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Josh Nisenfeld

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Open Source Food Supply

Even in my cramped city backyard I found enough room to grow 5 varieties of herbs and vegetables this past summer.

For a moment, picture a city as a huge farm, producing multitudes of crops and livestock. This "city-farm" is of course composed of millions of individual "farmers". These "farmers" are city dwellers that farm. They are teachers, doctors, priests etc...

Having a garden, no matter what size, is actually not that rare in a city. So my neighbor grew some tomatoes, and I grew basil. Who cares? That is by no means a "city-farm".

To get from a few individual, unconnected growers, to a full fledged, interdependent "city-farm", in which all inhabitants have enough completely local, diverse types of food to eat solely through barter, there has to be a main decision maker and coordinator.

This decision maker of course will be a computer based program, because all we are dealing with is plain ol' data.

For example:
Person A is interested in participating in the "city-farm". Person A enters various data, i.e. horizontal and vertical space, amount of sunlight, type of soil etc... Person B then enters the same information and so on, and thousands upon thousands of other people do the same. Once the database is compiled the program then assigns the ideal crops, or livestock to achieve optimal growing conditions in a particular backyard.

THE MORE PEOPLE THERE ARE THAT PARTICIPATE, THE MORE VARIETY THERE WILL BE IN THE LOCAL FOOD SUPPLY.

All the while, data is continuously reported back to the program. Since if a particular purple tomato was in high demand the program would adjust during the next growing season by assigning more growers to purple tomatoes, and less to the yellow tomatoes of which 45 pounds went to waste.

In order for the system to function, it must be kept separate from other forms of trade.If someone decided to pay a plumber in tomatoes this could offset the balance and leave no tomatoes available.

What does everyone think about this?

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    Sep 29 2011: Beware you paddle a lake in search of water.

    There's been loads of progress on this front.

    Search 'spin-farming', and/or 'John Jeavons' for some happy reading.
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      Sep 29 2011: :-)
    • Oct 5 2011: This is really less about growing food, and more about managing the local food supply in the most efficient manner. What John Jeavons did would be difficult in cities.

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