[personal profile] alexbayleaf

Originally published at Growstuff Blog. You can comment here or there.

There’s nothing quite as arbitrary as declaring January 1st to be the start of the year. Those of us who grow food know that the seasons shift and vary: long or short, hot or cold, wet or dry, according to far more complex systems than a number on a calendar.

packets of seeds stored in a partitioned box

Photo by Bek of Bek’s Backyard, used with permission


Still, for our northern hemisphere friends, the Gregorian calendar’s new year does mark a time of planning and dreaming about 2015’s garden. I’m seeing more and more people talking about seed catalogs and what they want to plant when the weather warms up. Here in the temperate southern latitudes, our summer is in full swing, with tomatoes and zucchini the most popular topics of veggie-gardener conversation.

Are you feeling inspired by seed catalogs? Overwhelmed by zucchini? Use Growstuff to track what you’re growing and harvesting this year.

We have big plans for 2015.

We’re building a platform to share free food-growing information, helping people all round the world learn skills, become more self-sufficient, more resilient in the face of environmental and economic challenges, and build healthier families and communities.

In 2015 we want to reach thousands more people, collect planting and harvest data from growers on every continent, offer useful growing advice to new and experienced growers alike, foster a collaborative and sharing community, and build an ecosystem of apps and services based on Growstuff’s data.

You can be a part of it.

There are dozens of ways to get involved. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Research crops to add to our database
  • Run a local Growstuff meetup in your area
  • Test our website’s latest features
  • Help us tell Growstuff’s story and share it with your network
  • Let us know your great ideas for Growstuff’s future

Come join us and help make it happen!

Upcoming Growstuff events

a hand holding a large bowl full of tomatoes, peppers, and peas

A summer harvest of tomatoes and peppers. CC-BY Oakley Originals

As usual our Melbourne coding contingent are having regular get-togethers to build new Growstuff features. You can join us at:

  • Ruby hack night — 2nd Tuesday of the month at Inspire9 in Richmond. The next one will be Tuesday March 10th.
  • Hackstuff — last Sunday of the month. This is usually at Library at the Dock, Docklands, but in January we’ll be visiting Ballarat for some veggie garden tours and a change of scenery.
  • February 4th we will be at Melbourne’s Open Knowledge Workshop at Thoughtworks in the CBD.

We’ve found in-person events to be one of the best ways to meet people who care about good food, open source software, and bringing the two together. If you’d like to hold a local Growstuff event (either a coding session, or a social get together), let us know!

Information about all upcoming events can be found on our Growstuff events page.

What’s new on the tech front

A quick update on some of our recent progress on the tech side:

  • A big change to our process: we’ve moved to Github issues to track features, bugs, and other technical work we want to do. This integrates better with our coding practices, and is easier for new people to participate in, than our previous issue tracker.
  • Taylor has led a fantastic effort to upgrade our software to Rails 4, which will lead on to many future improvements.
  • Yoong, Alex and Miles have been working on social features, including following other members, improvements to posts and discussions, and better notifications. We’ve also been working on some design for private accounts, and figuring out all the implications of that.
  • We have some massive uploads of new crops staged and ready to go, thanks to the folks who attended our London coding weekend, including Juliet, Marion, and Sam.
  • Taylor and Maki made a great start on internationalising our website, to allow it to be translated into other languages.
  • We’re actively working on building version 1 of our API, as a result of the crowdfunding we ran last year. Thanks to Paul for his work on the initial framework for this!
  • Heaps of other features and bugfixes, too many too enumerate here, but a shoutout to our new code contributors Emma, Kevin, Justin, and Wendy all of whom will have code included in our next release.

Thanks everyone for all your work!

If you’d like to keep up with Growstuff between newsletters, check out the Growstuff blog or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

[personal profile] alexbayleaf

Originally published at Growstuff Blog. You can comment here or there.

Meet Andrea, the Goat Lady

Andrea, who goes by GoatLady on Growstuff, took some time out to talk to us about farming, the politics of growing your own food, and some advice for newer growers:

Growing your own food should be joyful. If all you ever want to do is grow some basil in a pot on the window sill, or a boxed mushroom kit in your closet, that’s ok. The important thing is that growing food shouldn’t make you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or inadequate. If it does, then let yourself back off, reassess, and find your joy.

goats

Goats chowing down on a young spaghetti squash. (c) Andrea Chandler

We also talked about the politics of “homesteading” and of growing your own food:

To take control of your own food to the extent you can is an act of taking back power. To then freely share your surplus is another radical act in a capitalist system. It’s also a profound act of caring for another person; sharing food is one of the oldest, most fundamental ways we have of sharing good will.

Read more (and see more pics of Andrea’s adorable goats) on the Growstuff blog.

Support Growstuff for just $10

Growstuff runs on membership subscriptions. This month, we’ve dropped the price of an annual membership to just $10 — and that’s Australian dollars, so we’re talking about $9 US, 7 EUR, less than 6 GBP, or, well, see for yourself. Peanuts!

We’re working on exclusive features for our paid members, which we’ll be rolling out soon. (The first will be the ability to “share a garden” with co-gardeners, such as your family or the other members of a community garden, giving them access to edit and plant things in the garden you share.) If you want to support this, and all the other work Growstuff does, buy a paid account now.

More crops for our crops database

We’ve added a bunch of new crops, including nectarines; the fragrant perilla aka shiso; Australian native midgen berry; red and white currants; perennial, bi-colored Okinawan spinach; and scallions, including the Welsh onion variety that’s most often found in Western markets.

If you’re growing any of these, tell us about it, or list your seeds to share.

These new crops bring our crop database to 292 distinct varieties of edible crop. Got any we’re missing? Request new crops in our support forum.

What else is new?

We’re always improving Growstuff and adding new features. Some of our recent changes include:

  • Our new places page shows where all our members are. It’s a simple use of our location data, but now we’ve got the infrastructure in place, we’ll be able to do other maps showing things like where a crop is grown, what’s growing near you, and more.
  • We’ve also improved our location-based member search, see eg. members near Roanoke, Virginia. We’ve added a map, and you’ll now see which members are closest to this location in order of distance.
  • The geodata used for our places pages has also been added to our API; see the docs for information on what you can access programmatically.
  • We’ve added “bulb” as a propagation method for new plantings.
  • We added a crop hierarchy page, mostly of use to crop wranglers but potentially of interest to our members at large. We will be adding more varieties of crops in the coming weeks.
  • We’ve added helpful text in various spots around the site, including on the new planting page.
  • You can now sign up for this newsletter when you sign up for Growstuff, or via your member settings page.

You can see what we’re working on now at tracker.growstuff.org, and if you’d like to get involved, join our discussion mailing list.

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