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Latest from Young Farmers

Live Blogging Farm Hack @MIT

9:09 AM

Microsoft NERD Center is a beautiful venue, we’re looking over the river, eating bagels and coffee provided by the hosts. Back in a few…


Lars Hasselblad Torres is getting the pitches started, Farmers and Engineers will tell the group about the agricultural innovation they want to workshop today.


First, the farmers:

Krissie Nagy, Brooklyn Bumpkin, pitches smart switch for gravity fed water systems. Krissie is trying to create a gravity-fed rainwater catchment system and wants to integrate a solar-powered smart switch to control the water channels…maybe integrated with a rainfall sensor.


Erik Petterssen, Metro Pedal Power

Clayton from Groundworks Somerville came to Metro Pedal Power for help with building a bike-powered compost grinder. The idea’s a pedal powered generator that would be hooked into grinder. The idea is that high school students can collect food waste, bring it back, grind it with the shredder…and voila, compost!


Now the engineers:

Steve Shoap, Engineer pitched redesign of smart irrigation


John, from MIT…wants to make food safety easy for small scale farmers.


Terry, interested in new soil microscope…and has some jogging strollers for hacking.


Pitchers are now ‘setting up shop’! Non-pitchers are moving around, gravitating towards their interests, and forming groups.

Richard Robinson, Sherborn. Richard wants to make strawberry picking comfortable and posible to do over an acre. He wants to build this out of light weight, cheap materials. His second post is a compost dumping cart…he wants a cart to bring compost over a crop row.

And one more from Richard! A multi-bucket compost carrying system.


Jessie, Green City Growers. She wants help with site selection. She’s often working in small areas, trying to fit gardens in rooftops and tight urban spaces. She’s built a proto-prototype that tracks the sun across the sky.


Ben Shute, Hearty Roots Farm

Needs help developing a plug for the irrigation line that lets dirt wash out and power of water rushing through closes the valve off. Dirt gets clogged in pipes, which can ruin sprinkler nozzles.


Jeff, Tufts U.

He’s interested in developing a cultivating bike, a recumbent-style bike that cultivates and makes farm transport fast and green.


Halie Chen, channeling Sarah from Open Oaks farms…she’s looking for grain huller. Something scale appropriate that could do 100 lbs/hour.

Jen and Kim, Cranberry and veg growers. They want to help cranberry growers adapt for climate change.


Chris, runs veggie farm outside of Boston. He’s looking for tool that he can put on his tractor that can do one row at a time, a crop cart, and thinking through small-scale grain production.


Mat Kihm from RISD, interested in helping to farmers do season extension.


And to the presentations!



Team 1:

Farm Cart!

Battery powered farm cart. It’ll be a modular cart bed for compost, but also a cart that can move a person. This cart can utilize bike parts, metal tubing, plywood, friction drive…goal is to reduce strain on farmers. They’re going to try to fabricate and test a basic prototype in farms in MA and RI.

Team 2:

The problem: Energy usage for farm. Farmer has a cranberry farm, and needs to rebuild a cranberry farm. They need to rebuild farm that will enable it to last for another 100 years. How can these farmers use grant monies and farm systems to adapt for climate change?

High Tech 1

Windmill and solar panels.

Mannoet Point Farm, Cranberries and Veg

Low Tech:

Reconfigure piping.

Team 3:

Original idea was a 4 wheeled, recumbent style tractor…which became the TRIKE TOR!

2 wheels in front of one another and an outrigger.

It could work with a tine weeder, a basket weeder or a seeder.

This will help farmers use upper body and lower body, to balance the fatigue.

Minimal tooling, minimum investment and a broad market.


Team 4:

Woolverine Weedwacker!

Swing Tine Weeder. Lots of wires behind the tractor weeding the soil at an early point. The problem now is that they’re mounted with a 3 pt hitch and can be pretty expensive.


-Easy to mount and dismount

-Compatible with current tractor models

-Innovative manufacturing model, there’s need but not enough supply. D-lab students can make them in class!


-Will use a lot of recycled materials

Team 5:

Washtub 2.0

This team put together an affordable washtub system that will monitor temperature, ph, disinfectant and be easier to use than available options.

Team 6:

Issue: how to flush a irrigation pipe without someone at the pump and someone on the other end of the pipe (this can be a long distance).

Solution: Self-flushing valve

A “ball valve”… water spills through irrigation system, some will be diverted into side shoot where ball was resting…the ball floats up and blocks the end of the pipe.
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