geothermal greenhouse – growing exotic fruit in the nebraska winter

posted June 20, 2018

Russ Finch is the ultimate grandaddy of Farm Hack . He designed a greenhouse in his backyard that is heated using geothermal energy. Despite the fact that winter temperatures in Nebraska can drop to -20°F, the retired mailman grows oranges, lemons, grapes, pomegranates and more without paying for heat. The setup he uses draws on the earth’s stable temperature which is around 52 degrees in Nebraska to grow exotic fruit in the snow.

Finch first discovered the joys of geothermal heating while building his first house with his wife in 1979. Years later they decided to add a huge greenhouse in the backyard. The greenhouse is designed so that all components work together – the the foundation is 4ft deep and the roof is angled to catch the southern sun. The only energy input in the greenhouse is the fan used to pump the naturally warmed air around evenly.

Finch reckons that anybody can build a geothermal market producing greenhouse for about $25,000. Once the system is set up, it starts to pay for itself immediately due to the huge decrease in energy inputs. He sells a “Citrus in the Snow” report detailing his work with his “geo-air” greenhouses.


bicimakina: biking across the US celebrating alternative uses for human-power

posted May 15, 2018

credit: bicimakina

 

You may be familiar with Farm Hack, started by Greenhorns founder Severine. Farm Hack is a worldwide community of farmers that build and modify their own tools (including a few bicycle based tools like the bike tractor). But have you heard about Bicimakina? Bicimakina is a community of makers, educators, and enthusiasts all joined by a common love of human-powered machines. Pedal-powered blenders and hand-cranked grain mills are just a few of the awesome machines that these guys have come up with. Their mission is to create a renaissance of interest and exploration into human-powered technology.

This fall, the Bicimakina team are leaving Oregon and heading across the US on an epic bike trip to find and interview other like-minded Human-Powered Machine users and builders. If you are one of these minded people get in touch with them and tell them about your project and they might just come to you! Their trip will take a year, and their exact route will be determined by the locations of the people who are going to be on the show but their goal is to do a full loop across the US.

Check out their website HERE


the right to repair movement takes on apple and john deere in nebraska

posted August 18, 2017

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Photograph: Olivia Solon for the Guardian

“Kyle is one of many farmers in the US fighting for the right to repair their equipment. He and others are getting behind Nebraska’s “Fair Repair” bill, which would require companies to provide consumers and independent repair shops access to service manuals, diagnostic tools and parts so they aren’t limited to a single supplier. They have an unlikely ally: repair shops for electronic items like iPhones, tablets and laptops who struggle to find official components and information to fix broken devices. This means the bill could benefit not just farmers but anyone who owns electronic goods. There’s also a benefit to the environment, as it would allow for more refurbishment and recycling instead of sending equipment to the landfill,” (more…)


the right to repair and the role of open source technology.

posted June 29, 2017

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The right to repair movement is gaining traction across the globe despite pushback from powerful industries, however there is little dispute that it is being led by farmers seeking alternatives to costly licensing restrictions. Farm Hacks and open source technology are issues that are close to our hearts here at Greenhorns and we are delighted to see the continual growth of the movement.

“Imagine that you’re a farmer who bought a John Deere tractor for $25,000 – or perhaps a big, heavy-duty model for $125,000 or more.  Then something goes wrong with the computer software inside the tractor (its “firmware”).  Thanks to a new licensing scheme, only John Deere can legally fix the tractor – for exorbitant repair prices.  Or maybe you want to modify the tractor so it can do different things in different ways.  So sorry:  the license prohibits you from bypassing the encryption, taking it to an independent repair shop, or fixing it yourself.” 

– An excerpt from David Bollier’s recent article about open source technology and the right to repair.

To read the full article click HERE


accessible innovation

posted May 8, 2017

Haven’t we been hearing or a long time that that human innovation and technology will be the thing that gets us through the projected crisis’ ahead, from the environmental, to the social and political. Yet even as we are seeing an unprecedented increase in affordable technologies, these solutions still tend to consolidate power in the hands of a few as most are proprietary by design.

Wasn’t it Wendell Berry that said a solution is not a solution if it is not available to all? It’s a rational that resonates with a lot of the opensource and farmhack ethos of simple, user designed, accessible technologies and practices. Because beyond just being accessible, open source innovations respond to the needs of a community rather than being prescriptive solutions coming from outside.

We’re excited about this little project by some folks from France called The Gold of Bengal. The group has been sailing a boat made of recycled material, navigating the the world in search of different interesting initiatives. Their current voyage began in 2015 and for the next 3 years they are documenting low-technology innovations that they encounter along the way.

Three cheers for community led, decentralized, open innovation!

You can find out more info about the Nomade des Mers voyage here and look at some of their low-tech lab documentation here. And while you’re feeling inspired maybe you want to contribute some of your own low tech solutions to the farmhack tool list.


three top-notch videos on farm hack

posted April 3, 2017

Ever wanted to explain Farm Hack to someone who’s not quite agriculturally literate, like, say your mother? We recommend: Farm Hack from farmrun on Vimeo for the purpose. But we also just recommend it for your watching pleasure. Some videos are too good to wither away in the recesses of the internet. They deserve to be watched regularly. My favorite is the next one down: something about the galvanizing nature of bagpipes just make the stakes feel considerably higher…

Farm Hack 2015 from Sylvie Planel on Vimeo.


the incredible american-made, open source, radically accessible, and utterly adaptable tractor

posted February 28, 2017

One thing that is clear when you look at Oggún’s website, watch its videos, and study its tractor, is that this a no-frills organization. No frills: just results. And that is precisely why we love them and it so much.

In his ever-relevant essay “In Distrust of Movements,” Wendell Berry writes that the local food and land movement must “content itself to be poor,” because, “We need to find cheap solutions, solutions within the reach of everybody, and the availability of a lot of money prevents the discovery of cheap solutions. The solutions of modern medicine and modern agriculture are all staggeringly expensive, and this is caused in part, and maybe altogether, because of the availability of huge sums of money for medical and agricultural research.”

What we see here, in the Oggún tractor, is exactly what kind of practical, pragmatic results come from a thrifty approach. Accessing Cuba’s local food shortage, Cuban-born  Horace Clemmons and his business partner Saul Berenthal quickly realized that Cuban farmers needed technology that was simple, rugged, and easy-to-repair. And then they asked, why don’t tractors like this already exist, tractors like the original Allis Chalmers G that farmers in the US used in the 1950s? They suspected that stock-based shareholder business models might be to blame: too much money and the input of too many people with money who just do not understand the problems of small farmers.

So, in the grand spirit of Farm Hack, they used open-source technology to build a tractor with all off-the-shelf parts. Thus, repairs can be done in the field and in small local machine shops. Oggún adapted its business model to keep over-head costs low, partner closely with other local businesses, and never develop products that are planned for obsolescence. The tractors is made in Alabama, but it’s available to and possibly revolutionary for small family farmers all around the world.

Tune into Greenhorns Radio today at 4:00 PM to hear Locky Carton, Oggún partner and graduate of the University of Iowa’s agricultural business program, speak more about this exciting project. If you can’t tune in today, don’t forget that a podcast version of our show is always available at the Heritage Radio Network!


commons based technology: a glimpse inside l`atelier paysan

posted January 6, 2017

farm hack, atelier

Farmer, tool hacker, organizer, and self styled agricultural anthropologist (and, we’re proud to say, a GH blog editor) Samuel Oslund takes us on a journey into les Rencontres de l’Atelier Paysan. Les Rencontres is a yearly gathering of farmers from across France, hosted by our French farm hacking heroes  l’Atelier Paysan (roughly The Peasant’s/agrarian Workshop).  The event is a hands on skill sharing celebration, filled with food, good wine, and some fairly strange music. (more…)


french farm hack’s registration open now!

posted May 27, 2016

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You will have the opportunity to take part in a wealth of activities: introductory sessions to metal work, talks, workshops, conferences, etc. In this form you can tell us the activities that interest you the most, and help us to put together a programme that suits your needs!
In order to keep things simple, we advise you to tick “Definitely” for:
– the ongoing workshop which you are most interested in
– a maximum of 2 introductory workshops
The aim is not only to tell us what you’re interested in, but also what you feel you will be able to do, without trying to cram in too much.

To take a look and to book,  click HERE!


what does severine use to get stuff done?

posted May 18, 2016

Severine von Tscharner Fleming

Severine von Tscharner Fleming

Organiser, cultural worker (Greenhorns, Agrarian Trust, Farm Hack)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Severine, an organizer and cultural worker in the young farmers movement. I run Greenhorns in the Champlain Valley of New York, I’m founder of Agrarian Trust, and co-founder and board secretary of Farm Hack. I’m also involved with quite a few other projects including mixing up wild-crafted seaweeds, fruits, and flower petals into herbal teas for a little farm business on the side.

You may have noticed the phenomena of the new agrarian movement — out on the weekends selling our food at farmers’ markets. Local agriculture is a compelling, diverse and healthy alternative to corporate mega-culture farming. My colleagues-in-arms have put their lives into direct action by founding thousands of new, small and medium-sized family-based businesses across the country. My main work is to initiate and coordinate creative networks that support my community’s needs. That means connecting people, helping with access and mobility to overcome inevitable obstacles, and transmitting farmers voices and viewpoints out into media-space.

This work crosses many sectors, formats and institutional forms. It includes web-based communities that create and share open-source tools, as in Farm Hack. It includes direct contact with archives, public and private libraries, older people, oral and folk narratives, junk shops and radical micro-histories like Grange Future. It involves small teams of humans making grass-roots media (radio, video, anthologies/publications) like the New Farmers Almanac, and Greenhorns Guide to Cooperative Farming. It includes social media, Instagram and making our own cooperative film festival for outreach on college campuses. It includes sailboats and cargo-value-chain logistics. It includes engaging programmers and researchers to do mapping, working with lawyers to craft new legal forms of commons-based governance. It is wide ranging and more expansive than I ever expected, and it takes me out on the rural roads, almost constantly tracking down the future budding up from the agrarian underground.

What hardware do you use?

I’m sorry to admit it, but I’m on my 9th Apple. It seems like I’ve stared at a computer pretty much every day since 6th grade – my brother says I’m addicted to it. I like the Brother printers and the Canon cameras. When I’m at home I use an old-fashioned roller-dial phone for my radio show, which gives the best sound quality, but often I’m on the road and my listeners cringe at the bovine background chatter from the busted up old iPhone. I like the old iPhone software, not the new stuff. Kids these days!

I’m a luddite who needs wifi. It’s a challenge working in rural and remote areas, hobo-ing and making films, while trying to manage workflows in 3 timezones on snatches of Internet. It does get done, but my calves are bloody from raging around in a techno-bramble patch for so many years and I’m not good at it. Suggestions are deeply welcome. It’s only sheer persistence and the massive social architecture, a baroque brocade of co-operators and allies that keep the machines running, and servers clear of space-trash. What I really want is to live in a world with less computers, and a more appropriate level of complexity. I’d like to live in a place where setting up a meeting happens in a common kitchen, informally at mealtimes, and is synched not by algorithms, but according to our daily routine of sunrise, tea-drinking, goat-milking, and a leisurely rye toast with butter. I’d like a recycled, refurbished, off-grid solar server (that is locally owned) run by a friend of mine who barters for goat milk, kombu + rosehip jam.

And what software?

(more…)