Right now, I see my projects is as a new distributed education model that mixes Farming, Technology and Making, in a STEAM learning approach, that now I call Farm Academy. I came into this idea because I feel there is a disconnection between this technologies and small-holder farmers, as you might see some high tech stuff that is not at their skill or monetary level, and also there is people from the cities wanting to learn agriculture and permaculture to grow their own food or leave in the countryside in a sustainable systemic way.
FarmAcademy is a conceptual Academy of agriculture and digital fabrication that aims to improve the rural people’s lives through low cost technology education in a non-colonizer way, applied to local concerns and needs, with methodologies and skills that could be adapted the to the reality of each place. Teaching the scope of some technologies and skills, so that people can start building DIY food production systems that help them be more sustainable and self-sufficient.
This model is not only thought for people in rural villages that is already related to agriculture, but instead is for everyone who wants to learn how to produce their own food in a more climate resilient, sustainable way. Not mattering if it is in an Urban or Rural area, but our main audience would be smallholder farmers since the project aim to improve their way of living.
This educational model shares with the Academy program, that it has three different ways of learning: Instructional, Guided and Autonomous.
- Instructional: When you follow the exact instructions to build something, and learn why it works that way.
- Guided: When you modify the tutorials or instructions to make something different, with a proper guidance.
- Autonomous: When you take all your learnings and want to use them to build something new.
This model is also thought in a distributed way, in which the different parts of the system are in different locations, and the learning process happening in different places, with different tools and different interactions with the society. They do not only learn in the school or academy, but instead they learn and apply their learning in different places so they can socialize it and find a bigger value to it.
- School: In the school or academy, depending of the level, people or kids are going to learn more theoretical and practical stuff. (Ex. Learning the theory of electronics and Arduino).
- Home: People will try to apply some of their learning in a smaller scale, sharing it in that way with their families. (Ex. Do an Arduino experiment with their families).
- Places: The overall learning is applied to solve a certain issue in a certain place, where the whole community is going to be able to see it in action. (Ex. Design something that solves an issue in a place like a farm, park, balcony, river, marketplace, etc)
This model should also be in a decentralized way in which there is no single controlling or teaching entity, but instead, the control and teaching is shared amongst several independent entities. Where everyone learns from everyone, from global to local and backwards. With global content and instructors, that can adapt the content to local issues and teach Community Champions, so they can spread the knowledge between the community, and generate a network of local solutions around the world; that everyone could mix, transform and adapt to solve their problems using local craftsmen, makers and DIY tools.
- Global Content / Instructors: Are going to be a series of classes and tutorials about some skills or crafting techniques that are going to be taught to the Community Champions.
- Community Champions / Adapted Content: Are influencing leaders in the community, natural problem solvers, altruistic humans who are looking for a change in their communities. This are going to become the instructors or facilitators for the rest of the community.
- “Fabri-Kits”: This are DIY kits made to be used in schools as a learning tool that would help to add a STEAM approach to the learning process, while teaching some digital fabrication skills to them, and showing them the scope of some technologies so that inspires their creativity.
Even dough, by now I call it Farm Academy, it could also be a project separated to the Academany or Fab Foundation, and be part of FixPerts or a Distributed Design teaching platform by itself.
I imagine that actually, each village could build its own FarmLab during the classes, with money that comes from investors or government, so that it comes from a co-creation between the community, and that interconnects them to the world.
It could all start with a Mobil / Pop-up FabLab where they will learn at the same time they build their own tools, so they can then autonomously make or repair more stuff.