Open Food Movement

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This blog was written by Kirsten Larsen (Open Food Network), Daniel Grover (Farm Hack) and Tristan Copley-Smith (Open Source Beehives) - with some special assistance on open data from Alex Bayley (Growstuff).


Kirsten Larsen:

"A movement of practitioners is emerging who are applying Open Source philosophy to food systems work. Our goal in this article is to recognize the power of this fledgling movement and to highlight some of the people and organizations who are using Open Source for food.

For food systems work, Open Source means open ideas, knowledge, plans, documents, tools, code, data, and so on, all open for use and improvement by others. Instead of privatizing and patenting intellectual property, we're sharing designs and building off each other's innovations.

When source code is "open," anyone can start where someone else left off. Any documented piece of knowledge can be reused and redirected to fit unique situations and local needs. It can be shared across the globe and implemented quickly and easily by local people and organizations working within their communities

In the late 1990s, the software community popularized the term "open source" to denote "open code" which is available for use by all. The idea was powerful and gave rise to a vibrant Open Source software ecosystem. We all use products built on Open Source every day. Apache servers run the internet; Wikipedia has revolutionized how we seek and share information.

However, Open Source is a contemporary expression of an ancient human idea. We even have cultural institutions, rules, and norms centered around the exchange of genetic material. Agricultural fairs originated as forums for genetic code and breed exchange. What a shame that the norms have shifted to intellectual property, exclusive ownership, patents, widgets, and corporate control. Supporting openness demonstrates an understanding that together we are stronger.

On farms and in food businesses around the world, people are inventing creative solutions every day. As we rebuild the small farm economy and reintegrate agriculture as a central part of our lives, the tools we seek are often unavailable. For the past century, industrial designers and corporations focused on scaling up. Politicians and the agribusinesses executives espoused a “get big or get out” philosophy. However, the tools we need are appropriately scaled to suit our needs as regional producers feeding local communities.

In the spirit of Open Source, this co-authored post is our first step in starting to link up and cross-pollinate this work. The P2P Foundation has an “agrifood” repository in its vast library of resources. The Open Food Foundation, based in Melbourne, Australia, has the beginnings of a wiki compiling open food projects. Farm Hack and Open Source Ecology have growing databases of open tools. We have listed below some of the exciting projects in the #openfood space." (


Via [1]:

Fuller and updated directory via: Collaboration and Interoperability of Open Food Projects and Systems

Open Hardware for Agriculture and Food Production

"Farms need tools. Those tools need to be appropriate to the kind of resilient agricultural systems our future food ecosystems need."

  1. Open Source Ecology
  2. FarmHack
  3. Open Source Beehives
  4. FarmBot
  5. GreenWave
  6. Garden Geek

Open Software for Agriculture and Food Production

"The right software can help make sustainable farming viable and increase the quality of life of farmers. Open software can increase market access and ease and efficiency of local food distribution through e-commerce, inventory management, logistics management, facilitating co-packing, organizing local markets, farm to institution sales, supply chain management, etc."

  1. Open Food Network
  2. Open Food Source, StroudCo, Boxomatic
  3. Farm Management Platforms such as Farm OS, Farmier, Crop Planning Software, and FARMDATA
  4. Openfarm

Open Data for Agriculture and Food Production

"As we gather information about food production, distribution and use, it's vital that we share it with each other. Accessible repositories of food-related-data, freely licensed, let more open food projects "stand on our shoulders" and help innovation flourish. We envision a multiplicity of food databases, all open, and all interconnected via APIs, linked open data, and other data exchange standards. Efforts are already underway to dicsuss how we can share data between open food projects and interoperate."

  1. Growstuff
  2. Open Agriculture Data Alliance
  3. Data Commons Cooperative
  4. Open Ag Data Alliance
  5. Open Food Facts
  6. Practical Plants
  7. Open Recipes

Open Seeds

"The genetic source code of our agriculture is being hijacked and privatized. A movement of resistance is developing and it’s getting sharper and better organized all the time. Seed banks, seed sharers and growers, and software and hardware to support them are the heart of open food:"

  1. Open Source Seed Initiative
  2. WordPress SeedBank Plugin

Open Research and Citizen Science for Agriculture and Food Production

"From pollutant monitoring in water and air, to radiation, soil science and carbon sequestration – we cannot trust that traditional research institutions will supply the information or research we need to understand degradation and effectively regenerate our environment. Research that is uncorrupted by financial or corporate interests must come from citizen science and trusted citizen organizations. To act tactically we need to know what’s happening to the planet and on our farms."

  1. Public Lab
  2. Open Source Beehives
  3. GreenWave


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