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.
If you have never before visited Low-Tech Magazine, a blog about appropriate-scale technology design by Kris De Decker, you should change that now. The blog offers thoroughly researched and hyperlinked articles on various issues related to the role of low-tech, appropriate-tech, open source, etc. to address modern problems, and is both extremely useful and extremely interesting.
Kris’ most recent posting, “How to Make Everything Ourselves: Open Modular Hardware”, focuses on the importance of open modular design approaches for creating a more equitable, mutually beneficial and sustainable production system. Modular design refers to a design system in which components are constructed with universal features that allow them to be mixed-and-matched to construct a variety of things, and, equally important, can be deconstructed and easily reused in the future. The “open” part means that all users can create new components for this system, rather than production being controlled by one firm (think Legos – modular, but not open). This concept is universally relevant, but especially important for applications such as small-scale agriculture, where the technologies required are often pretty simple, and ideally able to be completed by farmers with tight budgets and sometimes low levels of fabrication expertise.
Many of De Decker’s articles are of extreme relevance to Farm Hack-y applications. These include pieces on stationary pedal power for farm and factory use, a history of pedal powered machines, and a traditional knowledge database. And there are many more! Peruse through them at the Low-Tech Magazine site, right here.
The Open Modular Hardware article points you towards many interesting projects already happening based on the open modular concept, one of the most advanced being Open Structures. This project takes modularity to a new level, allowing users to produce parts, structures and components all based on a shared geometric grid. All these are documented on the project website. The grid system allows a wider variety of objects to be designed, not just those with square or rectangular frames. So far, Open Structures community members have posted designs for furniture, biogas digesters, cargo bikes, and much in between.
Taking it beyond the virtual world, Open Structures has set up a physical workshop with the goal of providing a design space with their OS components, plus infrastructure and assistance to facilitate design of new structures and components. Unfortunately, this workshop is located in Brussels, Belgium – but here’s to hoping this project moves stateside soon! In the meantime, definitely check out their website.
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.
Get on it farmer inventors, farmer researchers, farmer questioning everythingers..
Organic Farming Research Foundation Is Accepting Grant Proposals Through November 19, 2012
Since 1990, Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has awarded hundreds of grants supporting exceptional research and education in organic farming. Organic farmers are some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in America who work tirelessly to meet a growing consumer demand.
The OFRF grant proposal deadline of November 19, 2012 is quickly approaching.
Thanks to our partnership with Seed Matters, proposals are being accepted for:
• Research in categories of organic seed quality or crop breeding.
• Education/outreach projects in categories of organic seed quality or crop breeding.
OFRF will make selections in March. Applicants will be notified by March 30, 2013. Submit a proposal if you wish to receive funding to improve organic research.
For more information, please contact the OFRF Grants Program.
Let’s cultivate BIG ORGANIC IDEAS,
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.
Here’s another resource for sustainable ag and appropriate technology learning, in handy dandy podcast format. Frank Aragona, also the Director of Research and Development at Holistic Management International, interviews people throughout the movement, focusing on permaculture and other strategies for community relocalization and ecosystem regeneration. There’s a blog too!
Collectors and preservationists in organizations such as the International Harvester Collector Club acquire old tractors, keeping the machines in working order and preserving the knowledge of how to do so. What if farmers actually started using these tractors? In her blog History at the Table , Cathy Stanton points out the untapped potential of these skilled mechanics. Instead of looking at old tractors as only a demonstration of past technologies and ways of living, we could be using the valuable tools and knowledge demonstrated at these shows for practical use.
Lots of other great posts in Cathy’s blog of relevance to Farm Hackers!
This tool is used to roll standing annual cover crops and crimp the stem to prevent regrowth and create a heavy mulch in place that can be planted through using no-till drills, planters and transplanters. This tool entry is based on the Rodale Institute’s open source design and is currently being manufactured by I&J equipment in Gap, PA.
Farmer and Farm Hack Intervale host Rob Rock is featured in an article in the independent publication Seven Days about the newly formed Vermont Makers community, a diverse group of farmers, programmers, educators, artists and others that are working to create organized meet-ups and work spaces for collaborative innovation.
Vermont hackers, artists and inventors are sharing ideas — and solving problems
Remember when geeks were uncool? John Cohn does. The 52-year-old IBM fellow recalls the disapproving look people shot him when, growing up, he told them he wanted to be an engineer. “I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to get other people interested in geekiness,” he says.
Looks like it worked — the Age of the Geek has arrived.
With the advent of the internet, open-source software, and increasingly affordable and accessible high-tech tools, making stuff isn’t just possible; it’s hip. Evidence of both qualities is in the pages of Make magazine, where readers find slouch-detecting belts and Star Wars deck chairs. You’ll even find instructions for do-it-yourself space exploration using homemade satellites. Yes, really.
Vermont’s “makers” — a term that originated in the early 2000s, meaning any amateur or professional inventor of physical objects — are farmers, programmers, artists, educators and kids. Whether they’re dreaming up Roomba-style contraptions to scare the deer from their fields or creating sound installations for a gallery, makers have a few things in common: curiosity; a renegade, DIY spirit; and a willingness — even eagerness — to share.
Read the whole article HERE