Bridging Analogies

I have come to see my job at OpenFarm as a kind of bridge between earthy garden farming communities, and the geeky online community that created OpenFarm. It has been really interesting for me to see the fundamental parallels between the two worlds, seemingly so far a part. And on an introspective level, to see my core values and beliefs echoed in two worlds that I exist in. I haven’t programmed anything since 2003 when I took and HTML class and learned how to make little images move around. It was fun. But I have a little geek in me and I studied linguistics science in my undergrad, which is like reverse programming. I also come from a family of computer programmers, geeks and engineers, so those occupations aren’t a distant reality.

Earthy-wise, I have been digging deep into the worlds of urban gardening and permaculture for a couple years now. I like permaculture because it is a very analytical, full picture approach to gardening and farming. In order to maximize your garden you have to observe and understand the dynamics of the garden system, the inputs, the feedbacks, the responses and the outputs. As I learn more about the OpenSource coding community, their work, their dynamics, their creations, I have seen a lot of parallels with permaculture.

Flowers for example. In a monoculture approach to growing food there is no need for flowers. they are weeds, obstacles, they are in the way. But in a sustainable or better yet, regenerative approach they serve a purpose. They attract pollinators, they fix nitrogen, they feed nematodes, who knows… sometimes you have to wait to find out. The OpenSource community has flowers too. Odd little bits of code designed to do seemingly ‘valueless’ tasks, silly little strings of code written by the creator for nothing but pleasure, game, practice. But these little bits could be integrated into another longer paragraph and in that context they play an important role, and in another context could bring a different edge to the results. Can you see I am loving this jam?

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