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Rhubarb Insights

Unearthing Rhubarb: How a Running Passion and a Gardening Dilemma Fueled Its Creation.

By: Whitney from Rhubarb
January 29, 2024

Rhubarb emerged from the desire for a simple, engaging gardening app. Inspired by the community aspect of fitness apps like Strava, it aims to provide a platform for gardeners to track progress, share experiences, and receive support. It's more than a tool; it's a community to celebrate gardening milestones.

What compelled us to create Rhubarb? 

As a periodic food gardener, I struggled to stick to a routine. When I have had a garden, I’ve had mixed success, often due to the unexpected turns that are life. This struggle ultimately has disrupted my gardening consistency year after year. It can feel easier not to plant the garden, thus avoiding the frustration and the feeling of failure from my inability to have a harvest that met my expectations.

From journals to apps. 

I have tried various strategies to stay on track. I have started many journals (which inevitably get lost or left on the garden bench only to end up covered in dirt). I have set many reminders on my calendar (helpful but not inspiring) and experimented with many gardening apps over the years. However, most gardening apps feel more like a chore than a help. They are cluttered, overwhelming, and not tailored to my specific growing conditions. They feel like a glorified, unengaging notebook. 

A dream of simplicity + engagement

I dreamed of a gardening app that was different. I imagined a clean, simple interface - information overload and excessive use of icons not allowed! I wanted an app that was functional and enjoyable with engaging features like growth progress rings and CO2 impact estimates. It should offer a way to engage, ask questions, and share experiences with other gardeners and local gardening experts. Most of all, I craved a community where I could celebrate my gardening victories and get that motivational boost from the positive responses of others like me.  

A running community inspires the vision.

As a runner, I have always loved analysing my runs once completed. My experience with Strava as a runner significantly influenced my vision for Rhubarb. The data I get that allows me to understand my runs and see my progress over time has always been fulfilling. The data is still not always enough to get me out the door on a day when I don’t feel like running. But the game-changer is the community aspect of  Strava - following other runners, sharing my training ups and downs, and celebrating achieving my goals with other runners. It’s the sense of community and accountability that often pushes me to lace up my shoes and run even when I’m not in the mood.

If only I had something like Strava to help me grow food at home. I longed for a “Strava for gardening” - a tool to help me stay committed when work weeks get busy or when the weather changes unexpectedly and overcome the frustration of neglected plants and unmet harvest expectations. A tool that not only tracks and assists with planning but also connects and celebrates each small success with a community of fellow gardeners.


The seed that was planted grows into Rhubarb

Rhubarb was born from a vision of combining the utility of a gardening tool with the motivational power of a connected community. Similar to how fitness watches have been combined with a community of athletes. Rhubarb is not only about growing food at home; it’s about growing connections and celebrating each step of your food gardening journey.

We have created the beginning of a garden journal to track your plants, get watering reminders, and celebrate your harvests while getting support from other gardeners along the way. We have even devised a way to share a garden with other Rhubarb users, such as your partner, a friend caring for it while you’re on holiday, or a garden professional who has helped you set up and plan the food you’re growing. 

We are planting the seeds for a community to share and celebrate your “wins” with a place to connect with gardeners nearby and willing to share their local knowledge, as well as garden experts who can provide trusted advice and services and inspire you to keep growing food at home. And for those times when everyone you know is busy (or sleeping when you’re awake and worrying about the leafhoppers in your garden having a feast), you can Ask Ruby - our resident AI expert who lives in Rhubarb. Ruby’s knowledge and data to draw from will grow over time as our gardeners update their information about ideal planting dates, when and what time of day they are watering, fertilizing and harvesting. This will create an incredibly hyper-local awareness that has never been available, and we are really excited about this!

Join us at Rhubarb, let’s navigate this journey together.

As we have built our first iteration of Rhubarb over the past year, we have tried to keep all our hopes for what it can be in line with what we can achieve for this first season. Like a garden, there is a need to start small. This has been a challenge when there is so much we want to provide! It has also been essential to us to provide something that works well and is pleasing to work with, and I think we will accomplish this goal.

We look forward to growing our food with all of you, our fellow gardeners, dreamers and hopefully a few runners, too.