Here’s the stark reality. By 2050, we’ll need to feed 10 billion people on this planet. In the United States, we currently waste 30 – 40 percent of our food supply. Non-sustainable farming and distribution practices are causing environmental degradation. These are just a few of the huge challenges in our food and agricultural system that need serious innovation. Tackling those challenges was the objective of the Apps for Ag Hackathon that took place this last weekend at The Urban Hive in Midtown and culminated on the stage at the California State Fair.

50 participants gathered at The Urban Hive on Friday evening and formed into 12 teams, named after fruits and vegetables, and toiled away through the weekend to address significant challenges in food and ag, with special emphasis on:

  • Urban Agriculture
  • Food Sustainability
  • Food Waste
  • Drought & Water

What can teams possibly come up with over the course of a weekend? How about an app that uses a photo from an ordinary cell phone camera to detect mold on produce, or an app that will help growers identify crop diseases quickly through AI and machine learning, or simplifying the shipping process for farmers and truckers, or matching unemployed veterans with worker needs in the agricultural community. These are just a few of the ideas that would be pitched during the final presentations.

After a marathon of coding and preparing for presentations, teams gathered at the California State Fair on Sunday to pitch their ideas before a panel of judges, including; Joshua Tuscher of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Robert Trice, investor and founder of The Mixing Bowl Hub; Jenna Rodriguez, product manager at Ceres Imaging; Ann Dunkin, chief information officer for the County of Santa Clara; and Jessica Smith, vice president of Strategic Partnerships at AngelHack. Winners were judged on: Impact & viability,  Collaboration & presentation,  Technology.

Now, without further ado, the winners of the 2017 Apps for Ag Hackathon are:

1st Place: Dr. Green (team pumpkin)

The app will help growers identify crop diseases quickly through AI and machine learning. They can take a photo of symptoms and get a diagnosis or ask a question about symptoms via message feature.

  • Sreejumon Kundilepurayil (Team Lead)
  • Vidya Kannoly
1st Place: Dr. Green (team pumpkin)

1st Place: Dr. Green (team pumpkin)


2nd Place: Greener (team beet)

Home gardeners can take a photo of symptoms and quickly get a diagnosis and recommended IPM treatment.

  • Scott Kirkland (Team Lead)
  • John Knoll
  • Calvin Doval
  • Shiang-Wan-Chin
2nd Place: Greener (team beet)

2nd Place: Greener (team beet)


3rd Place Team: The Farm Table (team tomato)

The app aims to make farms more economically sustainable and educate the public about food through agritourism.

  • Heather Lee (Team Lead)
  • Will Mitchell
  • Zhenting Zhou


3rd Place Team: The Farm Table (team tomato)

3rd Place Team: The Farm Table (team tomato)


This was the fifth Apps for Ag hackathon, and the second organized by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, statewide division of the University of California system.

Congratulations to the all who participated and a big thanks to the organizers for putting on such a great event here in the Sacramento region. We look forward to seeing the progress from the teams and to next year’s event.

If you’d like to see what the action was like during pitch day, watch this Periscope video.