Location apps dominate the various App Stores available to smartphone owners but not many have the specific intention of connecting you with local produce in your area but also connecting you with the people behind that.
UK startup Lovefre.sh is launching its new service today that does just that, allowing users to create and share points of interest in their local area that sell or deliver fresh fruit, vegetables or serve great homecooked food in local restaurants.
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You don’t need to be signed up to use the service, simply downloading the iPhone app or visiting the HTML5 web app will allow you to view and learn more about the businesses and fresh food providers in the area. If you want to submit your own location, the sign-up process within the Lovefre.sh application is incredibly easy; simply enter your name, email address and enter the details of the place you wish to list.
The app is media rich, connecting food producers with their communities. Lovefre.sh encourages users to check-in when they visit local producers, giving them the option to affix a comment, photograph or an audio recording. Each time the user does this, they gain points, earning them rewards and additional bonuses.
Each location is tagged using the iPhone’s GPS chip, notifying other users in the area of its existence. If a business is listed in locally, it will display its location, type of food or drink and a description, notifying them of what the business can offer.
Lovefre.sh was created after its co-founder Mark Spofforth tried to source some local Cheshire Cheese when he relocated to that area. Realising that there wasn’t a service that could notify smartphone users of local producers in the market, he immediately looked into creating a service that could help him and others find the best quality food that wasn’t found within a supermarket.
The app differs from other located-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla by removing the check-in badges, instead rewarding users with points and rewards for checking-in. Spofforth tells us that Lovefre.sh doesn’t intend on becoming another directory listing service, in fact he wants the company to remain as transparent as possible, letting producers and communities connect directly.
To ensure that businesses get the most out of the service, producers can list their business for free. In the near future, Lovefre.sh intends to open up its API and toolkit to producers, giving them the option to offer bespoke loyalty schemes to their customers and utilize additional features on the service.
For example, a local farmer would be able to specify that a customer has to check-in at least five times at their premises to be able to quality for a discount or offer, all of which can be specified using a very simple dashboard on the Lovefre.sh website.
Businesses will also soon be able to claim a listing for their business if it has been created already, adding a website, phone number and also list their opening times. These features would become available to the business for a small monthly fee.
The founders of Lovefre.sh want their users to tell their own food stories and to help facilitate this, each check-in can be shared to Twitter or Facebook so that their friends who aren’t already using the service can still be made aware of a local producer in a specific area. The iPhone application’s functionality is almost completely mirrored by Lovefre.sh’s web app, meaning a users friends can jump on their smartphone, view check-ins and associated content without having to sign up.
The screenshot above illustrates the beauty of the service. Each location is tagged with rich media and mapping services, guiding users but also educating them on each separate business or seller. The example above shows an allotment holder selling produce outside of his home for charity, the photo shows what is on offer and there is also a soundbite that plays back an interview with the stall holder.
Lovefre.sh launches today and is available on the Apple App Store and via the HTML5 web app located at http://app.lovefre.sh/. If you want to be able to help support the producers in the local area and enjoy great tasting food, this app could be exactly what you are looking for.