Take a virtual tour of new Farm Hack platform features, courtesy of our SARE grant

As you might remember, Farm Hack in partnership with Chris Callahan, Agricultural Engineer at University of Vermont, received a SARE grant in summer of 2015 to improve the Farm Hack platform for all users, and specifically for the documentation of SARE-funded tool ideas. Hundreds of really interesting design ideas are funded and documented on the SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) website each year, but the lengthy and somewhat hard to navigate pdf database does not facilitate sharing of designs very easily. That’s where the Farm Hack platform came in!

To upgrade the Farm Hack website, we surveyed SARE principal investigators as well as Farm Hack users to glean insight into what features we should improve to add on. In partnership with our software engineer partners we focused on making our growing tool database more easily searchable, and put a lot of work into the tool documentation page to make the process easier and more accessible, and make the resulting tool page more searchable and useful to community members. We also added an “ask an admin” pop up feature to encourage questions and feedback.

We are very excited about this next iteration of the Farm Hack platform, and hope it helps move our community towards further sharing and collaboration of useful, well-designed open source farm technology and tools.

We want your two cents on the site updates! Feel free to leave a comment on this blog post to start the conversation.

 

Support the Patriot Weeder Project: Designing a versatile, effective and affordable open-source cultivation system

Contribute funds to get this important, open-source design collaboration off the ground!

The Patriot Weeder Project aims to meet the demand from small organic farms for affordable, precise, and reliable weeding equipment. Funds from this campaign will be used to build and test prototypes, and produce open source plans for the Patriot Weeder:   An effective, versatile, and cheap weeding system adaptable to a wide range of farm sizes, soil types, and crops.  Most current farming technology is geared toward industrial scale production, leaving small-scale farms to equip their operations with a mix of obsolete, repurposed and invented tools. The ultimate goal is to make open source plans for the Patriot Weeder freely available for farmers and local fabricators on Farmhack.org, a hub for open source solutions to support small farmers and the local food movement.  At Farmhack.org you can already  find plans for our bicycle-powered thresher ,  fanning mill, and Dehuller/Flour Mill  (made possible by a SARE Grant) .
We embark on the Patriot Weeder Project in the spirit of Farmhack, namely in an attempt to simultaneously support both our emerging local farming sector and a revitalized local manufacturing movement. We can do this by getting the right tools into the hands of farmers at the right price, while at the same time developing a viable, decentralized, open-source, small scale model of local artisanship.

When my brother, an organic farmer, first asked me to build a weeding tool, I imagined he meant improving on the many available designs already in production.  I soon learned there are few to no available designs in the US.  There are old machines, like the Allis Chalmers G (ended in 1955) and the Farmall (built until 1980), but there are fewer of these antiques each year.  There are companies making either replica parts for the old machines or specialized weeding machines for certain applications (eg, tine weeders).  But it is nigh on impossible to find a US-made mechanical weeding system that is adaptable to many crops, farms of different sizes, and different soil conditions.  In Europe such systems exist.  However, they are expensive ($4K-50K) and they use proprietary shapes and sizes that make tool changing, universality, maintenance, and technical support a hassle.

Why was the mechanical weeder discontinued in the US?

Herbicides replaced machines for weeding.  Now public awareness of the problems with herbicides creates an opportunity for small farms to perfect mechanical cultivation (weeding) and lead the way back to a regional food system based on locally produced food and tools, and ecologically sound methods.

What features will a weeder for everyone have?

First, the design and plans will be open source so everyone can use and improve the plans.  Second, the design will be based on regular steel stock sizes, so any shop or farm can build the weeder with simple metal fabrication tools.  Third, the design will scale up for use with large tractors and scale down for use with small tractors, bike powered tractors, and pushed wheel hoes.  Additionally, the tool bar for the weeder will have an option for mounting on the three point hitch of a tractor and being pulled behind, allowing some farms to use one tractor for both plowing and cultivation.

The Patriot Weeder Project can do all this, but can’t do it unless you help.  If we nurture these seedlings of  sustainable agriculture, they will grow into a healthy network from which we’ll harvest the fruits of local food security, nutrition, and community empowerment. Please donate if you can, or share with your friends!

Support the Patriot Weeder Project on GoFundMe
Also seeking farmer input! Contact Lu through the GoFundMe page. 

Three Parts to the Project:

Part 1: A parallelogram row unit (pictured above) which clips on to a horizontal tool bar and carries a gauge wheel and a shank-mounted cultivating shoe or other type of weeder. The parallelogram row unit can be built light for use on a manually pushed cart or culticyle, or it can be built heavy for a large tractor. Many row units can ride on a single tool bar for cultivating more rows at once. Everything is adjustable with a single bolt sliding arrangement, so the row units can be tuned for crop height, cultivation depth, row spacing, etc.

Part 2: Homemade cultivating shoes and spring shanks. ​So that l​ocal shops can make cultivating tools to farmer’s specifications.

Part 3: The tool bar on to which the parallelogram row units mount can be belly mounted (such as a G, Cub, 140), but many farms do not have a tractor with a belly mounted tool bar. In order to make the parallel row units suitable for pulling behind a regular tractor, there needs to be a three point hitch tool bar that steers from behind the tractor. This requires a second person seated behind the cultivator in a “sulky” seat. For many small farms, the cost of a second person is worth it to save the hassle of owning a second tractor (especially an antique).

How will the money be spent?

For the first phase of this project, $1000 dollars will be devoted to materials: $300 for the parallelogram row units, $100 for the cultivating shoes and shanks, and $600 for the three point hitch steering tool bar.  Each of these three tasks will also get $1000 of labor (One week of shop time).   The goal of this half of the first phase is to get several prototypes in to the fields of two or three different farms by the start of the 2017 weed season.  The remaining funds will go toward field testing (with video camera) ($2000), repairs and changes ($1000 shop time), and materials for repairs and changes ($500)
In Fall of 2017 I plan to seek additional funding to complete the documentation of the project and produce open source plans and videos to upload to Farmhack.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this project!

Please help spread the word through friends and networks.

Accelerating Open Source and Positive Change

Source: Accelerating Open Source and Positive Change

OuiShare Fest Forward is an accelerator for open source projects with measurable positive impact on sustainability, social development or decentralized governance.

Each year, the OuiShare Fest gathers innovative leaders from all over the world to build a common vision of a collaborative society. In 2016, OuiShare will take a step forward.

Building on the experience of POC21 and the OuiShare Awards, we are launching a 3-day accelerator for collaborative, open source projects with high social impact. The goal is to overcome challenges in areas such as product design, business models or scalability.

Two initiatives will be selected directly by a jury of experts, the third nominee will be chosen through an online community vote. OuiShare Fest Forward is open for projects of various legal status and stages of development. The only two application requirements are that the project be Open Source and aims to create a Positive Impact.  The projects will be evaluated according to their potential social impact, their synergy with the OuiShare values and the key topics of the OuiShare Fest 2016.

The members of the selected projects have free access to the Fest. Online Applications are open until February 29th. If you have a great open source project and a challenge you want to solve, apply here!

The post Accelerating Open Source and Positive Change appeared first on P2P Foundation.


Apitronics Kickstarter is Live! Check it out.

Apitronics is an exciting start-up of Farm Hacker Louis Thiery, originally birthed from a Farm Hack NH greenhouse monitoring project. The Apitronics Kickstarter is live, and it’s great! You can pre-order Apitronics monitoring “bees” and help Louis get off the ground at the same time. He’s already a quarter of the way to his funding goal – help out a fellow Farm Hacker and get a useful new farm gadget!

from apitronics.com
from apitronics.com

About the Platform

Apitronics is a wireless platform designed for the outdoors. It includes a base station, or “Hive”, that coordinates a swarm of field-ready “Bees” which collect data and control switches.

What a Bee does depends on what sensors or switches you attach to its waterproof plug. Apitronics will be releasing more plugs as the platform matures. At one site, they are already doing some chicken coop monitoring, with a door sensor and a water level sensor. The system can send alerts if you forget to close the door or to bring water to the chickens!

Through the Kickstarter, Apitronics is offering user-ready systems with Bees connected to weather stations or soil humidity sensors. Louis also hopes that other developers will build off the platform and that a diverse ecology of products and other solutions will be built around the open architecture. By bringing open-source to farm electronics, Apitronics hopes to see more innovative solutions that are more farmer-driven.

More about the project at the Apitronics website

Visit the Kickstarter here

 

Kiva Zip: Crowd-fund your farm innovation

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You likely have heard of Kiva.org, a micro-lending site that lends to the entrepreneurial projects of individuals in developing countries through crowdsourced financing.

A year-old project of Kiva is Kiva Zip, which flips the tables.  Through Kiva Zip, individuals in the United States (and Kenya) can apply for an interest-free loan up to $5,000 for their project. This tool could be great for farmer-entrepreneurs with a well-developed innovation idea that want to market their innovation to others, and that need startup capital to bring this project online.

One Farm Hacker has already used Kiva Zip to do this – Louis Thiery, co-developer of the FIDO greenhouse monitor, applied for and received a $5000 loan through the service to produce 100 initial units of the Fido monitor.  This loan allowed him to build the original FIDO unit, and also develop a second improved iteration, now called the Sentinel Bee, through his new business Apitronics.

To receive a Kiva zip loan, you must apply through a Kiva Zip Trustee, whom you can locate on the site.  You also need to prove your business plan is viable, and be vouched for.

If you are applying for a loan, let us know at info [at] farm hack [dot] net, and we can vouch for your project!  Once you are approved, your project is then posted to the site, where users (hopefully) crowd fund your project.  The great thing about the Farm Hack community is that we can use our network to get out the word about projects, and ensure they get fully funded.  Use that farm hack community capital!

Find more info about Kiva Zip on their website.