Each month, the members of MIT OpenAG and our partner schools around North America grow fresh food in our Food Computers and Food Servers. At the end of a grow cycle, the plants are ready to be harvested, and for us that’s always the best part. This month our harvest was an all day event as we shared our experiences with a National Geographic film crew, the students of Boston Latin School, our friends at the MIT Media Lab, and the kindhearted people of The Daily Table in Dorchester, MA.
The National Geographic crew arrived first thing in the morning as we gathered up the team to begin our harvest day. For our first stop, we made our way across the city to Boston Latin School to assist in their final harvest before the holidays. There, two students have taken on the Food Computer as their senior class project, and they were happy to have completed their second successful grow cycle.
The pair told us about all of their experiences with the Food Computer and shared the data that they have been collecting throughout the semester. Then they pulled the plants and taste tested each one – just to be safe. “Food just tastes better when you grow it yourself,” said one. Despite the bond they shared with the food they’d raised, the students took just a few small samples and donated the rest of their greens. “The whole point is to feed people, right? This should go to people who could really use it,” they said.
When we returned to the Media Lab, it was time for an even larger harvest: the Food Server. It was an all hands on deck affair as we gathered as many OpenAG “friends of the farm” as we could to begin pulling plants and preparing them to be donated to The Daily Table, in Dorchester, MA. After about an hour, we had collected several trays full of lettuce, basil, herbs, peppers, broccoli, and more. We filled up the cars with the food from Boston Latin and the Media Lab Food Server and hit the road again.
Our final stop of the harvest day was the Daily Table Grocery. Founded by Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s, this not-for-profit retail store refuses to let good food go to waste. They offer the community a wide variety of delicious, healthy foods at more affordable prices than traditional grocery stores. The staff was all smiles as they guided us through the store and into the kitchen, where they would wash up our donated veggies and prepare them for sale.
It didn’t take long for the cart to roll out filled with an array of fresh green foods, and for the customers to hone in on the new arrival. We stuck around to watch a few customers fill up their bags with some of the freshest local veggies on the market, knowing that they would soon bring them home to feed their families. It’s amazing to think that our own veggies went from CITYFarm to Daily Table in just a few short hours.
This was the kind of day that makes us hopeful that Food Computers will become the way of the future, and that they will be used to feed people fresh, locally grown, healthy food options, no matter the season.
We are thankful for our participating schools, National Geographic, all of our sponsors, and The Daily Table for helping us on our mission to create future food systems.