Transitions Conference Survey

Last week I (Kat Ying) attended a Transitions conference at Concordia University, a really active University in Montreal where I live. Some students, staff and organizations at this school are undertaking a big project to transition the food system of this campus to a local, sustainable, with student and community run and owned enterprises. It is a great dream.

So the majority of the people at this conference were people who have a hand in growing food, social enterprise, academics, activists, community organizers and farmers. They are my kind of people 😉 And they are really great people to collaborate on OpenFarm. They have a lot of knowledge and networks to share with OpenFarm; and OpenFarm could be a great platform for them to share their knowledge, work and projects with each other and more people too.

But I wonder how much can they connect to the OpenSource Ethos of OpenFarm? When I first hear about this project I had a lot of questions to ask about opensource. Basically I wanted to know, what makes this a community business, and not just-another-website. But after talking to Simon and Rory about the open source aspect of the website I began to see how we are so aligned. In fact, among gardeners, permaculturalists and community organizers, there is a lot of talk about ‘openknowledge, and openeconomies’ in our work. But I wondered, how much do the gardeners and community builders who could really use OpenFarm know and understand opensource and the creative commons as is meant for web site developing and intellectual property online? Especially since these are big tenets of the OpenFarm project?

So… so I took a survey. I figured I could ask outright. Basically I wanted to know how much overlap of knowledge is there between online/tech communities and food growers. If there is a lot of overlap,w e are good to go. If there isn’t then we, OpenFarm and especially community developers at OpenFarm, know that our outreach and conversations need to step back to a point of defining our terms. It might also be a chance to understand what is so special about OpenFarm in a way that makes sense to users.

So here is the Survey You can go there and fill it out. Your data will be added to the same sheet but categorized as internet gleaned data.

Of the 41 people at the conference filled out the survey. 7 declined. Another 20-30 were not reached out to.

73% of respondents said they were already growing food. 51% said they knew what they creative commons was. 71% said they knew what opensource was. I included a space for people to explain why creative commons and opensource were important to them. This space revealed to me that many people had explanations and definitions that were not strictly about opensource web coding or data. Many responses revealed that people had a looser or vague idea of what these tools are.

Based on this assessment of this community I have figured out the following things.

1. This community have a general understanding of opensource, but it is vague. Therefore a 201 level of conversation would be appropriate in social media and maybe in event and tabling work.

2.   I have located about 4 productive food growers who said they would want to participate/volunteer with us as we develop the website

3.  I have a basic template to change and create more ways of surveying for information and feedback from users and potential users

4. I have an email list of people who have said they want to get involved and I have some knowledge about them, if they grow food and in what capacity. So I can call on these specific people for interviews or feedback from specific groups/growers.


Do you grow food?

yes 30 73%
no 11 27%


Do you grow food…

personally 26 63%
collectively 10 24%
productively (with intent for sale) 8 20%
Other 2 5%

Where do you grow your food?

Indoors 8 20%
outdoors 1 2%
balcony 12 29%
Backyard 10 24%
occupied urban spaces 5 12%
rooftops 1 2%
greenhouses 0 0%
farms 0 0%
schools 3 7%
rural spaces 4 10%
community spaces 0 0%
Other 21 51%

Where do you learn how to grow food?

family 15 37%
friends 17 41%
schools 8 20%
workshops/programs 13 32%
books 13 32%
internet 16 39%
Other 15 37%

Why is growing food important to you?

Pleasure 21 51%
environmental reasons 12 29%
politics 13 32%
sustenance/ to feed yourself 13 32%
work/ to sell a product 7 17%
community 5 12%
Quality 0 0%
Health 0 0%
Other 16 39%

You haven’t started growing food yet

Do you want to learn how to grow food?

Yes 8 20%
No 3 7%

Would you like to tell us more?

no time
personally and collecitvely
my brother owns urban seedling, he could tell
would love to learn. growing food is important for conencting to what is REAL. what matters. I am interested on a holistic level
my partner grows food

Creative Commons

Do you know about the creative commons?

Yes 21 51%
No 20 49%


Is the creative commons important to you?

it puts information out there for the collective
like, people being creative, commonly? yes! It is important to embrace each other and support everyone
property is theft
because knwoledge/information should be as available as much as possible
In a general sense. Commons generallyis important to counter copyright and private property etc.
to keep knowledge and apply to the benefit of the collective development
liberate good knowledge
because it allows for community development
Only learned about it today (at the conference)
It is important! an unregulated way to share creative projects is so necessary
It allows information to be shared easily without copyright
It is about deep democracy
sharing of very important knowledge
alternative to wasteful destructive capitalist system
I guess it is important as it helps spread/free knowledge therefore helping the advancement of society
the term creative commons is new to me. It is an important quality to community and communication

Open Source

Do you know what open source is?

yes 29 71%
no 12 29%

Open Source

Is open source important to you?

collective intelligence must be free and accessible to all
for access to tools and info
sharing and community are necessary for skill and information sharing
collective solutions and common ownership for same reasons
a type of software that facilitates sharing
property is theft
it allows for community development and I do not believe in ownership

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