OpenAg: Building a Personal Food Computer
MIT Media Lab’s Open Agriculture, or OpenAg, Initiative, an open-source agricultural research lab founded and directed by Caleb Harper. Harper decries that the current food system is riddled with “an endless loop of proprietary practices, restricted information, and a competitive, capitalistic mindset.” OpenAg sees the solution to these and other problems of high food miles, climate change, growing urbanization, and a reducing number of food producers worldwide to be found in an open-source, networked, and computerized agricultural system. And this, as Harper sees it, is the future of food.
The OpenAg™ Personal Food Computer is a tabletop-sized, controlled environment agriculture technology platform that uses robotic systems to control and monitor climate, energy, and plant growth inside of a specialized growing chamber. Climate variables such as carbon dioxide, air temperature, humidity, dissolved oxygen, potential hydrogen, electrical conductivity, and root-zone temperature are among the many conditions that can be controlled and monitored within the growing chamber to yield various phenotypic expressions in the plants.