One of the core and inspiring principles of OpenFarm is the Open aspect. I work in community development and gardening. This project has brought me into another magical realm of human creativity, the internet. Through this I have come to see how gardening, community organizing, and the internet are structurally analogous, networks. In all three the strength and the value grows when we network, and even more, when we share. In all three there is an inversion of how a capitalist system creates value. The more you hoard, the less abundant and valuable your product becomes. The more you share, the more you network, and the more you network the stronger and more abundant the products of the network become.
In Gardening and Farming we work with the soil. A couple weeks ago I attended a great conference about soil to kick of 2015 as The Year of Soil. The panel was almost as diverse as the complex substrate we were celebrating. An indigenous seed saver, a social entrepreneur, an artist, a local organic farmer, a social organizer, and a soil scientist. The social organizer called herself a soil worker. I found this a powerful metaphor. I like this thought of people and micro-organisms being functionally so similar, linking living things, structures, organizations and aggregates that together weave a complex, mysterious and wonderfully habitable space.
As our conversations cross from online spaces, to geographical projects, to soil scientists, to permaculturalists and gardeners, and community organizers, the words and terminology also spread and plant ideas, like seeds, in new spaces and new conversations. In community organizing I hear people borrow words from the tech community and talk about nodes and networks and opensource. Online people rally around the creative commons. The idea of the commons comes from land management and protecting physical spaces and resources through collective governance and management.
In a way I see OpenFarm in three spheres, the internet, community building, and the food and plant system. That might be simplified since they all overlap and intersect. But I find it useful to think about it in these three spaces, online, communities, the actual gardens. And in each of these spaces the structure of a network and the principles sharing lead to more bounty and resilience.
By connecting the network of people growing food, working with the network of plants and soil, OpenFarm is a network for networks. The fact that it is proudly aware and striving to be open in business structure, software and data makes it an optimal platform for growing communities.
I found these podcasts from David Bollier really instructive on the idea of the Commons Online, in resource management and in law.