Shoppers picking through ripe tomatoes, sniffing fresh herbs and selecting fresh fish at local farmer’s markets are thinking of tonight’s dinner – not the details of the vendor’s transactions.
That’s been the focus of Alex Lindeman ’15, whose iPad app is making it easier to turn produce into profit.
He spent the past two years developing Market Manager, an app that uses technology in place of paper-and-pencil record keeping. The software supports the operation of five local farmer’s markets in Fredericksburg, King George and Spotsylvania.
Launched this spring, the app records market activity and financial transactions.
“The app allows them to replace their clipboard with an iPad,” said Lindeman, a computer science major. “The transactions they used to do by hand, they can now enter into the app, which creates spreadsheets and reports about their data.”
The Arlington native first got involved in the project through a software engineering course his junior year. Lindeman worked with a team to develop specifications for the system and create a prototype. By the end of the course, the product wasn’t complete, but Lindeman was hooked on making it work.
“It was a first step in the right direction but not a finished project,” said Lindeman.
He continued to work with TheFarmersMarket.co staff and even taught himself Objective-C, the programming language for Apple products.
“It’s like learning a different spoken language with all new grammar or punctuation,” said Lindeman, who mastered the code step-by-step through online tutorials and support groups.
TheFarmersMarket.co staff member Bill Brooks said the app will simplify and centralize the data captured across all of the farmer’s markets.
“It will significantly expedite the reporting required for the grants that support our programs,” he said.
With the project complete, Lindeman is sharing his code so other farmer’s markets can benefit from his creation.
“Now that I know what I’m doing, it’s a lot more fun than I expected,” said Lindeman who’s already snagged a job as a web developer for a public relations firm in Washington, D.C.
His favorite part of the project?
“I was able to help someone.”