Archive for Open Source Agroecology (OSA)

VIDEO: The (Open-Source) Ecologist

News 21 from Berkeley, California visited Factor e Farm a few weeks back. They are currently producing The Ration, a food and health reporting project by UC Berkeley School of Journalism. Factor e Farm is the first feature in this series. This is an impressively well done 9 minute piece. Thanks, News 21.

Trailer to The Ration:

News21 | TheRation Trailer from News21 Berkeley 2011 on Vimeo.

The (Open-Source) Ecologist:

The (Open-Source) Ecologist from News21 Berkeley 2011 on Vimeo.


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100 More Fruit Trees and Update

We just planted out 100 more fruit trees – which we grafted back in spring. We upgraded the string trimmer to a chain, mowed down a path, planted, fertilized, and mulched heavily:

Regarding the funding baskets deployed 2 weeks ago in our progress update, thank you to everyone who donated. Here’s the present status:

As of today, the Power Cube II is over the brim, and the others need work. The total collected so far is $1575, or 34% of the total $4700, which is decent for the half-way point of the month funding period. Read the announcement to get excited about what we are doing – and then chip in if you can. We’ve got more vision than money, still, though we think this can turn around any day if we get a couple of sales from our first Full Product Release. It appears that this will take more than passive marketing on our side – but we are now well-positioned to produce The Liberator, with our new 150 ton hole puncher and heavy-duty drill press added to our capacity pool.

We’ll be migrating to for crowd funding purposes – as one of our True Fans is behind this platform, and we are discussing how can provide support in collaboration, networking, and branding towards the goals of post-scarcity economics.
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Strings Attached: Open Source String Trimmer

When the ragweeds grow to 12 feet at Factor e Farm, I guess it’s time to mow the lawn.

In the usual bootstrapping fashion – today’s experiment was building and using an 8-foot diameter string trimmer powered by LifeTrac, with 1/2″ wire for the cutter. Did you ever wonder what it would be like to supersize a string trimmer? We do not recommend that you do this at home.

This video shows fabrication of the string trimmer, with assistance from our recently open-sourced 150 ton hole puncher – in practical use for the first time. The trimer is then taken into the field – for some powerful exterior trim.

Music by DLDN Instrumental care of

Supersized String Trimmer from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.

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Pipping and Growing

Here is an update on the first set of pips from Hexahatch v2.0.
Here is an update on the other peeps of Factor e Farm. In a few days, Sean and I will begin full fabrication documentation video on the next copy of The Liberator open source CEB press, where the funding basket for it is filling as we speak.

Open Source People from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.

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Honey Extractor Tractor: The Craziest Thing Done with LifeTrac So Far

LifeTrac, our open source tractor, features extreme flexibility by design. We just used LifeTrac as a honey extractor. We mounted our universal rotor on the front-end loader, and used it to extract honey from comb. The process starts with a hot knife to open up the comb. We made the hot knife from a heat shrink heat gun coupled to a tube with a sharpened blade of 1/8″ steel welded to the tube, and the hole of the tube was reduced by welding on a bolt washer. The blade gets hot and cuts the comb relatively well, though this is not as user-friendly as a standard electric knife because your hands get too messy with honey all over, so the heat gun risks getting flooded with honey. We request help with the open-sourcing of a hot knife if anyone has explicit ideas on how to make one. While a fed dollars in parts, hot knives run for $90 at the store.

The honey extraction process involves centrifuging combs of honey, which are opened with a hot knife as above. See our operation in action:

Open Source Honey Extractor from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.

Here’s an operational performance review. Read the rest of this entry »

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June Agriculture Walkthrough at Factor e Farm

Here is a video produced by Sean, on the agriculture overview of Factor e Farm:

The bottom line is that resilience in food is not difficult to come by, but it presently requires more energy than we have with 2 full time people – engaged fully in open source equipment development. We are prioritizing technical development, such that appropriate-technology mechanized agriculture makes food provision effective. Our next priorities in terms of the type of generalists we’d like to have at Factor e Farm is 2 more flexible fabricators and the open source agroecologist. The flexible fabricators should generalize in power electronics and CNC controls, and the agroecologics should generalize in agricultural and processing equipment development.

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Open Source Chicken Incubator – Working Prototype Complete

Last year, we have begun work on the automatic, open source chicken incubator – Hexahatch. It did not work well, primarily because the big rotor was too heavy. This year’s design – Hexahatch v2.0 – was changed to a simpler, still-air design, with a flat disk as the rotor for turning the eggs. We finally have a working prototype, after replacing a faulty thermostat and after upgrading the motor to a stronger one. See the incubator in action:

Here is an explanation of the build and issues involved: Read the rest of this entry »

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TED for Open Source and Open Source Clothing

Thomas Becker just signed up as a True Fan, after finding out about our work through John Robb’s blog, Global Guerillas. He is the “owner” of Lastwear – an open source clothing company based in Seattle, USA. The Last in Lastwear refers to lasting – just as Life in LifeTrac refers to lifetime design. Lastwear is currently in the process of converting all of their patterns to a digital format so that they can be released for download from their site. I look forward to the time when the resilient community infrastructure base will include the production of clothing beyond sweatshops, and we already have some leads in this direction at Factor e Farm. Growing the fiber can be done with the LifeTrac infrastrucure, processing the fiber will be done with related equipment (to be developed), and the last step is sewing from open source design patterns such as those to be available globally from Lastwear. This is important – as everybody wears clothes – just like everybody uses a tractor, directly or indirectly, if they eat food. There is no question about the potential economic impact of open source clothing – on sweat shops in particular.
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Pickled Deer

About a week ago we had the fortune of being given a lot of dear meat by our neighbour. As it happens we did not have enough fridge or freezer space to freeze the meat so we decided to adopt a different approach. We got out some canning jars, cleaned them out and then proceeded to prepare the meat for storage. We actually heard about this from Goerge Gordon’s talkshow.

To prepare the meat, we cut the meat up into chunks and put it into a big saucepan (about 1-inch squared chunks). Then we filled the saucepan with water so as to just cover the meat and put the saucepan on the stove. We boiled the meat until it was well cooked through and then drained all the water off (we kept the water that was now a delicious gravy for future meals). We then packed the cooked meat into the jars adding generous amounts of salt along the way and once each jar was full we then added vinegar to the brim and sealed the jar tight.

In the photo below you can see the finished product along with ingredients used to prolong storage time.

In the background, you also see a hunk of whole wheat Factor e Bread peeking out at you. It’s an addition to our culinary homebrews.

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Open Source Chicken Incubator Continued – Hexahatch v2.0

Marcin takes us into the OSE One Room Schoolhouse and this time explains how to build a chicken incubator in which 107 eggs can be placed. This is evolution of our previous work from last year, where we go from a forced-air to a still-air, automatic egg-turning incubator. This 8 minute video shows how to build the aptly named Hexahatch v2.0:

We will now put what we’ve learned in this lesson into practice and report back with the results later. See the link to the Hexahatch 2 page on the wiki for parts sourcing, and the CAD of the incubator at OpenPario.

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