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The Green Life: Can Open-Source Models Decode Urban Agriculture?

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April 15, 2011

Can Open-Source Models Decode Urban Agriculture?

Vegetable harvest As if the tribulations of organic farming weren't enough (relentless gophers, early frosts, voracious bug appetites), often small-scale farmers must also navigate labyrinthine regulations just to get a chance to sell their harvest. Urban planner John Reinhardt hopes a new model of open-source agriculture will allow farmers to spend more time planting and less time decoding, thus expanding the urban-ag movement.

Reinhardt launched a series of user-friendly, interactive maps on his Grown in the City blog that color-code the different types of zoning ordinances; his site also includes food-sovereignty maps, as well as helpful applications and resources for agriculturalists to use and share.

Knowledge-sharing via open-source networks is gaining momentum. Today on TED, physicist Marcin Jakubowski presents his idea for "open-sourced blueprints for civilization." His vision is to provide how-to guides for building farm machines such as tractors and harvesters, thereby empowering people to create self-sustaining villages. 

Reindhardt and Jakubokski's ideas are guided by by the assumption that the best kinds of progress come when many people can collaborate and contribute knowledge to a common, user-friendly source.

--Rosie Spinks

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