Moore Man Turns Personal Challenges into Wildly Popular AppJan 16, 2019
Dale Spoonemore is open and frank about his lifelong struggle with depression, anxiety and the toll it has taken on his life.
“There were times when the anxiety would hit me and I would try and hide it from my mom by going and hiding in the closet,” said Dale. “I would just sit there in the dark, crying and paralyzed.”
Contributing to the burden of anxiety: Dale is autistic.
“For me autism is like an overload of input from the world around me,” said Dale. “If I’m not careful it overwhelms me, and I just shut down.”
But remarkably, with the help of his wife, Carrie, Dale was able to do more than just confront the emotional challenges in his life, he was able to channel them into something that has yielded a crop of opportunities for he and his family.
“Honestly, I consider autism my superpower,” said Dale. “When I’m able to shut out most of things that I feel pouring in on me and focus on just one thing I’ve been able to accomplish some really remarkable things.”
Carrie, who teaches nursing online and teaches clinicals at OU, forced Dale to confront his anxiety and depression, steering him toward health through the book “The Depression Cure” by Stephen Ilardi. The premise of the book is that anxiety and depression can be treated with simple things like getting more sunlight, drinking lots of water, eating the right foods, not dwelling on negative thoughts, getting enough social activity, and building consistent sleeping habits. As Dale embraced the simple concepts and started eating healthier foods, he and Carrie realized that buying fresh vegetables was going to become very expensive.
“We were spending like ten-dollars a week just on spinach,” said Dale. “I remember thinking that I heard you could just throw some seeds into the ground and they’ll grow so we decided to start a garden.”
It all began with two raised beds in their backyard in 2015. Dale used his “autism superpower” to focus on learning about gardening in a way that was almost superhuman.
“I went through like a hundred books on gardening,” said Dale. “I took a Master Gardener class at the Cleveland County Master Gardener Association and just became obsessed with learning everything I could about gardening.”
As Dale consumed gardening knowledge the couple’s garden grew from two raised beds to a full backyard garden complete with compost bins, rainwater collection and PVC irrigation system, and “hoop houses” so that the family can harvest in winter. It was only a matter of time before the family garden exploded into something much bigger.
Dale said it was actually the 2016 election that sparked the idea of sharing his accumulated gardening knowledge and experience through a website and a mobile app.
“It was Election Day and to be honest I wasn’t really happy about either presidential candidate,” said Dale. “I was waiting in line to vote with my daughter and she, being a lot more social than me, introduced me to a few new friends and we began to talk about gardening.”
Some of those new friends where needing some help with a community garden and Dale eagerly volunteered to help. That experience helped him stop worrying about the ugly politics of the election and focus on something positive that he could do to help make life better for others.
“I went from knowing nothing about gardening to being able to grow enough food to support my family,” said Dale. “I’d spent all of this time acquiring this knowledge and now it was time to share it with others.”
Dale and Carrie started the “Seed to Spoon” website and Dale started filling it with videos and blog posts on gardening. They also began a YouTube page and developed a following of about 3,000 people. As they were working on videos and the website in the summer of 2017 they realized that it would be much simpler if they just made an app that people could access on their smart phones and tablets.
“I started learning to code and Carrie started learning how to handle data management,” said Dale. “We started building the app in August and we released it in January.”
Almost overnight things took off. Dale found himself receiving invitations to come and speak at home and garden shows, including a full week at the Oklahoma City Home and Garden show. Dale says the app has become popular for a lot of reasons, including the helpful way the information is presented to users.
“When you open the app the first thing you see is 26 different health-related reasons for growing your own food,” said Dale, “It has categories like mental health, brain and memory, diabetes, heart health, and more.”
With around 80 plants (all plants that you can eat) listed in the app, Dale and Carrie believe that organizing them into categories of specific health-related interests enables users to quickly and easily find information that can benefit them directly.
“When you choose a category, it shows you the plants that help with that health condition,” said Dale. “Within the app you’ll find a calendar to find planting dates for a plant, a description of the plant, planting dates based on your nearest weather station with freeze date percentages that will tell you how risky it is to plant at certain times.”
The goal is to give anyone interested in gardening all the information they need to be successful with a home or community garden, including how to save seeds from the plants you grow. Dale and Carrie are particularly excited about their new partnership with Burpee’s Seeds, the largest seed company in the United States. By the end of December, the Seed to Spoon app will have direct integration with the Burpee’s website and their catalog of seeds and gardening supplies.
There’s so much more to share about the Seed to Spoon app and the great thing is that Moore Monthly readers will be able to follow Dale, Carrie, and the app’s development each month as Dale will be writing a new gardening column for the Moore Monthly starting in February. In the meantime, you can find out more about Seed to Spoon at:
Seed to Spoon Website
Seed to Spoon YouTube page
Follow Dale as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The mobile app is available for both Apple and Android phones.