Built on the WordPress platform, and using a version of the theme ‘Swatch’ from WOOThemes that I modified I was able to get this website up and running in a couple of weeks worth of spare time.

Hatch Homepage, by Strategic Digital Storyteller Dean Hewson
The homepage of Hatch

One of the guys I used to bartend with is a pretty clever dude, and after a stint with the UN in Paris, he presented me with an idea.

He’d seen how food aid was being delivered to refugee camps in Africa, and thought we could do better. Rather than shipping the food in, it makes more sense to try and grow it there.

Hydroponics in a shipping container fit that bill perfectly. We formed a team of 6, split between the EU and Australia and got cracking. My first task was to build us a website, and write the content to fill it.

Design

Hatch Solutions, by Strategic Digital Storyteller Dean Hewson
Our solutions page, annotated.

Our logo was put together by Harvard Wang at the Cargo Collective. Taking the palette he set, I built a quick and dirty site to get us moving and provide further information for our IndieGoGo campaign.

The three feelings/thoughts I decided I needed to get across through the site’s design were; Trust, Optimism and Reliability.

The Swatch theme had a number of design features that I felt didn’t meet our needs. It had a dark palette – to build trust I wanted a more Utilitarian feel, so switched it up to be mostly white and minimal. This also meant getting rid of the zig-zag png that sits under the top navigation. The header tags also needed a bit of work; there was not nearly enough white space between paragraphs and headers to be read clearly.

Google Web Fonts were used; a thick slab for the headers – Arvo – and a clear but slightly ‘edgy’ (oh how I dislike that word) sans-serif font for the copy – ‘PT Sans’.

For the links, I chose an out of palette colour that was vibrant, strong and optimistic – #FF4946 (feel free to use it elsewhere, it’s an amazing colour).

This project was also the first time I had to source all create all the internal imagery myself. Compfight was my weapon of choice, as it made it easy to get appropriately licensed photographs that fit our budget ($0).

Words

This was a difficult copywriting task. I had to write in such a way to convey a sense of optimisim, of possibility; which when writing about malnutrition, refugees and our inefficient international aid system was a big challenge.

What’s needed is a farming solution that’s robust, reliable, cheap, consistently produces high yields and is secure against theft and weather; and we think we’ve designed the system to do it.

We are tackling micronutrient deficiency by developing a hydroponic farming system that works inside a standard shipping container that we think will be able to meet the micronutrient needs of 1000′s through farming micro-greens that grow quickly, with little water, and that have to be transported no further than the length of a shipping container to be available for the people who desperately need it.

We’re at the start of the journey, having just secured most the funding we need to to build our first test unit and turn the Hatch concept into a reality. A big thanks to the Awesome Food Foundation, who gave us their$1,000 microgrant for March, to OOCL for gifting us the 20 foot container for our test unit, and to the amazing people that funded our first indiegogo campaign.


This was one of my first production sites, and looking back on it now, there is a lot I would change (shorter sentences!).

The project itself petered out, but we had a good run. There are many others who go into the space with better funding and time, and all of us involved hope to see that work continue and this problem finally be solved.