Farm Journal

Open Source Ag logo with an illustration of red, brown, yellow, and green seeds in the air and a semi circle of slices under of the same color.

March Weather

March rains and wild winds were an odd mix of beneficial and nerve-wracking. In the first week of April, I’ve decided to pause workshops and focus on getting as much planted for the food pantries as possible since we have jumped from fall to summer without much of a spring. The water saturation is terrific, and the broad bean, peas, and vetch cover crop mix held the terraces well. The image shows where the weed eater cuts are faster than our hand-weeding attempts. We also see the differences between our waist-high weeds at the front gate and others’ ankle-high weeds since we don’t spray any chemicals/emergents. We are at the point of laughing at our weeding careers. I hope we deliver half the food of our original plan, and it will be fun trying to bring in more.

February Leap

A lot happened in February!

  • Bare root trees planted on the terraces
  • Olive trees at the front fence line
  • Berries and table grapes on the north side of the driveway
  • A wind break at the outdoor classroom
  • Two workshops on soil testing through sowing
  • And big news – we were awarded a California Department of Food and Agriculture and Environmental Stewardship, dairy, climate, research grant in their Conservation Agriculture Planning Grants Program
  • And the Upper Salinas – Las Tablas Resource Conservation District awarded us consulting and guidance in their Sustainable Land Initiative program

Finally there!

January 2023. The start of our first grow-to-donate production year. The start of the fifth year as a nonprofit; challenges building in the pandemic, once a daily event, are bygones. Blaze and her Elationscapes team have most of the irrigation in for the year, Kelly is building beds, Curt is weeding, and supplies are organized. Workshops started in January and we look forward to seeing both successes and lessons learned this planting season.

Santa Maria Urban Ministry Food Pantry

December 2022. A tour of the Santa Maria Urban Ministry pantry informed the types of fresh food offered to their 100-130 families fed daily.

Workshop RSVPs

November 2022. The top navigation menu now links to upcoming Workshops at Open Source Ag. Please select to view dates, topics, and to RSVP. I hope to see you soon. Thanks, Kelly

Cut Flowers

October 2022. I decided to expand cut flowers as part of the grow-to-donate collective. Flowers remind people who may feel disappointed, embarrassed, or even shame when they can’t provide food for their family, that there is hope. We all deserve fresh, good food and even flowers. My hope is food and flowers both provide sustenance. One for physical strength and one for resilience – to counteract difficult moments.

If you know of people struggling who will feel a wave of possibility with flowers or food, let’s talk. Email me at Thanks, Kelly

USDA People’s Garden

September 2022. Open Source Ag is now a USDA People’s Garden. We look forward to an active Spring season!

Workshops begin in January

Steps from the parking area to the outdoor classroom

The outdoor classroom is nearly finished 🙂

Central area of outdoor classroom
Midway through outdoor classroom project!

High School Interns Regenerative Packaging Design

August 2022. In August, 20 high school interns created packaging for Open Source Ag’s reverse CSA, which we will use to send seeds, instructions, and ideas for grow-to-donate experiments in communities nation wide. Regina Kloes-Corwin, as a lead mentor for the Bayha Group and Downey Unified School District, led the 5-week intern projects.

The video below shows the student showcase presentation.

Nonprofit as a DAO Case Study?

August 2022. For the past four years, I consider DAOs as people organizations as much as a philosophy or methodology. Skipping theory and articles for a few minutes, let’s agree that decentralization begets decentralization. Why advocate for decentralized governance or product/service offerings from within a centralized organization?

Open Source Ag is a 501(c)(3) small grow-to-donate farm and IoT lab. Nonprofits serve as an intriguing DAO case study. Open Source Ag’s purpose aligns with the intent of a DAO and serves as a counterpoint to intervening egos that may accompany startups under deliverables pressures.

Open Source Ag engages others to grow to donate or offer garden abundance beyond families’ needs to food pantries and food bank organizations. The nonprofit plans to grow food, offer events/classes for participants to learn to ecofarm grow and donate, and create a social environment where food is produced and celebrated.

How is Open Source Ag a DAO? Let’s talk tokens.

NFTs represent DAO shares for collaborative contributions. Contributors value contributions based on the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Examples may include:

  • Participation in events
  • Pounds of food donated
  • Organizational roles
  • Outreach efforts
  • Networking with food pantries and food banks

Motivation may include:

  • DAO shares (NFTs)
  • Governance contributions
  • Participatory management
  • Events opportunities
  • Operations advising

One quick side note, employee-owned organizations (ESOP) offer some connections to lessons learned.

Community and shared governance are expected and appreciated in a decentralized autonomous nonprofit organization; opinions, good intentions, conflict, and unique contributions run parallel with operations. Yet, 501(c)(3) nonprofits are corporations with bylaws and compliance considerations. At Open Source Ag, we are developing levels of DAO shares, as NFTs, to encourage engagement and commitment and identify how intrinsic and extrinsic motivation shift nonprofits from a fundraising model to a social good network effect. We are interested in your perspectives.

Community Farm Strives for Engagement, Inspiration Through Open Source Ag

July 2022. Open Source Ag’s farm east of Paso Robles is taking root this summer through land planning, planting, and tech integration, combined with community programs, to inspire Californians to grow to donate.

Diverse collaborators partnered to support Open Source Ag, launching a new chapter in ecologically based farming for good in support of the non-profit startup. Central Coast sustainable land management firm Elationscapes, led by owner and project manager Blaze Elation, shared a design plan for the acreage; farm photography by Frank Anzalone captured project origins; product and innovation manager Nicky Hickman guided development of mission and vision, and value statements; friends at the open tech-focused, not-for-profit Linux Foundation are ideating ways to integrate technology into farm design; and Regina Kloes-Corwin is leading summer internships for high school students to create sustainable and regenerative design and cultivate greater reach in implementing the team’s mission of community engagement.

Several projects are afoot on the San Miguel farm, including plans for early fall fruit tree planting, installation of 5 or 6 hoop houses—sheltered solar greenhouses—and a deep hole cut into the land that will serve as a seed container and fruit cellar, and potentially a mushroom-growing space. Partners are completing an outdoor meeting space on the farm for classes and gatherings, and a calendar of events through the fall is underway. The project embeds tech in its operations, with connectivity efficiencies through Internet of Things (IoT) to minimize water usage and establish replicable systems, including developing affordable IoT and blockchain solutions for small farms.

The group is implementing a two-pronged approach of local community collaboration and participation and non-local opportunities that will take place virtually to build excitement about Open Source Ag. Part of the team’s vision is to feed 500 people, including seniors and families with children, per year within the next five years, and to embed practices that replenish natural resources and contribute to healthy soil, such as planting cover crops.   

Workshops and other upcoming activities will cover how-to and community maps for distributing fresh produce, quick composting tips, food preservation for longevity, and lively events focused on growing, harvesting, and enjoying food. A sustainable “farm lab” environment aligns with the work of the rising 12th-grade student interns, who will spend several weeks with mentor Kloes-Corwin designing packaging for Open Source Ag to grow knowledge across communities. Local residents may sign up to receive seeds, support and growing instructions conducive to promoting a bountiful harvest in a backyard garden, single container, or more expansive spaces.

Open Source Ag strives to sow enthusiasm for fresh local fare, says project lead Kelly Cooper. “We envision that next year we will go beyond proof of concept to set up a small, viable organization that allows us to build relationships, experiment with sustainable farming, and collaborate to build a social organization where our mission, vision and values thrive,” she says.

Grow-to-Donate Operation Launching to Provide Sustenance, Celebrate Healthy Fare

January 2022. In San Miguel, California, where rolling hills and gracious oaks meet vineyards, small-batch hobby farms and wineries, the non-profit startup Open Source Ag is plotting a grow-to-donate operation aiming to foster a local interest in food for good. 

Open Source Ag establishes new collaborations to farm fertile acres in celebration of fresh fare, bonding in a “MICHELIN-star” effort of community food for all. The project, making its home on 10 acres along the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail east of Paso Robles, will harvest row crops, berries, peppers, herbs, nuts, honey, and more—all organically produced—to be donated across communities.

Planting begins in early 2022 with a vision to feed 500 people, including seniors and families with children, over the next five years. The effort mirrors other collaborative endeavors by 2 Degree Shift to bring resources to more Californians and build equity. The focus is on a celebration of locally-produced food and wine, and coming together for casual, open air dining, all while uniting community members to provide for others. Anchored in San Luis Obispo (SLO) County and tied to the greater Central Coast and Central Valley regions, Open Source Ag leverages agri-tech and innovation as cornerstones of local industry, and integral economic drivers regionally. 

Open Source Ag is conceived to be sustainable and tech-forward, using established connectivity efficiencies with Internet of Things projects to minimize water usage and establish replicable, open-source systems. The project harnesses growers’ passion for healthful, flavorful ingredients in striving to help fill the gap between the longer shelf-life foods often distributed through food banks and the potential for a greater variety of fresh, organically grown foods available for all. Using a quasi-production, small scale model at the onset, Open Source Ag savors fresh produce in the varied textures, colors, and flavors that mingle with a distinctively West Coast herbal bouquet. The quintessentially Californian Open Source Ag will produce high-quality, sustainable fare cultivated with joy.