[Video] Centerfarming: Building a personal food computer

β€œThe world is on a mission to create healthier, more engaging, and more efficient future food systems. We believe the precursor to a healthier and more sustainable food system will be the creation of an open-source ecosystem of technologies that enable and promote transparency, networked experimentation, education, and hyper-local production.β€œ


That was the description I read, when I signed up for this elective last semester. As a student at the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM), I participated last semester in a course called Center Farming. The main idea was to build a fully functioning food computer designed by the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture Initiative. A personal food computer is basically is a tabletop-sized, controlled environment agriculture technology platform that uses robotic systems to control and monitor climate, energy, and plant growth inside of a specialized growing chamber. Climate variables such as carbon dioxide, air temperature, humidity, dissolved oxygen, potential hydrogen, electrical conductivity, and root-zone temperature are among the many conditions that can be controlled and monitored within the growing chamber to yield various phenotypic expressions in the plants.

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This course redefined for me the notion of being "hands-on" at university. Over the course of the last semester, 14 students and 2 center assistants got their hands really dirty and dove into assembling, screwing, programming and soldering. As I’m really not a hardware guy this was a great learning of connecting wires to circuit boards. Even though it was tough, challenging and time consuming it was great fun. The video above is a video I compiled of our journey as nerd farmers πŸ€“πŸ‘¨β€πŸŒΎ have a look at it!

Also have a look at our blog post at the CDTM homepage about this elective, which will give you some further impressions on how the course was set up and what we did :)