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Tomatero - Learn How to Grow Your Own Edible Garden

Grow a tomato through engaging mini-games that educate and test your gardening skills.

Photo of Karen Lee
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Growing vegetables can be overwhelming, but the Tomatero application makes it simple and fun! All you need is a container or a small plot of land, a water source, and a little time. 

Tomatero guides you from seed to harvest every step of the way. You’ll learn how to grow a tomato through engaging mini-games that educate and test your gardening skills. You can challenge yourself to achieve new high scores or compete with friends and neighbors to earn badges that keep you motivated.  

This idea went through different iterations to be where it is now, thanks to the tremendous input from and collaboration with the OpenIDEO community. 

The idea started as a "technology toolkit" for community gardeners to record and upload gardening and cooking photos and videos, but it quickly evolved from talking to neighbors and friends, shooting a video at Common Ground Garden, conversing with my team and mentor, and showing people my prototype and observing what questions they asked or hearing what they liked or thought was cool. Feedback was truly a gift throughout this entire experience. Every time I asked a question, I received more than an answer. I received valuable insights that pushed my idea forward when I felt stuck. I learned about different people, companies, and organizations doing amazing things with community gardening and education in their local communities. 

In the next six months, my goal is to:

1. Identify the core audience - Who is this app for?

2. Get feedback and validate the idea - What are the mini-games? How does community fit in? What kind of content does the app use and where do I source it from (or do I need to create it)?

3. Develop a video explaining the app through a couple key screens.

4. Get the app development pre-funded by NBCUniversal, NBCUniverso, and Telemundo (or possibly a Kickstarter/Indiegogo)

I’m inviting the OpenIDEO community for your help and support! Specific areas/skills I’m looking for:

  • Software / Web Development - app mini-games, content, notifications, flow
  • Feedback / Evaluation - validation with core audience
  • Writing / Editing - app copy
  • Visual Storytelling -  video storyboard
  • Design Support - app design
  • Partnerships - content, schools, marketing partners 


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Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Karen.  How is the project developing?
I thought of you, and your project, as I have an Idea in the current End of Life Challenge that is about connecting through gardening.  I wonder if Tomatero might be a tool that can be applied, used by families, in my Idea?

Photo of Alia Munger


I really gravitate to your idea, and think it is great. I constantly am trying to find material to help me on my gardening journey. I am curious to know where you are in the process at the moment.  If you have decided on your user yet? I have been involved in a community garden program in my city that creates "learning gardens".  Many of them are for kids in grade school, where they learn the importance of growing their own food, being responsible for it, as well as the benefits to their life and the environment around them. 

If you are continuing with this project, I would love to talk more with you about the process and where you are at. 


Photo of Basel AlArkawi

Hello Karen,

I'm interested to know how has the OpenIDEO community helped you with your project?, would really appreciate your input.

Photo of Eunice Corbin

Hi Karen,

Like I said on Twitter, I think this is a great idea. I actually set a goal to start a small vegetable garden in my backyard after I finished a class in July and it still hasn't happened because I wonder where to start sometimes (I can probably only plant radishes at this point). I live within a tiny community of urban farmers (a few of my next door neighbors). I love the way it’s brought our little circle together. We stay outside and talk to each other more, just standing around chatting about food. My motivation for growing vegetables is not to keep up with them, but to add to my “real food” diet options. It took losing my health insurance for a small window of time, to realize I needed not only health care but more self-care. I started focusing on eating real food, reducing added and refined sugars, and trying to give my body the nutrition it needed. I started feeling amazing and was able to stop all my allergy medications. Now I’ve become that annoying person who reads every label and eats what my kids call gerbil and rabbit food.

I would love to help you on your journey with this idea—perhaps as a user for testing or maybe with prototyping. I like your little tomato graphic (smile). Reading about your app has been a great incentive for me to start planting. I can see my neighbors sharing pictures and ideas now with Tomatero. It’s exactly what we do on a pretty Saturday morning.

Please, let me know if I can be useful.


Photo of Karen Lee

Hi Eunice - I totally relate to your goal of wanting to start a vegetable garden, but I haven't gotten around to it because I feel overwhelmed on where to start. That's what motivated me about this idea of helping people step-by-step and making it fun. I'm also inspired by your own personal journey of eating real food and changing your diet! It's amazing to hear that you've stopped taking allergy medications as a result of nourishing your body. Eating real foods and talking about the impact it's made on your life is a fantastic way to feel empowered about your health.

I would love your help for testing and prototyping. I have a couple of next steps to pursue, so I'll keep you posted. Thanks again for your feedback, and look forward to collaborating together!