the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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photosynq: open source platform for collaborative problem solving

grassrootsmappingforum250wordsPhotosynQoverview

“PhotosynQ is an open source software and sensor platform where communities can identify, research, and implement new methods to solve their local problems. Our initial focus is on agriculture, where we’re bringing together researchers, extension, crop consultants, and farmers to develop precision ag solutions in markets largely ignored by ‘big ag’ (small farms, niche crops, developing world markets, etc.). Examples include sensor-based methods for early identification of disease, mid-season prediction of yield, evaluating soil quality, and many others.

Our perspective is that sharing data simply isn’t enough – data quality is paramount to produce results that actually matter. Data must be collected using consistent methods, comparable devices, with strategies to identify outliers. Even with all that in place, the community has to have the skills to collect, analyze, and interpret the data correctly with minimal mistakes. At the same time, every project’s data needs are different – different methods, devices, methods of analysis, etc. While consistency and flexibility seem at odds, we’ve worked hard to make a platform in which they both exist, and scaling from new user to a developer is relatively easy. Unlike Xively or other streaming IoT data sites, we’re not trying to be the solution to every IoT problem. If you’re trying to track the temperature in your garage, we’re probably not what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to collaborate across a community, solve a complex problem, and develop a sensor-enabled solution… we’re worth checking out.

Go to www.photosynq.org for more. Hope to see you there!”


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fallen fruit! plant your perimeters! talent needed!

Fallen Fruit began by mapping fruit trees growing on or over public property in Los Angeles. The collaboration has expanded to include serialized public projects and site-specific installations and happenings in various cities around the world. Check out their wonderfully fancy website HERE


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joel salatin shares his opinion with greenhorns after nyt glorifies new ag data and technology

“The demise of the small family farm has been a long time coming;” writes New York Times journalist Quentin Hardy. The solution to escaping this demise? Get big. Get REAL big, through investing heavily in expensive, mind-boggling technology in order to stay competitive in the world of corn and soy. In last week’s article, Working the Land and the Data, Midwestern farmer Kip Top was interviewed about how his implementation of the newest technology and data (drones, GMO crops, infrared cameras, GPS combines, iphone apps for irrigation, cloud computing systems and satellite imagery) has allowed him to increase his production from 700 acres in 1970 to 20,000 acres today.

Joel Salatin shared his retort with the Greenhorns:

As a puff piece for industrial agriculture, the Nov. 30 NYT Working the Land and the Data story about the 20,000 acre Indiana farm does an incredible disservice to earthworms, soil life, and the entire integrity food movement.

At the risk of sounding ungrateful, many of us think farming this way is terrifying, violent, and harmful.  The world has twice as many obese as hungry.  Frankly, we don’t want or need these bushels.  They destroy soil, create chemicalized riparian dead zones, produce nutrient deficiencies and depend on taxpayer subsidies.

To insinuate that those of us who create intricate multi-speciated bio-mimicry farms are technologically backward is not only incorrect; it’s disingenuous.  On our farm, we use computer micro-chip electric fence energizers to manage cattle so they don’t even need corn.  How about that for futuristic?  And yes, the production per acre is the same while building soil, hydrating the landscape, and sequestering carbon.

And if I don’t bow to Monsanto, I’m not using business principles?  Dear me, it is precisely because of business principles that I think Monsanto is the Devil. The real kicker in the accompanying video, of course, is the notion that the featured Tom farm is smart.  The obvious insinuation is that the rest of us aren’t smart.  Pardon me, but I’ll take the smartness of nature’s template over the contrivances of Monsanto anytime.

And by the way, my family enjoys being with me on our farm.  It’s an aesthetically and aromatically sensually romantic place.  What a horrifying thought that I would need driverless tractors in order to spend more time with my family–the ultimate segregated farm.  How tragic.  Diminishing farmers indicate a weakening civilization.  And yes, farmers include backyard gardeners.

Armed with our laptops, electron microscopes, and a deep awe toward ecology and food integrity, a whole new generation of farmers is realizing that community-building diversified farms enjoy more economic, ecological, and emotional resiliency than industrial models.