[Video] Centerfarming: Building a personal food computer

“The 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.“

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.


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 🤓👨‍🌾 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 :)