Farmer-Scientist Group Wants to ‘Hack Society’ through Open-Source Technology
By Bonnie Azab Powell / grist.org
Feb 2, 2011

One of the most frequent criticisms leveled against the sustainable agriculture movement is that its proponents want to send farmers back to 19th-century hard labor, with hand weeding and harvesting. Here's an incredibly cool group of eco-minded "farmer-scientists" who aren't in the least afraid of technology -- and in fact believe in "creating industrial processes that are fully in harmony with ecologically responsible living."

The Open Source Ecology team's first, ambitious project is the Global Village Construction Set -- a sort of life-size Erector set of the most essential machines for building a "small civilization with modern-day comforts," including housing and the means for food, energy, and technology production.

Parts like engines and chassis can be swapped amongst the eight prototypes built so far, which include the Compressed Earth Brick Press and LifeTrack Multipurpose Tractor. The group claims that their DIY machines are on average eight times cheaper than buying them from the manufacturer.

The Global Village Construction Set is currently the leading contender in Make magazine's Green Project contest: voting closes Dec 31 at midnight. It's just ahead of two other interesting but far less radical projects, the Upcycle Exchange and FabMo, both of which seek to divert materials from the waste stream and into the craft communities.

Open Source Ecology, by contrast, is about "hacking society" via permaculture principles. "We are proposing high-tech neosubsistence -- or the capacity to live from local resources by use of advanced, appropriate technology, without requiring any compromise on quality of life," writes Marcin Jakubowski, the project leader and "sparkplug," on the group's blog. "It is difficult to get people to think out of the box -- that totally sustainable, regenerative, resilient economies are a choice -- and that we are proposing a solution to implement these technologies."

Jakubowski is a Princeton graduate who got a PhD in fusion physics from the University of Wisconsin then started a hydroponic vegetable farm in Madison, Wisc., before founding Open Source Ecology to work on closed-loop manufacturing. He and the dozen other Open Source Ecology members live most of the year on Factory e Farm, a 30-acre former soybean farm in Missouri, "where we put the theory of Open Source Ecology into practice ... We paid our last electricity bill three years ago. We are getting our power from waste vegetable oil and the sun. We drink pure free rain water. We grow most of our food. We are free. Welcome to our life. We want to help others do the same. Decentralization. Regain control of your life."

Sound good? Check out Open Source Ecology's two-minute explainer video below, get lost in their wiki(like I just did for two hours) and consider voting for them in the Make contest or becoming a True Fan and financially supporting their work:

 

Global Village Construction Set in 2 Minutes from Open Source Ecology on Vimeo.

4.3 ·
2

Support Films For Action

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information they need to help create a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

We receive no government or corporate funding and rely on our supporters to keep us going. Donate today.

Trending Today
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga60,532 views today ·
10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn't Learn About In History class
Kathleen Harris7,588 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min5,790 views today ·
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine2,769 views today ·
Thich Nhat Hanh - Being Love: Teachings to Cultivate Awareness and Intimacy
73 min1,824 views today ·
I Promise, It's Not Lame to Ask a Woman for Permission
Dave Booda1,087 views today ·
This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral
Chris Renwick776 views today ·
How American Oligarchs Created the Concept of Race to Divide and Conquer the Poor
Courtland Milloy714 views today ·
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley544 views today ·
Load More
Join us on Facebook
Farmer-Scientist Group Wants to ‘Hack Society’ through Open-Source Technology