FarmHack is a network for sharing open source know-how amongst the distributed fringe of DIY agricultural tech aficionados and innovators. In the same vein as Appropedia or Open Source Ecology, a collaborative digital knowledge-base facilitates the harvest of crowd wisdom to address challenges and inefficiencies in modern ecological (and economical) farm operation. It is a project of Young Farmers Coalition and somewhat angled to the exuberant and tech-savvy eco-preneurial demographic, but inclusive and supportive of all open earthy inhabitants.
A primary focus of the organization is toward intensive development meet-ups, teach-ins, and hackathons, in person, on the farm. Just after landing at my new rural summer farm home and hack-factory in Vermont, I learned of one such get-together nearby on Lake Champlain. It appealed as a chance to meet peers, learn about the local Intervale organic agricultural enterprise collective, and practice some "agile" collaborative protocols in fresh context.
According to the digital brochure, the focus for the Champlain weekend is appropriate tillage, CAD design, workshop configuration and use, and working with FarmHack’s new community website. Special bonus features included a converted silo home tour, grange hall hay-bed slumber party, several farm excursions, and, tacked on ahead of things the night before, a talk and book signing with The Greenhorns founder, author, and film-maker Severine Fleming, with whom I shared my own "startup" farm experience a dozen years back on campus at Pomona College in California.
Rural areas--so many in stark economic decline today--are in fact a wealth of raw materials, practical skill, and entrained devotion towards creative repurposing and sustainable initiative. Some of the best comfort and satisfaction about life on and with a piece of land, is that there is always plenty to “do;” to explore, to evaluate and improve upon, to hack away at in a mechanical or strategic manner--with room for creativity and eclectic flair--leading directly to concrete (frequently delicious and/or nutritious) result.
Interoperable semantic metadata of the “next-gen” Web promise unprecedented access to the backstory on your breakfast, options for investment in a craft producer, or the schematics for a solar chicken tractor. Consider, on a neighborhood level, the rise of tool libraries or coworking, and then continue extrapolating towards shared production commons of renewable power and water systems, urban food forests, processing facilities, marketing associations and...well, share the dream-- #inhabit; wherever your roots stake hold!
Commercial crop production and domestic animal management is intensely context-sensitive and dynamic vocation. It’s frequently demeaning and discouraging. It’s relatively crap pay. And, it is occasionally a paramount satisfaction returned for gritty labors in the public interest that are literally life-giving. Sustainable food systems are the long-range engine and “money supply” of our civil society. Open sourcing the know-how and effective story lines of successful ventures within this realm will invite citizens back into the processes and rewards of collaborative solving for abundance, ecology, community, and culture.