Video: FarmOS @ NOFA summer conference


farmOS is a web-based application for farm management, planning, and record keeping.

It is built on Drupal, which makes it modular, extensible, and secure.

Openlayers is used for mapping and geodata manipulation.

2016 NOFA Summer Conference

Michael Stenta presented a farmOS workshop at the 2016 NOFA Summer Conference. It covers the core features of farmOS, how to get started, where to find help, and how to contribute back to the project.

FarmOS: A Drupal-based farm management solution

This article was originally posted on

Posted 24 Nov 2015 by 

Image credits :

Mike Stenta. CC BY-SA 4.0.

FarmOS is a Drupal-based software project aimed at easing the day-to-day management of a farm. It allows different roles to be assigned to managers, workers, and viewers. Managers can monitor how things are going with access to the whole system, workers can use the record-keeping tools, and viewers have read-only access to, for example, certify the farm’s records.

I spoke with Mike Stenta, lead developer of farmOS and active developer since 2010, and he had a number of reasons for using Drupal and putting their files, code, and documentation on GitHub.

“I settled on Drupal for farmOS because I see it as a good intersection of flexibility, scalability, and community,” Stenta said. “It uses a modular architecture, so you can build applications in Drupal like building Legos. The community is huge, and the number of contributed modules and themes is mind-boggling. If you can think of it, you can probably build it in Drupal—and chances are someone already has.”

FarmOS's Mike Stenta

Fourteen modules are currently being developed, including Farm Access, Farm Admin, Farm Asset, Farm Crop, and more.

“The focus right now is laying a strong groundwork so that others can more easily join in and contribute,” Stenta said. “The world of agriculture wasn’t even on my radar until 2008. I started college in computer science, but switched to art and photography—partly because web development wasn’t in the curriculum. After college I found my way to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. There I worked as a farm apprentice. Then I came back to the east coast. In 2010, I helped my friend start a small CSA in Connecticut, and the philosophy of food and cultivation sank in deeply over those years. It shaped my direction profoundly.”

Then, he had the inspiration for farmOS. It came from some software he developed for the CSA. To take it to the next level he started generalizing his work, which led to the creation of the modules that are the core of farmOS today. Stenta is also working on a general ledger module for Drupal, which is a double-entry accounting system similar to popular proprietary products.

The community surrounding the project is important too, and farmOS is looking for beta testers and other contributors to the project.

“FarmOS is developed by a handful of contributors, and more are getting involved steadily,” Stenta said. “Community is everything, and it’s important to foster good communication and planning in any open source project. We publish monthly roadmaps and invite people to help. All the planning and task management is done in the Drupal issue queues and on GitHub, so it’s transparent and accessible. The monthly development meetings are a new experiment we’re trying to invite more people into the conversation. The project is still very young, but the interest has been huge and it’s starting to take on a life of its own.”

Farm Hack and UVM receive SARE grant to improve documentation platform

Farm Hack and Chris Callahan, Agricultural Engineer at University of Vermont, have partnered up for a SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) project that will leverage the Farm Hack documentation platform to better document and disseminate SARE-funded innovations, while concurrently improving the platform for all Farm Hack users.

No-weld root washer, designed and built by Grant Schultz with 2014 SARE grant

Hundreds of really interesting SARE tool innovation projects are funded each year and documented on the SARE website – for example, a no-weld root washermobile hops harvester or a waste vegetable oil powered flame weeder. However, the format of this documentation in a very lengthy pdf database does not facilitate  easy dissemination of these valuable ideas to other farmers.  The grant we have received will allow us to engage the SARE grantee community to discover how the Farm Hack platform can be improved to better fit their needs as a documentation platform, and fund development to make these changes.

With over 200,000 unique visitors since 2012, 2,000 registered contributors and 159 documented projects, Farm Hack already offers a visible documentation platform that additionally permits continued collaborative improvement of tools through open-source, wiki-style documentation and discussion forums. By adding improved functionality on such as metrics on tool views and downloads, discussion forums, and impact story capture, this project will provide a platform for enhanced SARE project distribution, collective innovation and iterative enhancement, and evaluation of impact over a longer period than the traditional project life. We hope to provide a perpetual home for SARE project outputs that will allow them to live, grow and improve in alignment with the open source philosophy shared by farmers, Farm Hack, SARE and other funding programs.

This will be a two-year project culminating in late 2016, and we are currently in the stakeholder engagement and needs assessment stage. Stay tuned for future updates on the project, and work being done to improve the platform.