OpenFarm - Learn to Grow Anything

I just launched a Kickstarter campaign for OpenFarm, a free an open database for farming and gardening knowledge! OpenFarm came out of the need for FarmBot to access structured, detailed data for how to grow a plant in a specific environment with specific growing practices.

We found that this data did not yet exist and figured the best way to obtain it was with a website where anyone could contribute the data, much like Wikipedia. We then figured that if we were to build such a database, it should not be exclusive for FarmBot users, but accessible by anyone. Thus, OpenFarm was spun off as an independent project.

Check out the campaign video below, and help fund this project!

Heading in the Right Direction

When I graduated 8 months ago, I had no idea what I was going to do for a job or what field of work I wanted to go into. But perhaps the one thing I was certain of, was that I wanted to pioneer my own path, that I would do things on my own accord, driven by my intrinsic desires, motivations, and values.

To ensure I embarked on my journey in the right direction, I opted to take my time in surveying both my own thoughts and the landscape of opportunities. I spent the first half of my Summer thinking and reading. Roommates may remember this period as a time that I didn't leave the couch, that I often passed up hanging out with friends in favor of reading Wikipedia and thinking, alone, for hours, sometimes through to the morning. I was gathering and formulating what makes me tick, what is meaningful in my life, the goals I have for myself, and the change that I want to make in the world.

I decided I fit the description of a social entrepreneur, and that I intend to use business, engineering, and design to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face today. With my newfound framework and topics as broad as agriculture, transportation, and governance piquing my interest, the time was right to move forward. I had a direction.

Already having had a loose idea to help fix agriculture, I made further developing that idea my primary focus. For the remainder of Summer, I formulated into a 50 page paper: FarmBot - Humanity's open-source automated precision farming machine. The paper details everything: from the initial idea, to the vision, to a prototype design, to the business plan and more. But most importantly, it calls for help. I recognize that nobody can solve these challenges alone, and that I want to collaborate, not compete. What's mine is yours, let's do this together.

I self-published the paper on September 20th and sent it out to strategic communities on the Internet. Before long, I had assembled an international and interdisciplinary team of people with a shared interest and motivation in the project. We began work. Now 5 months after publishing, the team is about 20 people strong and we're moving forward quickly on all fronts.

But what I'm most excited to say in this post, is that this Saturday marks the first day of FarmBot being my full-time job! I've been accepted into a Fellowship program by the Shuttleworth Foundation, providing me with $125,000 for project funds, my salary, and travel expenses. I will be working under this grant for a full year and I hope to bring FarmBot to market in that time. In May, I will be traveling to Budapest to meet the other fellows and the foundation staff for a week long conference. After, I plan to see more of Europe by bicycle, with a focus on meeting some of the other project contributors. While at home, I will be basing my operations out of SLO MakerSpace, and I'm incredibly stoked to transition my role there from manager to maker.

The times are exciting, the road is long, but I think I'm heading in the right direction!

Absolutely Fantastic Advertisements

It's a shame that great advertising is hard to come by these days. I've been appreciating some of Apple's more recent ads such as the iPad and iPhone TV spots below. But what really prompted this blog post is this perfect 1981 LEGO ad. This ad is not trying to be flashy or "appeal" to a certain demographic; rather, it is showing me something that really matters, something that everyone can relate to, something that is human. It feels incredibly genuine and conveys the ethos of why LEGOs were ever invented in the first place. Bravo!

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