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!
We broke into working groups to discuss four issues:
– Brainstorming how we can use Arduino (open source microprocessor) technology for farm purposes like monitoring greenhouses and produce storage facilities, sending alerts to farmers’ cell phones, protecting livestock, etc. A team is going to put together a SARE grant application to build a greenhouse monitor and alarm.
– Delving into the questions surrounding how engineers and other professionals can be appropriately compensated for working with farmers on FarmHack projects. There were some great examples of opportunities for inventors to still make a living off of their work on developing tools and technology, while still maintaining an open-source ethic.
– Exploring what collection of tools we would need in the northeast to be able to grow, harvest and process small grains efficiently and profitably.
– Beginning to develop the structure and standards for the FarmHack Wiki, the platform that we hope to use to profile tools and equipment that are developed through FarmHack events and on the forum.
We left inspired to continue collaborating and eager for the next FarmHack events. Rhode Island? Washington State? Stanford? These are all in development and we’re hoping to organize even more, so be in touch with your ideas for host locations.
Big thanks to everyone who showed up, to Severine, Christy, Dorn and Ben for organizing, and to GreenStart and Dorn for hosting!