Factor E Farm

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"we are humble farmer scientists - working to develop a world class research center for decentralization technologies. Now there's a tool for doing this: open source technology"

URL = http://factorefarm.org/


"The focus of our Global Village Construction program is to deploy small intentional communities that live according to principles of right livelihood. We are considering the ab initio creation of nominally 12 person communities, by networking and marketing this Buy Out at the Bottom (BOAB) package, at a fee of approximately $5k to participants. With 12 people, that is $60k seed infrastructure capital. With integrated skill of the community integrator, plus individual skills, there is a chance of success, in terms of creating a community with unprecedented quality of life. This quality of life is based on efficient operation, plus 100% voluntary lifestyle, based on transcendence of material constraints. When resource constraints become a non-issue through wise choice of technology, skill, and open source knowledge-enabled flexible production systems for self-sufficiency - then freedom and human creativity are unleashed. As such, the community begins to function as a place of freedom - promoting pursuits of a research and development lifestyle dedicated to the benefit of all humanity. The main working assumption - one already expounded by historical leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, E. F. Schumacher, Buckminster Fuller, and many others - is that economic self-sufficiency is the only true route to a happy and prosperous society. Be in charge of producing your needs, and the world will be a better place." (http://factorefarm.org/about.html)


Conducted by TED blog:

"What about the Factor e Farm community?

We’re recruiting more people to join us. Our goal is to get our population to 24 people by the end of 2013. We now have a farm manager onsite, so we’re beginning full agriculture so we can produce local food. We aim to build studios from compressed block — 300 square feet — in one week, including real-time pressing and laying. We just built a 4,000 square foot living unit for 10 people — double brick walls with straw insulation in between. We’re off-grid, but we’ve got flush toilets, electricity. We also have a composting toilet — different options for different people.

There’s a little bit of a gender imbalance. We’ve got one woman, on site. So we encourage women to join. And we’re building the community. And that’s where we’re at right now. Next, we need to nail down the strategic plan and a business plan, because there are many different directions we can go with this.

What kind of people are you looking for?

We basically look for people who are lifestyle-motivated people who want to set up similar operations, and they are direct stakeholders. Our farm director wants to be a farmer eventually, and she’s learning all the tools and techniques. Our production director wants to start a facility in another location once he’s done here. So we’re looking for people who really want to use the tools themselves. We pay people with skills and access to the technologies that they would otherwise have to pay money for. That’s the lifestyle-investorship model – where we’re trying to get people who are really interested, so they have the motivation and the willingness to work hard to make this a reality. We can also pay people for talent that we couldn’t get otherwise.

Psychologically speaking, this is an interesting experiment.

That is the most interesting part. That, in fact, is going to be the biggest challenge. The technology is easy. It doesn’t have a mind of its own. But with people, we’re noticing that as we develop the experiment, we also have to train the people for mental health. You’ve got to be a mature person. Your mindset has to evolve from a zero-sum game to post-scarcity. It’s a lot about personal growth. It’s huge — this is simply getting to the evolution of people as human beings.

I think a lot about integrated humans and life/work integration. Why aren’t people really working where they live or making their life their passion and work? What we do is our passion. That level of integration is the real benefit of what this can provide. That’s on a more philosophical level, and it’s also very practical for me. I’m living that right now and pursuing my passion. And I have a low-cost environment to make that happen in a responsible way.

How far can you go with this? Looking way forward, at some point you’ll need healthcare, education…

Absolutely. Right now we’re simply starting with the basics of infrastructure. The next things are education, health, financial systems, governance. The medical stuff will probably going to be the toughest. Then we go into things like semiconductor manufacturing. Our goal is to show that on 30 acres, with 30 people — that’s not highly replicable perhaps, because they’re typically superstars — see how far we can go into creating a modern standard of living, up to things like semiconductors and metals, all from on-site resources. It’s intended to be a significant data point for what a small group of individuals can do to set a benchmark for prosperity.

How do people respond to your ideas?

There are essentially two camps. One says, “Whoa, this idea’s going to take over the world and it’s worth supporting.” A lot of people are interested in the principle.

And then there are a people who say, “If you’re open-source, you can’t scale. What’s your business model? How are you going to disseminate?” And that’s a hard question. For me the answer is clear, it’s that we’re reproducing very common items that everybody uses. If we can produce them at a lower cost — say 5 to 10 times lower — then we can be in business. We’re optimizing product design for simplicity, lifetime design, modularity, interchangeability of parts. We’re trying to tame technology. I think that’s a solid foundation.

And then people say, “Well what’s your revenue model?” We’re aiming to show that a 4,000 square foot facility — a flexible digital fabrication facility that’s part of our tool set — can net $80,000 per month with four fabricators. Our goal is to demonstrate super efficient production, which we will use to bootstrap fund ourselves and then teach others how to get into enterprise. So it’s a production and teaching model — we will replicate by teaching people the skills. They can then either start facilities like this, or set up a research center, or any kind of land-based facility. These tools can be used from rebuilding villages, to starting up education facilities, organic farms, production facilities, all kinds of things. Therefore, there is lots of potential in positioning ourselves as a distributive enterprise incubator. We will simply offer efficient, low-cost products — desirable just about anywhere in the world." (http://blog.ted.com/2012/07/27/civilization-reboot-fellows-friday-with-marcin-jakubowski/)