Open Source Agriculture

Open Source, normally referred to within the domain of computer software, also pertains to the availability of the inner workings of physical operations and technology in the modes of hardware and sociological being with my focus here in view of agricultural life and design. There is a wide variety of literature available online providing information on agricultural methods, but where food production is concerned, the most informative pathways towards gaining an understanding of farming is to see, firsthand, how farmers and ranchers operate in their seasonal tasks. I have visited several farms in the past couple of years that have operated in such a way that have allowed for guest study of their daily procedures and thus exist as open source sites of agriculture, with one in particular ringing out as the most appropriate to mention as an open source agricultural operation I have had personal experience with.

I first learned of Polyface Farms through the Omnivore's Dilemma by Micheal Pollan in relation to how sustainable animal raising can thrive in opposition to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFO's, for short. Upon receiving a chance to visit the farm through the Sustainable Agriculture Club of Penn State University, I couldn't refuse a trip to Swoope, Virgina to join a tour hosted by Daniel Salatin. Daniel's father, Joel Salatin's mission, as the chief owner and architect of the farm's operation, strives to provide high quality livestock in a sustainable fashion by limiting consumers to the bio-regional areas surrounding the farm in Northern Virginia; Joel Salatin refuses to ship any product off-site and allows the animals to fully live out their domestic instincts.

The Salatin family and farmhands strive to provide answers to all questions posed by those who visit the farm. Any party is welcome to view the farm's operations given that prior notification is exercised. Seasonal tours are also provided to those that seek to become educated attendees and consumers of the overall farming methods.

Though, there exists a farm that I've been interested in visiting for years and have yet to reach upon the life path set before me, The Factor e Farm, part of Marcin Jakubowski's brain child, Open Source Ecology, has alluded me.

Open Source Ecology (OSE) exists as an organization seeking to create what Marcin refers to as the "Open Source Economy." Essentially, the idea is to design, build, and use machines deemed necessary for a community to sustain itself indefinitely using local resources. The project intends to meet and even exceed first world standards of living. Fifty industrial machines have been selected by the organization; the design process and practical building is being documented and presented to the public in an open source format via the internet. Collaboration with other groups and individuals seeking the development of sustainable communities are paramount to the stated mission of Open Source Ecology.

See Open Source Ecology Paradigm for the stated mission as written by Marcin and collaborators.

OSE intends not to only create individual machines, but instead a network of affordable technology that are both capable of producing each other and the products that each machine is capable of building. For example, the proposed power cube will enable the use of virtually all objects built by OSE and others due to the need for electricity to operate machinery. With the creation of the machines and systems that OSE has in mind, the institution of a truly sustainable local economy driven by human innovation and openness is being made possible through interpersonal dialogue in the physical world and realms of networked thought via the internet. I hope that Marcin and those directly involved with the project come to a place of a foreseeable sustainable outcome so that operations like Polyface Farms may remix their farm's design and yield higher profits through lowered costs in the doing of such an important sector of labor, Sustainable Agriculture.