OHS open hardware submit

here is the project that we submit to OHS. if approved max will present it and mojitos will be served ;)


artwork: andré

aka mojitos/gazpacho/location on wheels is an open hardware tool that has been designed to improve the fundraising of refarm groups worldwide.

Combining a cc-share-alike license, city trash and all the instructions to built one, this farm has funded our activities in 4 cities on the last 2 summers.

This farm is built with scrap materials found locally at every city and has an automatic watering system made with components from cars and washing ma chines. It is controlled by our free board, the refarm nano vacations V2.

It is a farm prepared to hit the road, go to a party, an opening, the beach or be used as a platform to give mini workshops about urban farming. The Mojito Farm concept was born at Eyebeam, NYC, and has been further developed in São Paulo, Vienna, Tarragona and Paris.

project – bulb jar!

Yesterday I went to Maker’s Faire with Jon and saw a lot of cool ideas and products by today’s makers.  At the Boswyck Farmbooth, I made a container out of a 2-litre bottle that waters the plant from the bottom-up.  It got me thinking…

Using only a couple tools and empty jam jars, I made 4 prototypes of bulbjars.  For the seed, I used birdseed* from the store or radish seeds.  The control is on the right; filled 1/4 full of rye grass. Next is 3/4 full of rye grass. Next is 2/3 full with rye grass and ~50% perilite in the soil. The far right one is 2 radish seeds.  You can kind-of see in the pictures that there are tubes coming out of the tops.  Once I know these containers are hospitable, I would like to try this experiment submerged in water with just the end of the hose in the air.
I bought the hoses new, but the rest was just lying around :)
* I am interested in making bird seed mixes of vegetable species that provide full nutrition to the user.  If a person can plant 5 servings of birdseed in their yard that gives them a balanced diet, it would be healthy and easy to sync with re:farm vacation boards…

back home

after 3 months in ny is time to go home and prepare for the winter.

in ny I meet people very committed with finding a sustainable path and I’ve found a city were organic is trendy :) but also great work was done in this project. check out the posts of basak, andrew and the collective farms of andes and old stone house. we also had some hardware planned that didn’t came out: the new boards refarm on eyes, batteries on and refarm with sun. the programmers to develop the software tools didn’t show up to our open call at eyebeam so we have some tools that still don’t saw their daylight. like this “what to seed tool”

the truth is that my objective of making this tool universal has become obviously insane by the amount of datasets, their different protocols, availability and of course by the characteristics of our planet and your reality. for example, to determine if a vegetable is suitable for you, I must know you, your local conditions, weather, climate, seeds available, and were do you find all this resources near you. then connect this to your physical conditions, your dietary choices, plant characteristics, their life cycle and your budget ;)

so we need to changed the strategy and focus in one small set and then adapt step by step to other cities.

the winter is perfect for this kind of job were 90% is research and the other 10% is fun :)

stay in touch and if you by casuality are in madrid 4th-5th november, I’ll be a speaker at ‘Prototyping Cultures‘ at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

potatoes box

hi :) this is a prototype of a potato box to grow potatoes in the city.

this idea came from an invitation from derek to the eyebeam residents to participate in Farm City: Where Are You Growing? A Celebration of Urban Agriculture!

Derek Denckla, editor of thegreenest.netand founder of FarmCity.US, has curated a three weekend program series for the French Institute Alliance Francais (FI:AFCrossing the Line Festival.

Over three weekends, Farm City celebrates Urban Agriculture and explores the possibilities of a new agrarian future within the current urban reality.

for now here is some pictures from the concept to the farm. during the next months we will be adding rings with soil leading the plants to a constant reach for light and you can see here how the farm is doing by visualizing her temperature, light exposure and moisture from the 4 sensors. this farm is going to produce potatoes for the new’s year dinner :)

andes composter

with a structure inspired by nature the idea was to make a huge composter or aka the worm palace:)

build with local harvested materials and equiped with a refarm on vacations board with 4 sensors of temperature (3 inside, 1 out side) connected to the house by radio and uploading data to our servers.

this has a community build project by the refarm group ny  and all the andes sprout society has participate :) 6 days of very relaxing labor lead to this

now we just need to wire this and start to get data in the server.

the nycR re:farm group will go upstate this weekend again, we will have a worm party and , you are more than welcomed to come, just bring some food to the worms ;)

human seeds

a new re:farm group has just started :D

after a workshop of 2 weekends, one in brooklyn

and another at andes

this new group of new friends will now meet every week at the nycResistor. follow their official blog or if you live in ny you are more than welcome to join the team.

thank you all to participate on the workshop and tks nycR to give a home to our project ;)

waste or food

by traveling from city to city I find different sources of the stuff I need, different ways to get to them and big differences on how its each city manage the inputs and outputs of resources. one of the outputs that we have been very concerned here on re:farm is the organic material that a city produce and it’s mostly wasted in big cities. more than wasted, is being mixed with paper, plastics or glass making the “eventualy” recycling process even more painfully. all the organic material produced by our kitchen, restaurants, markets and their super relatives are the raw material for your first step into farming.

you need to get good soil and cheap and this is very easy and simple: our organic waste is food for worms and their waste is food for our vegetables. with this in mind we are gonna setup this new mega composter at Andes and monitor the life of the worms and friends.

the winter is coming so we don’t expect a big grow in the worms population. as everything in nature this will take time. we will follow the live of this object and also see how the materials applied evolve. I’ve design a house for worms with places for them to rest, feed and live. a hexagonal frame?! why not? inspired by nature and a link to the global ecological disaster that is happen right now in the bees superfamily and with their unique position in our live cycle. hard days for our vegetables and belies will come without the bees ;( follow the evolution of this project on this dedicated page

About temperature sensors

I’ve been experimenting with and reading up on the LM35 temperature sensor, used by the On Vacations board. The output pin of the sensor connects directly to an analog input on the Arduino, and after reading the value of the pin, the temperature (in Celcius) is calculated with this formula:

temperature = 5 * (analog value from sensor) * 100 / 1024

However, I found that the temperature values fluctuated by 1 or 2 degrees for every reading (taken once a second).  To stabilize the readings, I tried to average the readings in various ways, such as by taking several successive readings and then averaging the values, or by keeping an average of the last 10 readings (over the last 10 seconds).  The results were quite similar in each case, the temperature reading was notably more stable, but when it did fluctuate, it was still by a degree or two.

In reading about taking better readings from these sensors, I came across lots of info about some general downfalls with Arduino’s analog readings.  There are two particularly relevant posts on the Adafruit forum here and here, regarding multiple analog readings from different pins.  The solution seems to be the inclusion of a short delay (10ms) after each reading.

Adafruit also has a nice tutorial on temperature measurement, and it sounds like the LM36 might be a better choice for use with the On Vactions boards — depending where a farm/garden is located — since it can measure sub-zero temperatures without a negative power supply.

I also came across a library directed to improving Arduino’s analog functions.  I’m looking forward to experimenting with this.


Web development process

The first thing I started to do when i joined the group was to improve the blog both visually and functionally. (because we all know that the default kubrick theme is really ugly and the web usability is in the minimum level!:))
So i started out with some sketches and tried to create an identity with the logo, background and some other elements of the blog. After long discussions and brainstorming with Hernani, we wanted to keep it really simple and clear for everyone but also emphasize the sustainability and urban farming perspective of the project visually.

Here are some first sketches.

And this is the last version of how we decided to develop the blog.

“What to seed” app

After designing the seed boxes and connecting with seed banks that can help us to provide the seeds (by the way we managed to get thumbs up from Hudson Valley Seed library to be our provider soon), i went ahead and started to put some information together in a processing application that will help users to decide what to seed, how to seed and where and when to seed extra. At this point, the climate zones were very essential criteria for seeding and Maria from Barcelona group helped us out to shape the climate information to put in the application.

Here are some shots of the processing app.

Since refarm is expanding in Europe and the States, I added the language options in the interface. In addition Hernani and I did some brainstorming about what information would be needed and what criterias and variables would be added to the interface. The dimensions of the farm, the location of the farm, soil types options and etc.. were the first variables we thought that would affect the whole seeding process.

Another great feature of this one was also demonstrating “the friends and enemies” of that specific seed that the user decide to grow in his/her farm. So I added two submissions on the interface, one surrounding the main seed with friend seeds that can be added to the farm and can cultivate the farm with its nutrients and stuff and the other one surrounding this circle with enemy seeds that shouldnt be added to the farm.

However at the end we decided to combine this application with “the big brother” application that manipulates all the farming process.

The LEDs are on the wall

Greetings!  I’m happy to make my introduction here on the Re:Farm blog.  My name is Andrew O’Malley and I’m a Canadian artist/engineer.  My main artistic interests are animated lighting installations and fixtures, and electronic music production and DJ’ing.

[ Eyebeam bio ]

These interests have brought me to NYC for the summer of 2010, where I’ve connected with Hernani’s Re:Farm project through his residency at Eyebeam.

My first objective is to create the PCB (circuit board) for the Re:Farm On The Wall module, a data visualization module using an LED display to present data away from the computer screen.

Here’s Hernani’s original sketch for displaying the soil moisture level from 6 sensors:

This design uses 7 LEDs to display the soil moisture level for each of 6 sensors (42 in all).  The design concept has been formalized as seen below:

The module still has 7 LEDs for each sensor (or farm/garden), but with the addition of LEDs between the groups (for a total of 48) to create a complete circle which can be used with other templates, such as the one below, for visualizing other data such as temperature or humidity:

Ideally, the board will also incorporate a stepper motor to drive a needle (like a speedometer) for an additional data channel.

I’m going to first concentrate on the LED display.  Since the board will make use of an ATMEGA microcontroller (Arduino) chip and an XBee radio (to receive the data), real estate on the approx. 3″ x 3″ board is already a bit tight, so I am currently researching Charlieplexing, an LED driving scheme which allows N*(N-1) LEDs to be directly driven by N pins of the microcontroller.  8 data pins from the microcontroller  can thus be used to control the 48 LEDs since Charlieplexing with 8 pins allows control of up to 8*7=56 LEDs.

At The Next HOPE conference this past weekend, Jimmie P. Rogers was demo’ing and selling his LoL (Lots of LEDs) Shields for the Arduino.  He has a great post about his work with Charlieplexing which I’m currently consulting.  Talk about serendipity!

In a way, the overlap between the needs of Hernani’s project and my own interests in lighting and internet-enabled lighting fixtures is serendipitous as well.

More soon!


20kg max luggage on the airport. I’ve brought 16kg. I assume that I’ll get some extra stuff with me. what I really didn’t want to fly back are books that I have at home. here are some of my books that I already miss ;(

waste from Tristram Stuart

cradle to cradle from William McDonough

biomimicry from Janine M. Benyus

and here are two of them that luckily I also have a pdf version. 1 kg each one

physical computing and make things talk both from tom igoe

this one I was on the reading process so I’ve brought him with me.

so if any of you have this books at home and you live near ny, bring them to eyebeam, let they live with us until 15 september and we will offer you one drink from our mentha-farm ;)



week 3, 4

planning, build team, survive.

first let’s go to the survive in ny. here are the conditions today: Scattered Thunderstorms 31º max, 23º min, Humidity 52%, sunrise 05h00 sunset 20h00. 15h of sun exposure, the plants are happy :) what they are not probably happy with is reflected on my feet. coming from brooklyn by bike at 09h00, 12.1km, all day at eyebeam, freezing (24º inside AC blasting my head) get out 7h later, bike again to brooklyn and my feet arrive with suspicious black stripes.



this diagram has changed a lot in the last days. and it will change again sometime soon :D but I think that from it you can have an idea of what’s going on now and for the next season in terms of development.

refarm timeline 2010|11


2 heavy heights join the team, jon santiago and andrew o’malley :) and we are still looking for 3 more. one programer, one researcher and one agricultural engineer so if you are around and willing to help send me a email newyork{at}refarmthecity{dot}org

materials #8564*?!#!#*?=

last june when we discovered the tennis balls as a low budget solution to divide one input of water to many, maintain the pressure equal on any output and the cherry was that this object, since its made of rubber, the connections are always leak proof. we scream a eureka after the brain storming and went to drink some beers. the day was over and full of glory. apart of being worldwide available, its not always that you find a easy solution for a complex problem of design that can be posted on our wiki and implemented on all the refarm groups. I was very happy with this solution until I came to ny.. last week when we build the menta farm for eyebeam Basak when to get some materials: tequila, sugar, lemon, limes and tennis bals. a few days before I sent a massive email asking for old tennis bals and we got none.. apparently tennis is not so popular on our days.. so basak went to a sports store and got 3 for a dollar:) and then the disaster happen.. after cutting the tennis ball and force the tubes to enter on the holes the rubber started to crack..

no idea why.. the fact that they are new is my guess. maybe the rubber needs some tennis matches before she his ready for our farms. further tests needed on this field. now it’s time to theorise and then make new field tests :)

refarm @ ny week 2

just arrived and we had schedule a public presentation of refarm. it was during the open studios event that occurs in eyebeam every month. the public comes and speaks with the residents, fellows and interns. so we had to make an express farm mainly because we need to have something to talk about :) since talk and drinks are things that go well together the eyebeam farm is a mentha-bar. a farm for teas, mojitos and caipirinhas ;)  we built it mainly from stuff that we’ve found in the neighborhood. and what a nice neighbors we have here at eyebeam. we grab this box from one of the galleries in front of the street.

the guy told me that every week he cuts the boxes and put it out in the street to be collected by the recycling bus.

these are best-world-class-league woods used to mail art. from this you can have a small idea of the ecological impact of transporting stuff. it should worth the trip :) but before they go to recycling (whatever that is depending on the day and the city that you live) we are gonna extend this box life-cycle and make a nice box for our farm.

the scarecrow was laser cutted by our first intern with me here at eyebeam. ladies and gentleman, I present to you Basak Haznedaroglu :)
here with Steve Lambert on the lasercut-express-workshop
basak is a second year MFA design and technology student at Parsons New School for Design here in new york. she will stay with us until september and she has already start farming :)
so this are the news for now. next week more news about our workshop eyebeam<>andes.

refarm @ ny week 1

a classic. 39º of fever and here I go from barcelona to new york.

I arrived without a place to live during this 3 months. for now my friend zach lieberman let me stay some days at his house but it’s not easy to find something decent and cheap in this town..and let me say that both concepts cheap and decent here take another form :p if you know something email ASAP :D

I was very welcomed at eyebeam :) friendly people and amazing conditions for an artist develop his work. here are the laser cutters, under me the 3D printer and the large format printer. there is also a wood workshop and some electronic tools.

and a nice dutch bike :)

next stop was andes sprout society. I went by bus on a 4 hour trip. I arrived and all in the house were waiting for me to start dinner. uau, delicious!!.. it was just what I needed.. good food and great new friends.

andes is upstate new york. from there comes the water that the city drinks and washes herself. is one of those small places on earth where you can see the whole ecosystem in front of your eyes. there are millions of fire flies during the night (a sign of low air pollution) and me and jeni saw a bear. the whole food chain was there including us, humans.

this week is not over yet, tiago, maria, andreas and fransini are all in paris giving the refarm workshop @ mal au pixel festival. let’s wait from news and see some pictures of the first refarms in paris :)