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Factor E Farm (about)

Factor E Farm (about)



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Published by Evan Schoepke

Factor e Farm is the land-based facility where we put the theory of Open Source Ecology into practice. Agricola sum. We are farmer scientists - working to develop a world class research center for decentralization technologies. Now there's a tool for doing this: open source technology deployed via flexible and digital fabrication. Open engineering is applicable to our technology base- and from that - to providing basic needs. That is a stepping stone to evolution.

Factor e Farm is the land-based facility where we put the theory of Open Source Ecology into practice. Agricola sum. We are farmer scientists - working to develop a world class research center for decentralization technologies. Now there's a tool for doing this: open source technology deployed via flexible and digital fabrication. Open engineering is applicable to our technology base- and from that - to providing basic needs. That is a stepping stone to evolution.

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Published by: Evan Schoepke on Feb 23, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Open Source Ecology
 Factor E Farm in fve minutes
Introducing the Global Village Construction Set
Our aim is the full integrationof small-scale, adaptable man-ufacturing with sustainable ag-riculture to produce the Global Village Construction Set. Withthe Global Village ConstructionSet in hand, people will be ableto survive and thrive with a highquality of life that is not depen-dent on global supply chains,human exploitation, and envi-ronmental degradation. With your help and the collabo-ration of open source develop-ers around the world, we are
rening existing technologies
and techniques into simple,easily replicated, open sourcedesigns with closed, zero-wasteresource cycles. As a groupthese technologies create anecology of production, main-tenance, re-generation, and
recycling whose efciency and
performance exceeds that of commercial products. Our aimis to have the Construction Setprototyped in two years as a
Factor E Farm is in Missouri, North of Kansas City“The best design experi-ences occur when no onecan claim credit for the so-lution— when the solutiongrows and evolves organi-cally out a particular situa-tion, process, and pattern ofcommunication.”—Sim Van der Ryn
completely open source, self-replicating package so that youcan build it yourself.
The key to the Global VillageConstruction Set is the fabrica-tion lab, where we will be ableto cast and machine metal, print3D plastic objects, etch circuits,and construct high-quality equipment whose performanceis competitive with commercialproducts at dramatic cost sav-ings. The fabrication lab willnot just be a world-class micro-factory churning out almostanything imaginable, it will also be completely self-replicating.Fully trained fabricators will beable to use the tools of the fab-rication lab to re-build the en-tire lab at the cost of materials. We will re-make the means of production at the cost of scrapmetal.Designing a shop from theground up to be self replicatingis not a radical concept. Self-replicating tools may soundfantastic, but it is only in thiscurrent stage of industrial capi-talism that the tools in a shopare not regularly used to repli-cate themselves. The oldest andmost basic tool in a machineshop is a lathe, which can beused to make all the other tools(as well as itself). The lathedates back to ancient Egypt,and a journeyman machinist’seducation has traditionally in-cluded the construction of hisown machines in the shop of amaster craftsman. Only sincethe late 20th century has thisnot been the case. Although thefabrication lab will introducenew materials, tools, and tech-niques, it will be a return to tra-dition, not a radical departure.The Global Village Construc-
foundry heated by our Babing-ton burner, and a heavy lathefor turning large metal objects.
To make thin lm plastics for
greenhouses, we will create anopen source plastic extrusionand glazing machine. With thisfabrication lab we can buildfrom scratch, at the cost of ma-terials, the whole lab, and any other technology in the GVCS. All of these technologies ex-ist, but middlemen, R&D costs,company overhead, proprietary technique, and limited demanddrive the cost of equipment way  beyond the only necessary costs-materials and labor. Throughonline collaboration with aglobal pool of talent we can cre-ate easy-to-follow plans thateliminate all the extra costs.Our design technique works likethis: we look at what we need todo, and the tasks that need to be performed to do it. Then wecrib the essential functions off existing machines and combinethem when possible into sim-pler, more easily maintaineddevices. Instead of design forobsolescence, we design for dis-assembly and repair.Right now we have the LifeTrac,a combination tractor and skidloader that achieves a 10x re-duction in price over commer-cial equipment because it is de-signed for lifetime use, not onetime sale, and for easy main-tenance, not planned obsoles-cence.The same design strategy has been applied to a CEB Press, which pumps out high quality compressed earth bricks, andis being applied to a sawmill.Together, these three machinesallow the construction of com-fortable, well insulated build-ings using entirely local materi-als. And we are well on our way to developing a solar steam ar-ray, a small steam engine, and
a biomass burner for easy, ex
fuel power generation.Our quick pace of developmentis sustained by the strength of online collaboration and openplans. We believe that opensource development is dramati-cally superior to traditionalmethods, and not just in soft-
“It is when two differing ar-eas of knowledge are force-fully brought in contatct withone another that... a new sci-ence may come into being.”—Victor Papanek
Our Present, Unsustainable EconomyPost Industrial Economy
source: John Tillman Lyle,
Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development 
LifeTrac, our tractor and skid loaderCompressed Earth Brick (CEB) pressBabington burnerHeavy lathe prototype
tion Set is not about generatingnew technologies, it is about re-
ning existing ones to meet the
needs of users rather than salespeople. The fabrication lab is based around existing projects,such as the Multimachine, acombination CNC (computernumerical control) lathe, drillpress, and milling machine. Forplastic we will have a RepRap, areproducing rapid prototypingmachine that can fabricate plas-tic parts from CAD drawings. We will add to this a plasmacutting table for large metal, a300lb per hour metal casting
materials and labor, linking ourusers to us and breaking thestandard “consumer” and “pro-ducer” dichotomy.This vision inspires us, but youdon’t need to take our word forit. In the near term, our suc-cess will not be measured in ourabundance of intangibles suchas happiness and self-worth. We are making real productsthat can compete in the marketand we will capture market share because our products are a good value. Our project is not just adream, it is a practical plan foran alternative economic modelthat can and will compete.To demonstrate and developthis new system, we are scalingup, adding collaborators on-siteand online, and receiving dona-tions from our community.
 While our methods will beopen, our resource cycles will be
“Not seeing the real faceof industrial technology isamong the factors that makeit possible to ignore its pres-ence until its effects becomeoverwhelming.”—John Tillman Lyle
 ware. Open source is already proving itself in the commercialcomputer hardware world withproducts such as Arduino andMechMate. Instead of workingin obscurity, our plans receivethe feedback of experts and in-terested amateurs as they hap-pen. As a result we make fewermistakes, and recover quickly from the ones we do make.But openness is more than justa process for us, we believe inopenness as an ideology of trans-formation. Imagine the knowl-edge necessary for sustainingadvanced civilization availableto everyone, not just a limitedtechnical elite. An Open SourceEcology integrating computers,communications, energy pro-duction, fabrication, and foodproduction will lead to greater
self-sufciency and improved
quality of life. A community incontrol of its manufacturing andfood production will be resilientin the face of our increasingly uncertain global system. As our designs come together, we are tooling up for commu-nity supported manufacturing, where people collaborate tofund our facility, and we repay them by selling at the cost of closed. Organic matter andnutrients will be in completecycles, enriching our soil rath-er than mining it. This meansintegrating wild animals, tra-ditional animal husbandry, pe-rennial crops, tree crops, andraised bed gardening. Whiledocumenting our progress, we will also be building a gene bank of regionally appropriateplants, animals, and fungi. Weare busy planting a permacul-ture forest garden, where thetrees and bushes will producenuts, berries, tubers, and otheredibles, as well as forage for ouranimals, all in a self-sustainingforest ecology.This summer we will conducta combined agriculture/aqua-
culture experiment using sh,
chickens, and raised vegetable beds in a system designed af-ter the Mexico Basin Chinampasystem. Originally created tofeed the 250,000 residents of Tenochtitlán (modern day Mex-ico City). Chinampa is one of theoldest integrative agriculturetechniques in the world. Fertileagricultural runoff (in our casefrom chickens) is directed intoponds, triggering algal blooms
that feed sh, whose waste in
Soybean feld that became Factor E Farm
Volunteers building up the farm

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