At the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture (“OpenAg”) Initiative we are on a mission to bring out the farmer in everyone by creating healthier, more engaging, and more inventive food systems. OpenAg is building collaborative tools and platforms to develop an open-source ecosystem of food technologies that enables and promotes transparency, networked experimentation, education, and local production. By making the science behind modern agriculture more accessible, we hope to break down the barrier of entry and put the power of food production back in the hands of the people.

The OpenAg process begins with the production of controlled environment agriculture systems. These personal food computers are set to provide specific controlled environments that can be modified, manipulated, upgraded, and hacked as users experiment to find the perfect growing recipes for their favorite fresh foods. Users from diverse backgrounds will innovate and optimize in unique ways as they find solutions to each challenge they face. Nutrition and flavor can be maximized, water and energy use can be minimized, and preferences can be customized to suit every individual set of needs.

Our open source platform enables contributors to keep track of their data and discoveries so that the recipes for the local environments they’ve created can be shared around the world. We intend for people to cut out the distance and import climates rather than food. Breaking down geographical limitations and cutting down on transportability requirements will allow local growers to focus on feeding people in their own communities. Even cities can become the perfect growing grounds to produce the kinds of healthy, fresh foods that they will need to support their growing populations.

In building this open network, OpenAg will also create communities in which the smallest scale climate can instantly be translated to make the largest impact. When shared openly, controlled environment agriculture will provide access to fresh, nutritious, and delicious foods, grown locally, anywhere on Earth. One day it may even be used to grow food on other planets! OpenAg is taking root, and together we can make it grow.

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