2014 beijing design week

recently the refarm group of barcelona was invited to participate on the beijing design week by the barcelona 2014 BJDW guest city program. we are going to make a showcase of our tools for urban farmers and make several DIY and DIT workshops.

the idea is to implement, on an existing house, the cicles of nutrients, water and energy along with farm structures and electronic tools that allow in-house food production. three of our members (hernani, emilson and guilherme, will fly from 15 september to 5 of octuber.

stay tunned, next week we’ll open a call for colaborators to help us on the building process of this exhibition.

more news soon, but if you are on the area please join us, we need you ;)

集市 / Country Fair

today we (the brand new re:farm beijing group) meet at the 3rd beijing farmers market organized by the Country Fair Team. quite an experience for me since the barrier of the language makes so hard to have a fluid talk. luckily vivian was there and help me (tks vivian;)

despise the great food and strange vegetables my interest on this farmers market is (as always) how can improve re:farm tools to address farmers and consumers concerns. the bridge between food and people is huge and I really think that re:farm tools are here to make this distance shorter and the journey of food to our table a pleasant walk.

the problems that farmers and consumers have in beijing are more or less common to other cities:

on the consumers side we have: the concerning about food safety, the price, the availability of vegetables and the almost inexistent relation with nature.

on the producers side we have: geographic and seasons constrains, sustainability technical support, seeds, connecting with the consumer, transportation, money to begin a season, pests and soil quality.

one of the best systems that I’ve been leaning about since I’ve started this project are the csa systems but there are no hardware or software tools for them. that’s why we are here and we are fully committed to build them ;)

day#5 at TASML

I’m a bit tired now.. been debugging all night and this is still not working..

but, let’s go by parts:

physically the farms are ready to receive our plants. we have chosen 2 chinese dishes from the gigantic asian gastronomy.

the scarecrow looks amazing and all the sensors are in their position.

the bad news comes from the electronics. I’ve found some errors. they are my errors and the pcb factory didn’t saw them also. see the pink lines?

I didn’t saw them… they represent unrouted connections. not a big deal but I had to make some jumpers

dirty job I know. but if only this works I’ll be happy. but it’s still not working and I don’t have a F.. idea what’s wrong.. need more equipment and a electronic engineer ASAP. tian li says that he has a friend that could help us. let’s give this and myself a couple days of rest.

so.. it seems that today is not the last day of this workshop :) more news soon.

day#4 at TASML

building electronics.

everyone made soldering today. we have prepared 2 boards and now comes the hard part: debugging :)

we have also made the watering system for the 2 farms. we didn’t bought tube since we found a big ethernet cable. we are gonna use the wires to connect sensors and the water pumps to the board. we used the external tube to make the watering system. recycling and low budget are our guidelines ;)

we have finished earlier today and we were able to wire one board and made one quick test. but it’s not working.. it never works at the first shot :p I’ll take this home to see if I can see what the problem(s) is. tomorrow is the last day of the workshop.

day#3 at TASML

building farms,

building the scarecrow,

and get soil.

this soil came by the hands of michael and emi (remember the little donkey farm?) yep beijing is a huge city but as always great minds think alike :p and on my 2nd day in beijing I’ve meet emi, michael and elaine from homeshop. emi as been organizing the Beijing Farmers Market. next sunday it’s the 3rd edition, luckily I’m here :)

back to the workshop, tomorrow we start the electronics :D I’m really eager to build this board, not that they are very different from the previous versions but I’ve rearranged the position of all components and now we have a more integrated board.

I’ve added a ICSP connector so no more taking the chip to burn a new bootloader and I’ve also add a connector socket to booth boards, the on vacations and on the sofa so it could be easier to send code to the Atmega without having the xbees and last but not the least the voltage regulators and the tip120 are now flattened and not so exposed to breaking during the manipulation.

day#2 at TASML

in the morning we went to buy some electronics. amazing place this zhongfa market :p

then we spend the day knowing each other, sharing knowledge, speaking about everything green related, building the farms and getting some more materials

we even started a mini composter, a fundamental piece on the urban farm scenario. what would be of us if the worms didn’t give us a hand (or a bite:) on closing the cycle ??

day#1 at TASML

this is always one of the funniest days of the workshops :) the day we scavenge for materials on the surroundings. after spending the morning presenting re:farm and all the sciences involved we went deep in the eco-design principles and question everything that we fond if it could be edible for our farms or not. check out our flickr account. we were very lucky.. despise the general skepticism and the low temperatures (-6ºC) we fond great materials :) check out this baskets

made of bamboo, clean, no paints or strange stuff attached. normally used to throw trash!!

now that we have our farm container (organic and breathable) we still need more stuff.

we need to build a scarecrow, find water pumps, tube, chopsticks, a water reservoir and good soil.

see you tomorrow ;)

flying beijing

ops!! here I am pumping my ecological footprint over mongolia ;(

in 2 days I’ll start the re:farm workshop at Tsinghua University Art and Science Research Center Media Laboratory. the workshop is fully booked but if you are around beijing feel free to come, there is always room for one more at the table ;)

preparing beijing

next january I’ll fly to beijing to give a refarm workshop at tsinghua university. every time we make a new workshop in a new city we make new boards and research that’s place gastronomy, vegetables and the state of urban farming. beijing has a lot to share with us. you can imagine their giant edible biodiversity and since you are here, check also this steep on beijing sustainability. looking forward the meet tsinghua students and let my belly be guided by them :)