Excerpted from the Two Spruce Farm blog, written by Northland apprentices Daniel Grover and Scott Hoffman. Read the whole post here.
Ben Flanner, president and farmer at the NYC rooftop farm Brooklyn Grange (and co-host of Farm Hack NYC last fall), talks on this week’s Farm Report episode about different organizations and projects that are helping farmers create and innovate on their farms and share these designs and tools, and strategies the Grange has adopted to grow productively in a limited rooftop space. And read up on the Farm Hack NYC meetup and build project he mentions in the forum!
“Farmers are super collaborative…we are all about that. In terms of specific farming type things, thats all completely shared, open source, you put as much time as you possibly can to people, especially farmers and aspiring farmers.”
NOFA-NY is one of the biggest and best winter farming conferences out there, and Farm Hack will be participating! We will have a Farm Hack Innovation Exhibition, put on by Farm Hackers from around the Northeast on Saturday and Sunday (January 26 + 27) of the conference. It will be a great opportunity to informally meet other hackers and swap ideas.
More info in the conference brochure, page 8.
And we want you to join us!
If you are planning to attend the NOFA-NY conference already, bring along a hack you have built (or photos, video or other documentation of it), and share it at our booth. The exhibition will be happening Saturday and Sunday, so you can come to share your ideas and talk to other farm hackers any time that fits into your conference schedule.
If you are interested in participating, please email Kristen at email@example.com.
Last weekend, Brooklyn and Queens played host to New York City’s first Farm Hack. The event brought together many young urban farmers, designers, architects, and community-makers.
The gathering took on a distinct complexion in the context of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. The damage left in the storm’s wake lent a powerful focus on the challenges unique to metropolitan infrastructures, and their capacity to overcome difficulties such as extreme weather. More than anything, the event highlighted the urgency for urban populations to generate positive change through engaging in a real relationship with innovation.
The Hack kicked off in Williamsburg at DB Co-op, a design guild whose projects focus on creating human-powered technology. Their current includes a series of composting machines, including a dry shredder and barrel sifter.
From there, our caravan moved onward via subway and bicycle to a composting and nursery site used by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy. Though the site had suffered flood damage, the discussion continued to be very lively, and stressed the recurring topic of bioremediaton, a crucial process in dealing with depleted and contaminated urban soils.
At the nearby Gowanus Studio Space, the group heard from Build It Green NYC on their scaffolding material reclamation project for raised bed construction in the city, and learned about the preservation of the city’s waterways from NYC Water.
Jae Lee of Project EATS also spoke on the inventiveness needed to address rodent problems at one of the organization’s newest community garden sites in Harlem, and Lenny Librizzi of GrowNYC demoed a bicycle-powered rooftop rainwater harvesting system.
The first evening concluded with a tour and serious feast at Brooklyn Grange’s impressive rooftop farm in Long Island City, the largest of its kind in the world.
The second day of the event took place at 3rd Ward’s education and coworking space. Presentations included a discussion on hyper-mobile milk-crate farming from Zach Pickens of Riverpark Farm, a talk from Our Goods, a web-based barter system that seeks to redefine how we value one another’s time and work, and from 596 Acres, a NYC vacant land mapping project. Feedback Farms also spoke about their continued research efforts in exploring various urban farm technologies, such as sub-irrigated planter design and automated watering systems.
Speakers Leonora Zoinsein and Liam Turkle continued the ongoing thematic dialogue of reinterpreting the parameters of “value” in our culture, leading into the highly spirited Design Charrette, which rounded out the weekend.
By the end of the day on Sunday, the NYC group was already discussing future collaborations and a possible regular meet-up in the city. We will keep you posted!
Thank you to all of our hosts, farms upstate and downstate for the fall bounty, and of course our head event chef Hannah Black.
For notes, news, and continued discussion, head to the Farm Hack NYC Forum.
Event photos viewable on the Greenhorns Flickr.
This past weekend, Farm Hackers gathered at beautiful Ecovillage in Ithaca, New York for the biggest (and possibly baddest) Farm Hack yet.
Saturday featured live demos of various farm innovations operated, and in some cases developed by, local farmers, including a custom-built electric tractor, Japanese paper pot transplanter, and Cool Bot cooling system. The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming’s brand new Incubator Farm served as a perfect demo space.
The first of Sunday’s workshops focused on grain and bean production and processing, hosted by Cayuga Pure Organics. Anne Riordan, farm and milling operations manager at CPO, gave a tour of the production and processing equipment that allows CPO to grow a variety of heirloom grain and beans, and clean and sort them on site. Robert Perry of NOFA-NY also gave a demonstration of his mobile grain processing unit.
The second Sunday workshop focused on farm shop basics, led by veteran farm hackers and fabricators Rob Rock of Pitchfork Farm and Ben Shute of Hearty Roots Community Farm. Ben and Rob introduced the group to the basic tools most useful to in a farm shop, and the techniques with which these tools could be put to use for farm hack projects.
And of course, a Farm Hack is never complete without the Design Charrette. The crowd broke out into six small groups, working on topics from automated control irrigation system for greenhouses to production of larvae for fish food. Notes and continuing conversation can be found in the Ithaca event forum. Several of the designs have already been posted to the Tools wiki page.
More event photos on the Greenhorns Flickr page!
The Farm Hack crew headed to NYC last weekend to participate in Maker Faire NYC, a gathering of inventors of all kinds, from 3d printers (there were a lot of those) to a bike-powered transplanter/weeder from Andy and Steve from Pedal Power, based out of Essex, NY. The Pedal Power group also brought their pedal-powered sewing machine and generator, which were very popular with young faire-goers. They were also popular with the media – Andy was featured in NPR’s coverage of Maker Faire on Morning Edition!
In addition to the pedal power crew, Rob Rock of Pitchfork Farms brought his greens washer and frame-mounted flame weeder from Vermont, and Audrey and Daniel of DB CO-OP, a new bike-powered design collective out of Brooklyn, brought their leaf shredder.
The first Farm Hack event to hit the Midwest was a great success last week, spanning two days at University of Iowa in Iowa City and Echollective CSA in Mechanicsville.
Farmer Grant Schultz demo’d his electric tractor at Echollective, and Francis Thicke of Radiance Dairy presented on his use of various on-farm energy sources for decreasing energy use on his grass-fed dairy operation. Steve Fugate of I-Renew and the Yoderville Biodiesel Collective also presented on production and use of biodiesel from waste vegetable oil.
Several ideas came out of the design charrette, and the notes for the brainstorming have been posted to the Farm Hack Iowa forum thread. At least one group made plans to put their design into action following the hack.
We had a great two-day Farm Hack event at Intervale (VT) and Essex Farm (NY), with tours of Rob Rock’s vegetable operation and farm-built tools, and a visit to Essex Farm’s year-round, full-diet, horse-powered CSA.
Several new tool ideas emerged during our Design Charrette on Saturday afternoon. The results have been posted on the forum and several of them are in active development.
Credit to Dan Paluska for the video.
We had an amazing weekend in southern New Hampshire- touring an inspiring farm that’s a hotbed of innovation; making headway on new project ideas; and doing some serious strategizing about the development of the FarmHack project.
The weekend began with a tour of Tuckaway Farm, focusing on the innovative tools and techniques that Dorn Cox has been integrating as part of his work with the host organization GreenStart. We saw self-contained biodiesel processing rigs, one-pass no-till planting set-ups, farm-fabricated fence stretchers, and we worked on reverse-engineering an old oat dehuller.
The next day we reconvened at the Lee Grange Hall to roll up our sleeves and strategize about the future of FarmHack and to make some headway on designing new tools.
There was much talk about FarmHack’s imminent launch of a new Web Forum to use as a space for discussion of new farm tool projects, knowledge exchange about existing technologies, and communication about standards for collaborative tool development (for example let’s all be on the same page regarding quick connects, power transfer, etc. so we can interchange our inventions.) Some participants were even able to register early for the Forum and begin populating it with threads.
Those oats that were de-hulled the night before? We took a break from discussing new media tools in order to use an old-technology hand-crank fan mill to separate the hulls out. Still works! (more…)
FarmHack New Hampshire will be the next in our series of all-day events bringing farmers together with inventors, engineers, designers and other specialists, to brainstorm + build together. This event will focus in on harvesting, handling, processing, and adding value to farm products.
On Saturday, November 19th and Sunday, November 20th we will converge in Lee, NH. First we will see some new tools in action at Tuckaway Farm, and deconstruct some older technologies to get at the heart of engineering ag tools. Then we will work in teams to develop new project and tool ideas, with the goal of getting some working prototypes on our farms next season.