Published on 2 June 2014
A USC student’s plan for a mobile phone application that encourages sustainable food sourcing and consumption across the region will be outlined at the World Environment Day Festival on Sunday 8 June.
Rowan Schindler, 24, of Mooloolah, is developing the iForage app with the input of other USC students and staff including Lecturer in Serious Games Development Ben Rolfe and Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering Helen Fairweather.
They will be among the line-up of USC researchers presenting bright ideas for sustainability at a fun, new forum at the festival, to be held from 10am to 4pm at USC’s Sippy Downs campus.
Rowan, who is in the final semester of his Arts degree, majoring in Journalism and History, first raised the concept at this month’s Startup Weekend at the Innovation Centre. It was part of his participation in a USC Business Entrepreneurship course.
After gaining the support, he is now pursuing a business plan for the app which will identify the locations of free food across the Coast and offer advice on sustainable food consumption, such as edible plant species.
“There are plenty of food resources that have been neglected or forgotten by people,” Rowan said, listing wild mango and banana trees, berries, leftover seasonal produce at roadside giveaways, even certain flowers such as dandelions.
“I did a three-week sustainability project in the Canadian Arctic earlier this year with USC’s Dr Tristan Pearce. I lived in an Inuit community and saw their resourcefulness.
“I came back to the Coast and thought, ‘There is food everywhere and we’re letting it go to waste.’ People are afraid because it’s not in a store. We need to rediscover a sustainable way of foraging for food like our ancestors did.”
Rowan said he hoped the message would spread at World Environment Day to make sustainability an everyday issue.
Now in the last semester of his degree after leaving a city university several years ago, Rowan said he had thrived on the personal connections between staff and students at USC, as well as courses that “stepped outside the classroom”.
The World Environment Day Festival is organised by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council with support from USC, Sunshine Coast Council, Noosa Council and the Queensland Government.
The free family event has the theme “Have fun while you learn something useful” and is set to attract thousands of people. For details visit the festival website.
— Julie Schomberg