[personal profile] alexbayleaf

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

A roundup of what’s interesting in the world of Growstuff (and growing stuff), over the last week.

Two new crops for the Growstuff’s crop database, suggested by danielneis in Brazil: jabuticaba (Plinia cauliflora), and pitanga aka Brazilian cherry (Eugenia uniflora).

jabuticaba tree with fruit growing out of the trunk

Jabuticaba is one seriously funky looking fruit tree! CC-BY-SA Bruno.karklis

Tomorrow (Sunday 25th), the Melbourne Growstuff crew are heading out to Victoria’s goldfields for Hackstuff in Ballarat — a morning of visiting veggie gardens for research and then, in the afternoon, hacking on Growstuff to improve the website for everyone.

Over on Growstuff Talk, our developers are discussing Javascript frameworks to improve Growstuff’s user interface. Over on Github, Shiho’s working on a new improved crop search and Miles has been getting our code to deploy automatically to Heroku from Travis-CI.

Did you miss…

Last week we posted release notes for a bunch of new website features, as well as this post about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and open source volunteering.

More from around the web

  • How reducing food waste could ease climate change (National Geographic): “When it comes to looking for ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions, food wastage is a relatively easy fix—the low-hanging fruit, so to speak—and it is literally rotting on our tables.”
  • Will that trip to Havana you’re planning ruin Cuba’s organic farming system? (Takepart): “By the mid-1990s, the government had set out to become agriculturally self-sufficient and therefore combated rapid urbanization by studying and applying cutting-edge, high-yield organic agriculture principles. Today, the system—including the organopónicos—is studied and revered by sustainable food practitioners and proponents.”
  • Latest climate change battle may center on food pyramid (L.A. Times): “A revamp of the food pyramid to take climate into account would be a bold step. Despite a major push by the United Nations for countries to rework dietary policies with an eye on climate impact, none has. The Netherlands is expected to be the first when it releases a new chart illustrating food guidelines this year.”
  • Open data is finally making a dent in cities (Fast Company Exist): “Throughout the country, we are seeing data driven sites and apps like this that engage citizens, enhance services, and provide a rich understanding of government operations In Austin, a grassroots movement has formed with advocacy organization Open Austin. Through hackathons and other opportunities, citizens are getting involved, services are improving, and businesses are being built.”
  • Underground and on rooftops, farms take root in big cities (Christian Science Monitor): “On a cold and rainy Friday afternoon, Steven Dring is tending his baby carrots in a somewhat unusual setting. The green shoots are in a tray of volcanic glass crystals under LED lights – and the tray is in a tunnel 33 meters (108 feet) underneath a busy London street.”
  • 8 ways to get developers to start using your data (Forum One): “Keep in mind that opening up your data is an important first step, but you can add even more value by implementing a concerted strategy to engage with developers. It’s not easy work, but it is definitely worth the effort.”

We’re looking for a volunteer to regularly curate “This week in Growstuff”. Check out the job description and drop us a line if you’re interested!

[personal profile] alexbayleaf

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

Hey everyone! I’m very excited to have just launched our first crowdfunding campaign.

Check out this video, where I talk about the importance of open data for food growers:

We’re raising money for an intensive project around our API (Application Programming Interface), to help more people use Growstuff’s data for more purposes. We’re going to focus on improving our technology platform, building demos and examples, and helping developers and researchers use Growstuff’s data to build apps, study growing trends, and more.

Here are just a few examples of the things that are possible using Growstuff’s open data:

  • A harvest calculator to show you how much money you save by growing food
  • A plugin that automatically posts your garden activity to your blog
  • Emailed planting tips and reminders based on your location and climate
  • A map showing how food-growing patterns change over time in a region
  • A website combining Growstuff’s data with other sources of information, such as nutritional or climate data
  • Data visualisations and infographics about growing patterns
  • Web apps, mobile apps, apps embedded in specialised hardware gadgets — anything is possible

We need to raise $20,000! Please help by contributing to the campaign over on IndieGogo. Perks include awesome Growstuff schwag, workshops, and other great stuff.

[personal profile] alexbayleaf

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

How much food can you produce in a home garden? How efficient is small-scale food production compared to mainstream farming? Can you live off what you grow in an ordinary suburban block?

permaculture melbourne logo I’m very excited to announce that Growstuff is going to be collaborating with Permaculture Melbourne on a project to study how productive home food gardens can be. It’s called the Harvest Benchmarking Project, and Permaculture Melbourne have received a grant from Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to do it. At first they were asking gardeners to use pencil and paper to track their harvests, but with Growstuff’s help, they’ll be able to gather data online, not just from their members locally, but from Growstuff’s members worldwide.

“We want to find what the best gardeners can produce on their plots of land,” says John McKenzie from Permaculture Melbourne. “This becomes a benchmark for their area. The benchmarking project is hoping to indicate the power of urban gardening. If 20% of households could grow at the benchmark rate, then how much food could an urban community produce? We think it’s a huge amount. We think there’s an urban food production industry waiting to be recognised.”

A teenage boy weighs a basket of greens

Weighing harvested vegetables using a digital luggage scale.

Growstuff’s work on this project will be partly funded from Permaculture Melbourne’s grant, but we’re also fundraising from our wider community to support it. If you’d like to contribute $10 or more, join Growstuff then buy a paid membership quoting the code HARVEST2013 when you checkout. We are hoping to raise $1500 or more, which will help keep Growstuff running and make free, Creative Commons licensed harvest data available long-term.

Growstuff folks might recall that harvests were already listed on our roadmap for 2013. From our point of view, what this project means is that we’ll move harvests to the top of the list, and that we’ll have a real use case to focus on, which will help us understand exactly what to build.

For the next month or so, we’ll be working alongside Permaculture Melbourne to build the following features into Growstuff:

  • The ability to record harvests through a simple web form, much as you can already track what you’ve planted on Growstuff.
  • In addition to tracking your harvest of any of the almost 300 crops in our crop database, you’ll also be able to track “other” crops that aren’t yet available on our systems (this will also be applied tracking what you plant).
  • Harvests will be shown alongside plantings on the site, for instance on our crop pages.
  • Tracking the size of your garden (in square metres or feet) to help calculate productivity.
  • You’ll be able to download a CSV data dump of all harvests across the site (you can open this in Excel or the spreadsheet app of your choice).
  • Harvest data will also be available via our API and RSS feeds.

We expect that you’ll be able to sign in and track your harvests in a matter of weeks. To be notified when it’s ready, sign up for Growstuff or follow us on Twitter.

All our code is open source and of course is available on Github, or if you’d like to see how it’s all proceeding, search for “label:harvest-benchmarks” on our task tracker.

For more information, contact Alex/Growstuff at skud@growstuff.org or John McKenzie/Permaculture Melbourne at research@permaculturemelbourne.org.au.

And remember, to support this project, Buy a Growstuff membership using referral code HARVEST2013.

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