy so we find ways to be more efficient.
IDK, a lot of the millenials I know are just hardworking!
188. Veggie Vinder | Sam Lillie
Vinder is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and buy local produce. We want to connect home growers who have an abundant garden with community members looking for local produce. We’re here to create a transparent agricultural system that informs consumers about who’s growing their food, how it’s being grown, and where. Vinder makes it easy to buy ultra local food, boost your community’s economy, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name’s Sam Lillie I’m 26! I’m founder and CEO of VeggieVinder.com
Port Townsend Washington which is a Victorian, artsy seaport village in the upper left peninsula of Washington.
About 9-10,000 people, it’s predominantely a retirement town. I’m originally from San Diego. I graduated in 2015 from San Jose State. After I graduated I hiked from Canada to Mexico on the Pacific Crest Trail! After the trail, I had to re-adjust to society because I had done it solo! I was talking to trees and animals.
I applied to 106 jobs, across 4 different states. I have a degree in Business. I recieved one offer to sell background check technology sales which I declined.
I developed a mobile app for plant Identification. When I was hiking, I saw all these different plants and flowers.
take a photo
a couple of them
my garden answers is one
I can’t remember the name of the other off the top of my head.
I drew up a bunch of designs for this mobile app
I went to the Silicon Valley business plan competition
made it to the finals!
- pitched at the semis
- placed last in the finals
pretty much just like “good job” but still a lot you have to do! Still need to make some changes.
That’s still AWESOME!
I learned a ton! When I came back I was kind of torn up. I had worked about 5 months. It was hard to be told it wasn’t the right product. I took a look at how much it would cost between $5-700,000. It’s not like I have an extra $700k. So I took a step back to think about what I wanted to do.
Young Professionals Round Table Discussion
I went into the Business Resource Center. They said come back to a young professionals meeting for a Rountable discussion. I came back and we went through the positives and negatives.
- cost of living is kind of high
- have to work 2-3 jobs to live here and make ends meet
- there is not a lot of time to go to Farmer Markets because of time limits so they end up going to Safeway which is easily accessible and low quality
talking about these problems
I think I can help them out in some way. I said, if you have a service that has
- access to local produce
- reasonalby priced
- have the option to be delivered
- you would use it
every person in the room said yes
I said ok, I’ll figure it out
I walked home, in late June. I saw everything growing in front yards. What if you could just buy from a neighbor? Why not? I walked up to a front door, with a big apple tree in the yard, knocked on the door, I said, Hey, I noticed you have apples. Have you ever thought about selling them?
Usually the response would be “no.” So, I’d ask, well would you be interested
all right why not
I’ll be back
I just walked door to door and asked if I could see veggies and fruits.
So I started on biking these orders delivered 300lbs of backyard produce over the frist 3 months. I was probably biking 50 miles a week!
I want that job that sounds awesome!
It was a lot of fun! Meeting the growers! They would invite me into their gardens! I would get my hands in the soil and I would learn all these different garden systems!
I’d be meeting the buyers! Usually families! I’d have a big box of veggies and knock on the door, I remember having a kid open the door and yell, “YEAH! VEggies!”
I thought wait a minute! When was the last time a kid excited over veggies and taking big bites of kale!
amazing experience to see that
parents got to see
they get a printout
I feel like I’m talking to like the guy who started amazon years before he launched amazon! IDK why I’m addicted to business podcasts. You have to listen to Entrepreneur on Fire! You should get on Entrepreneur on Fire! He’s always saying things like do things that don’t scale. My husbands alwaays like where’s the app for when you just hae a little bit of extra carrots or beets… She needs it on a consistnet sale.
And what’s the guy (Mark Cuban) on Shark Tank who’s like I don’t even want to talk to you if you haven’t gone out and done door-to-door sales. And here you are riding your bike! I love that you’re telllng people about their farmer! And you’re educationg people !Look I didn’t know I could do this!
their growing methods
what kinds of
is it permaculture
That’s cool too
some are gardener’s themselves
now that it’s another online platform you can communicate with others
- share tips and tips
- insect infestation
- can ask “has this happened to you?”
- “what have you done to solve it?”
not being able to Safeway or your Coop you don’t produce enough
getting rid of the excess you can’t eat
that get’s rotting on the ground or compost.
- All the cherries, or kale that’s always there…
- apples that always…
can’t give them away, and you’re neighbors
You’re so not lazy?!!! Maybe you weren’t talking about yourself? What did you say that trail was 2500 miles?
I hear so much what your doing, I know this is gonna be a great thing, the way you went to the meeting and said this is the problem and you found the solution. And the way people can communicate with each otehrs. And Then when I interviewed JM Fortier he was taling about an app that was like bugs are coming through and you’re puttin gthat connection in there too, if they have problems with a bugs or to give them a heads up.
Yeah! If it’s what’s happening in their area! Can be very geographic specific…
We were talking about not being able to supply Coops with veggies, and Vinder was just made for the excess! If you can’t eat it you can list it and just sell it to that other neighbor
community member can be 5 blokcs away
They know where it’s being grown
How it’s being grown
They can have it delivered there’s an option for that
Grower deliveres and they can charge what ever they want for a delivery fee
their own price for their veggies
don’t charge our growers
you make money
20% to service fee
Make it so much easier to make it fit in people’s schedules.
which is great
- fee for the day
- annual membership cost
- daily sales
- adds up for cost
from the farmer’s I talk to the farmer’s profit margin is just 1%. Which I think is ludicrous. Distributers charge 35 and 55% of total sales.
Put all the work
- pest maintenance
- delivering it to the farm stands
They shouldn’t be making 45% of the total sale
why we don’t charge our growers anything
they’re doing all the work
For the farmer if they use Vinder
could accept pre-orders which would allow them to know what they are going to sell at the farmer’s market and reduce the waste of unsold produce.
A lot of times they just cut it in bulk and hope to sell it all.
- try to sell it the next day
- but another day off the vine so nutrients are being depleted
- deliver it to food banks which is an incredible thing
more people need fresh produce
a little bit of an outlet or a useful tool for farmers
used to be able to go online and place an order, talk to your grower and find a time that you guys can meet up it cuts down on the harvest
Our average time from harvest is about 30 minutes
sometimes you’re getting lettuce with dirt still on it!
That’s better then when you get that stuff at teh store and they spray it!
Average Time from Harvest to Market
For lettuce it could be 2 weeks before it gets from farm to market.
Vinder‘s average is under 5
hyper local produce!
Tell me about your first gardening experience? Growing up in So Cal I imagine your parente had a garden but maybe not.
My very first memory, I’m reaching far back, I remember a backyard garden.
I don’t remember what they were growing I’m sure
I remember the sunflowers being taller then I was. I was getting lost in this vegetable garden.
I really started into it a year ago, I figured if I’m interacting with these gardeners I need to.
I joined a master’s gardener’s class for grow your own veggies
I dove in and talked to the Vinder Community
- 2 raised beds
- different soils
- pelleted chicken fertilizers
jump in get your hands dirty. Which brings me to your next one, I’ve been listening to your podcast. Talking about a no till garden
that sounds great! That’s how lazy I am, if I don’t have to till it? That’s fantastic!
My husband’s the gardener over the years. It might be David Montgomwery who lives where you, it would be just the last one. I keep thinking this should have a cover crop here? We never should have let this crab grass…. I did five interviews on Feb 24th, 2 are with soil scientists is it all comes down to, the key to growing anything, native trees, eggplants, fruit trees, flowers, herbs, anything it’s all about soil. IT’s will help you get nutrient dense vegetables.
The infomration is GOLD!
It’s cause of amazing rockstar millenials like you. Megan Cain’s always my best downloaded episode because her website is about how to get the most out of the garden, being efficient.
I love the whole Hyper local part!
How people always had a garden. More local prodcue!
Huge push for local gardens and community gardens. Especially after WWII with the vicotry gardens!
How did you learn how to garden organically?
I originally learned from my mom a little bit, I just asked what she knew, can you get out in the garden with me and teach me a little.
- master gardener’s class
- wealth of knowledge
- the Vinder community
- meet my growers
shake their hand and ask what they produce in their systems
community has grown quite a bit.
We launched the online platform.
Originally it was just post it’s on the bicycle board. We saw all the problems with that.
We launched on February 26th, now we are in 22 cities, across 11 states!
It kind of blew up with people pretty quickly
We went back to the Silicone Valley and we took first!
Say alright, I took your advice
made some changes
hit the ground and this is what I got!
This is what we’re bringing the table!
I knew it! You’re solving a problem a lot of people have.
Building community! Going to that very first meeting of young professionals. One of my favorite episodes for Earth Day was a girl Heather who lived in the Olympic Pennisula too!
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
Kale was just rampant we had
- red Russian
- green curly
- purple curly kale as well
that just took off. What else did we have?
We have one bed of strawberries that are just delicious!
The ones that taste like one instead of just looking like one!
That’s the incredible part! Being able to walk into your side yard and flavor just explodes.
Mike is always making fun of me when I bring home strawberries and hes like nice bowl of pesticieds there. He deosn’t even like me to throw the scraps in teh compost.
Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?
there’s a ton!
I wanna try
there’s a grower in Greely CO
- lucid gem tomatoes
- try to grow them
- size of a beefsteak tomato
- red purple
- have a yellow meat and a dark red
They sound like a tie-dye tomatoe would be fun!
- that’s the other cool thing
- the variety you can find
plant all sorts of different heirlooms
- atomic grape cherry tomatoes
- Macedonian peppers
You can’t find this stuff at grocery small scale!
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
didn’t work at all! That flowered pretty quick. So that’s something I’ll have to learn.
cauliflower and brocolli.
Poor Mike had a deer get in there last night. One thing he learned I think is brocolli does better in the fall because it bolts.
There’s 2 things that cause a traffic jam in Port Townsend a red light and deer.
I was laughing in Glacier Park I took a picture of like 16 people taking a picture of a deer in Glacier Park!
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Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?
Because I live in the pacific northwest it rains all the time! Weeds are just an everyday problem. You can do hours and hours of weeding and it rains and the next day it’s like it doubled!
Is there a tool you like to use?
There’s a little japanese tool
get into the root
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.
harvesting isn’t a favorite…
That’s why we do it! We like the way it looks! And want to eat delicious food!
I think it depends, if it’s hot out and you have a big overwhleming patch of weeds. I go back and forth with don’t want to go get that lettuce and
- can be meditative
- zone it
- get some tunnel vision
That’s why I’m a proponent of deep beds, Mike planted this little mini-farm this year and I’m like where are the deep beds. I’ve been working on taking over his older beds closer to the house. I always call it like the chalk bed effect, it reminds me of like wiping off the chalk board when your done and your rows look all neat.
What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?
Everything has to do with the soil. So pay close attention to it!
- if you don’t have the right soil nutrients
- chemical balance
You’ll be fighting an uphill battle from the get go
Do you send in for a soil test?
I haven’t I would like to
something for Vinder
gardeners could see there. That would be a great tool.
A lot of people have been talking about soil tests. This guy Todd Ulizio who runs Two Bear Farm talked about getting the soil test done and explained how to do it at the Free The Seeds Event this spring. Jean Martin Fortier talked about it in our interview. Didn’t they say that Eliot coleman was missing like one weird element like Boron so it’s good to know. So does Vinder come as an app or it’s a website or what?
Right now it’s just a website
plans to make it an app
working on that….
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
I’m a big fan of asparagus. I recently had a recipe
- roasted asparagus
- with smoked bacon
- with cracked salt and pepper
It was just delicious! Probably the bacon fat but worth it!
Are you growing asparagus?
No but there are a bunch of growers in the area
went to a garden last weekend
7 feet high! I had no idea that it could get that tall!
Like the stalk was 7 feet?!
stalk itself was probably 5 feet
It was massive! Huge! I have a picture with 2 of my interns were standing in front. It comes over the top of us!
you go to the gardens
mind gets blown
what it really looks likes…
A favorite internet resource?
google by far is my most used
My friend who was here is a veternarian and she was saying people come in and refer to “Dr. Google”
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?
by Michael Ableman
all about urban farms. Which is just fascinating.
I’m gonna have to check that out, not only are urban farms really popular and I love books like that.
urban farm movement is incredible
What’s it called not reclamation but resiliency, not just making it productive but saving the planet.
turning empty lots into flourish
And doing it in a way that’s environmentally friendly. Cover crops and naturally replenishing the soil with good nutrients!
If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?
so if you’re a gardener looking to sell onVinder as soon as you list something you will be placed on the map!
There could be the something growing or something ripe
You have 2 options
If you mark it as growing it’s displayed on the map but you can’t purchase it
mark it as ripe and people can buy it!
You get emails. Sam has requested rosemary.
You can be as active or inactive as you want
not designed as a job but it’s a way to make some
- side cash
- selling that excess that you have
If you want to get started in business for the first time
- just jump in and do it
- try to do it the
- see if your idea is valued in your market
- You don’t want to spend $30k and find out your market doesn’t want it.
I started on bicycle and learned that people that would actually use something like this. First I validated the idea.
- home gardeners would sell
- they would buy it
- buy it online
I did that for I started Vinder for less then 20$ using a bicycle.
- Jump in!
- Make the jump!
- Do it!
see if it is a valid idea and hand on for that ride!
You have to get on John’s show. I really feel like I’m talking to one of those CEO’s we all wonder how did we ever live without it?
if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
The thing that I’d like to see especially in super markets, is the info of how that produce is grown! You go to the supermarket full of traditional produce. I’d like a plaque that says
- this is the farm where it’s coming from
- these are the chemicals and pesticides and insecticides that we used
- travel distance
- how long it’s off the vine
if that was implemented we would see a huge decrease in purchases of “the traditional produce ” and we would see a skyrocket for the demand for
- hyper local produce!
- pure to pure contact
- get to know who you grower is
- provides a connection with your community
- makes a stronger community
On both an emotional and personal side as well as on the economic side. The money stays within the community.
more transparent agricultural system
- environmentally friendly
- soil nutrients
- cover crops
- methods that replenish the nutrients in the soil!
I get so frustrated when I go to the stoe and see watermelon in the store in Montana in January!
Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
Gardening doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be as simple as one or two indoor plants. Experiment, learn, and indulge in the delicious backyard delicacies you can grow. Life’s a garden…dig it. #Dowhatsripe
How do we connect with you?
Check out the website www.veggievinder.com If there are any gardeners out there with excess produce, sign up and post your produce to be put on the map. List it even if it’s growing, mark it as “Growing” so people in your community know you’re there and have something to look forward to. They’ll be able to see what you have but won’t be able to purchase.
I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you reach out and want to Skype. I’m always happy to do that. I’m more of a in-person, face to face kinda guy.
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