Open Technology for Farmers at Eco-Farm

Hi Colleagues,

As a former farmer, I was a huge fan of the Eco-Farm conference every January. I have taken a few runs at session proposals that connect the dots between ethical relationship with the land and human communities and Open Source tools for farmers. I haven’t hit the sweet spot yet in terms of describing why open-pollinated software makes as much sense to a farm’s resilience as open pollinated seeds (for basically the same reasons). I would really love to try again to get this onto farmers’ radar, and I am looking for co-conspirators to help. Would you like to team up on a presentation proposal (and presentation)? The form we would fill out is here (it’s not onerous) and the deadline is June 10. Please grab me or just reply to this post if this idea excites you too!


I’m totally game! I think lots of people could here could back you up there also, but I’m definitely game.

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Yassss @laurieWayne, I love this! Eco farm is fantastic and I’d love to help put something together. When I was a student I had tried to propose a session on participatory design of farmer tech so have at least filled out the form once a while back (though unsuccessfully :joy:).

Let me know if you’re planning a meet or how to contribute!

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Count me in!

Fantastic @jgaehring @sudokita and @gbathree! A meeting seems like a logical next step, and anyone who reads this thread is warmly invited! I wish I had some more magical way to propose a time than a LettuceMeet, but I don’t. Sigh. Is it cutting things too close to propose some times in the first week of June/short week after Memorial Day? Let me know if you think so, or else please do your thing here: I’ll post a proposal like Friday unless you di it first! :slight_smile:

I’ll just include last year’s swing-and-a-miss FYI (I always fill these things out at the last minute -I think I turned this one in after doing it on my phone while pulled over in a rest area when I remembered it was due in an hour or something ha ha, thank god for low character limits!):

Open-pollinated, Free-range Software for Your Farm and Community (and why you should care)

What if there were a global community of tech-savvy farmers, software developers, and activists all conspiring to create tools that support your operation and your local food system, from crop planning to sales, while sharing your values and practices and protecting your data? What if you already owned those tools, and you had a say in how they were improved? Welcome to the world of Open Source. We’ll look at case studies of Open Source software tools for farmers and others that work, and learn why some absolutely don’t. You’ll leave this session knowing what open source is, what tried-and-true solutions are available to you now, and how to pick the right open source solution for crop planning, online shops, and more.

Additional Description Details
In the Open Source community, we are really used to working virtually. We are a platform cooperative and would be prepared to talk about that too. If this topic is chosen, we would have 3 speakers from different Open Source communities or organizations. We would love to show people how the Open Source ethos can prepare farmers to be resilient, responsive, and globally engaged while being firmly rooted in their communities.


This is excellent! So are we going the workshop approach you think? I think the general idea of just digging into what open source is and why farmers and eaters should care is a great approach, sure to yield plenty of good discussion.

Can’t wait to talk more about this!

Yay! June 3, 9:30 EST is the ticket! Let’s meet online at !

All interested peeps are very welcome!


This is great!! Wanted to chime in here, a little over a year ago I presented a session “Adding Open Source Tools to Your Farming Tool Belt” at the WA Tilth Conference. More details and link to slides are in this farmOS forum post…

To give a bit of context, this was right after OpenTEAM had kicked off. My plan was to give a quick who/what/why/where/how on open source, do an overview + demo on farmOS, and highlight OFN + OpenTEAM partners with quick descriptions of each. Overall it went quite well but I ran out of time! And my laptop couldn’t connect to the projector (I brought all the adapters too, ugh) and was stuck with internet explorer in a crappy resolution (grr) which caused some difficulties.

Still, it was engaging enough that we had a few side conversations about open source (analogies to seeds, existing software/tools they use) and facilitate some questions about farmOS once it started “clicking” for people. During this particular conference there were two other sessions about using spreadsheets, one highlighting some methods developed by Josh Volk, which helped attract some like minded people I think.

Fielding these side conversations was valuable, but also attributed to running out of time (60 minutes) in the session :slight_smile: I rushed through the OpenTEAM + OFN stuff in the last 5 minutes probably. But I didn’t have expertise to go in-depth on each project anyways, so it was fine since my goal was to introduce the projects more generally.

I will say I gave out a “resources sheet” (linked in the forum post) which had links to everything I mentioned - this was greatly appreciated by everyone, and something I kept distributing throughout the rest of the conference as my oss propaganda :seedling: :grin:

Here’s my two cents: narrow the topic area down & focus on actionable items the audience (presumably farmers?) might be interested in. Most people are paying to attend and are hoping to get something out of it. I could have cut out some of the free form OSS talk and let more time for the practical software/tools and it would have been just as valuable.

To focus more on the “open pollinated / why you should care” aspect of things, here’s an idea: focus on actionable ways folks can get involved in our different communities & why this is valuable to them. The 3 presenters could share examples of this from their respective projects & highlight what value it has given the farmers.

I’ll try and join you all June 3rd :slight_smile:


Oh darn sorry peeps - typo in the meeting URL :arrow_up: . See you at right about now.

It’s always so lovely to spend time with @jgaehring and @paul121! We got together and talked about a bunch of stuff, but as I recall we identified two possible approaches to a talk at EcoFarm, the first a kind of “what’s in it for me,” more grounded in the day to day work of a farm, and the second a kind of intro-type treatment of open source, focusing on values and community.

If you are interested in contributing to the proposal or being a co-presenter, please oh please dive in to this doc before Thursday (when it’s due).

PS Jamie I will give Nextcloud a go for sure, but I am time crunched at the moment. Please forgive the googly doc.

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Yea that was a great chat! I’ll make sure to get some notes to you on the proposal by Wed!

LOL take your time! They extended the deadline by a week. I’ll shoot for getting something in by Wednesday June 16. Ping @jgaehring @sudokita @paul121 @gbathree

Hey there, sorry to be squeaking in just under the deadline, but the proposal seems perfect as-is to me. The aims seem very well stated and doesn’t seem to be much more that can be said given the limited word count.

Oh! haha, you just replied as I was writing this. Fair nuff!

The only other thing I was going to add was regarding presenters. I hesitate to put my name down for farmOS b/c I think @paul121 has more experience at this sort of thing and would do way better than I could, but I’m happy to take this on otherwise. Also, I dunno if @gbathree has any interest in presenting SurveyStack, but I think that could really appeal to some folks for its power and versatility. @ROSAgriculture also comes to mind.

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I am also hoping to be able to interest one of our OFN evangelists, an open source loving farmer, in appearing and being a contributor.

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Sorry, getting to this a bit late… just tossed some suggestions in the doc. I would nominate @jgaehring over myself for a session geared towards talking about open sources values more generally! Seems like we’re proposing a bit of a hybrid. Happy to help plan & review the session regardless!

Oh gosh, right on time, meaning a good 24 hours to spare! There are two versions of proposals in that editable doc, and you are welcome to take a look at it, edit it, add to it or do whatever you want. I will go ahead and submit it well before the deadline, which means more than 15 minutes before the deadline.

Yay, a new record! HOURS before the deadline and here are our two topis and descriptions. If you would like to be part of the fun in January assuming we are picked, please reach out - it would be fantastic to have you. Many thanks to @sudokita, @jgaehring, and @paul121 for the editing and brainstorming. hese are still editable for the next few hours in case something in hem or not in them makes you urgently want them to change.

Topic 1:
Title: Building Your Open Source Toolkit
Description: Until the last 25 years or so, farmers never had to think about the digital technology they would use to manage their operation, but now the right software tools are as indispensable as shovels, seeds, and water. A global community of farmers, software developers, and activists are collaborating to create open source tools that support farming operations while sharing your values and protecting your data. If you are wondering why you should care about open source, then this is the session for you. Join three farmers who have embraced open source’s free-range philosophy as they walk you through the basics of their open source toolkit, show you a few ways it can help you be a more successful farmer, and debate the pros and cons of digital technologies, open source or otherwise. We’ll reserve some time for discussion and hands-on play with software tools.

Topic 2:
Title: Data is the new Compost: Don’t give yours away!
Description: Chances are good that your farm is producing an important resource you are giving away, or worse, paying someone else to take and benefit from: data. Every transaction you make online, every credit card payment, and every social media post generates data about you and your customers that gets sold to people who want your money. In this session we’ll talk about how to get your farm data working for you. We’ll meet the people who are working to protect farmers’ data while creating useful tools to help you make well-informed decisions about your operation using that data. We’ll meet people from OpenTEAM, the Data Food Consortium, Purdue’s Ag Informatics Lab, and the Open Food Network, who are thinking about farmers and food system data every day. Your farm produces the resources it needs to grow more healthy, abundant crops every year: make sure you consider data in the mix!

Wish us luck, or jump aboard!


Well, yet again, we didn’t make it. Waaaah!

No feedback, as usual, but I asked them this: "Do you have any feedback for the team who put these proposals together? Is there another way to get this information to farmers at Ecofarm? Is ethical technology just not something that Ecofarm is interested in including in the conference? or maybe someone else is covering it better?

I’m not holding my breath, but one of these years I just know someone at EcoFarm is going to connect the dots! :slight_smile: (maybe someone already did and made a better proposal, I dunno!)

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As they say - you’re doin’ the lords work :slight_smile:

If it helps, you (and everyone like… in the universe) should listen to the Revolutions Podcast (Mike Duncan)… hearing the 75 year history and many many people and orgs which eventually culminated in the Russian Revolution in 1917 is a reminder of just how much persistence and patience is needed to get big ideas to happen.

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Thank you, @gbathree for the perspective!!! :purple_heart: