Hi all - @dornawcox, Dan Kittredge and David Forster from the Bionutrient Food Association, Michael Stenta from FarmOS and myself are in the early stages of organizing a new conference / community in the ag space. Structurally it’s based on what we did with GOSH.
We are looking for 1 or 2 more organizers. There’s no application, but just message me with an expression of interest. We are pretty white male middle-aged heavy, so ideally not that The ideal is someone involved in an ag-related software/hardware/ontological project, time to commit, facilitation or organizational experience, and fundraising experience/connections. That being said, we’re totally open and passion is most important! If you’re not it, maybe you know someone who is - if so please forward this to them or contact me!
Unlike GOSH, we will have a more regional focus (at least initially) in part to save cost and to narrow our range of use cases to make short-term successes more achievable. So international collaborators are welcome but be aware we will likely be focused on US/Europe-type farms + consumers.
Here’s the idea -->
Though food is made by private companies, information about our food system should be a public good.
Software and hardware now exists to collect and share data to improve production practices and consumer decisions to the benefit of everyone. Many organizations are creating new software and hardware tools for this very reason, but this work is being done in an uncoordinated and haphazard way. The result are many disparate, hard to find, disconnected parts producing incompatible data.
To create a loosely organized group of individuals and organizations driven by a single and clear vision: the tools for collecting, sharing, and viewing information about our food system should be open. The development process should be clearly mapped out and flexible so organizations can find the software/hardware easily if it already exists, or develop new software/hardware that benefits them and others.
We do not want to centralize the development process. As stakeholders ourselves, we want to make collaboration easier by:
Connecting with peers - there are many organizations working on open ag software and hardware today with overlapping interests. Let’s get together! Let’s talk about building software together BEFORE we spend time and money, not after!
Finding + inviting new peers - Let’s make a place where newcomers can easily find developers and users with overlapping experiences. People evaluating open vs closed ag software/hardware should find a thriving, engaged community which can make their work easier, faster, and better.
Creating an Open Ag Development Roadmap - If we collectively have a plan, then we can all contribute more effectively. Let’s reduce duplication of efforts, focus on common areas we all need, and put the effort of contributors into a broader context for funders so they can see the big picture.
How it could work
We think this should be a loosely organized collaborative, not a new organization, similar in structure to GOSH (openhardware.science). The core components of the collaborative are:
A conference -To build community, people need to meet face to face. Think development focused (developers + users + developer-users) but mission driven. The conference will help connect peers, establish development relationships, and flesh out and agree upon the development roadmap. The output provides funders, developers, and users a clear vision to connect with and plan for. Selection for attendees to the conference is a codified version of the community’s value statement: equitable and representative of the community we intend to serve (same as GOSH).
A forum - Rome wasn’t build at a 3 day conference . A roadmap means lots of work is done in the ‘off season’ to accomplish our shared goals.
A website - To contain our shared agreements (roadmap), vision, info about the conference, and host the forum. The landing page for newcomers, a place to share big news in the field.
A funding mechanism - Development is expensive. Attendees will all have (or at least can pursue) their own funding mechanisms for their own projects. In addition, we could have an organization (or several) selectively fund yearly Roadmap Priorities.
The organizing committee maintains the website, forum, and organizes the conference. In all work, organizers should follow the community’s interests, vision, values, and Roadmap.
Because the organizing committee is not an official organization, it uses a member-partner organization as a fiscal sponsor. The Biontrient Food Association has said they are willing to play that role, and use some staff time to help the on-the-ground conference organizing.