biddy GOAT @ Real Food Campaign

The Mission

To create or generate accessible data driven,  location specific tools that help relate to their environment, farm practice, soil health, and food quality.  This may include improving interoperability between existing data streams, creating new data streams, interfaces, analytic, communications, or observation tools.

Background

The Gathering for Open Ag Tech (GOAT) is a ad-hoc gathering of technologists  and agriculture network to collaborate, and create a vision for a fully open agricultural future.  GOAT members endeavor to support ag-related organizations (including the RFC!) trying to solve technical problems while keeping it free as in freedom!

The Real Food Campaign (RFC)  multi-stakeholder collaborative with the goal of increasing the nutrient density of our food supply.  In 2018, the RFC started a nationwide survey of soil and food quality to better understand the connections between farm practice, soil health, and food quality.  In addition, the RFC is developing tools to estimate nutritional parameters in stores and on farms.

The RFC Lab operates the survey which collects food and soil samples from individual farms and stores, and tests them for a suite of nutritional and soil health parameters.

How it Works

  1. Post your idea to the forum – this acts as your application so do it!  It lets us know your coming, gives us and the GOAT community a chance for feedback, and could help you identify additional partners / collaborations.  Your idea should directly address the core mission of the Hackathon (stated above). Ideas may come from a team or an individual, and teams may shift or merge at the conference – that’s completely ok (in fact, we hope they do!).  However, you do need to have a concrete idea when you show up. The purpose is to help teams ensure that the project will excite RFC partners and attendees of the Soil and Nutrition Conference! Not sure about your idea or don’t have one?  Here’s a few examples that may help.
  2. Coordinate with your project partners before the conference.  The final presentations will be directly to conference participants.  While projects do not need to be a functional product / proof of concept, it certainly would help!  So consider doing a little legwork to make your showing the best it can be. If you can’t – don’t sweat it, come as you are 🙂
  3. Sign up for the Soil and Nutrition Conference.  To take part in the Hackathon, you must register for the Soil and Nutrition Conference!  Accommodations are booked separately. Feel free to come to the pre-conference as well if you want!
  4. Show up and hack away!  You will have most of 2 full days to work on your project.  There will be time early on day 1 to get feedback, talk with other participants to see if more collaborations are possible / make sense, and clarify your final product/presentation/pitch.
  5. Present to the community.  At the end of the 2nd day, you will present whatever you have (a mock-up, a product, a proof of concept…) to the participants of the Soil and Nutrition Conference and the Bionutrient Food Association (the organization which runs the conference).  The attendees and the BFA will vote directly with their wallets to support projects which they find most compelling, up to a maximum of $1000 per project.  Projects are not competing with each other, but instead trying to most effectively engage the needs/interest of the audience.  In addition, many prominent ag-related organizations will be present to view the final projects and may consider ongoing support.
  6. Go home happy, accomplished, and tired 🙂

Prizes

All projects will be presented to the participants of the Soil and Nutrition Conference and the Bionutrient Food Association (the organization which runs the conference).  The attendees and the BFA will vote directly with their wallets to support projects which they find most compelling, up to a maximum of $1000 per project. Projects are not competing with each other, but instead trying to most effectively engage the needs/interest of the audience. In addition, many prominent ag-related organizations will be present to view the final projects and may consider ongoing support.

Program

The RFC Hackathon will run concurrently with the Soil and Nutrition Conference, at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center in Southbridge MA.  To take part in the Hackathon, you must register for the Soil and Nutrition Conference!

Dec. 1, Saturday

9:00 – 10:30 – introductions, description of the RFC, and review of hackathon process.

10:00 – 5:00 – work on projects!

Dec. 2, Sunday

9:00 –  10:30 – (optional) walk through of existing ag-related platforms

10:30 – 3:30 – work on projects!

3:30 – 5:00 – final project presentations to Soil and Nutrition Conference participants.

FAQ

Can you provide some example projects?
Sure, here’s a few ranging from doable in 2 days to doable in 20 years:

  1. The RFC currently collects soil and food samples from farms.  We propose to create an API so that RFC data collection software can call a free historical weather API to include daily rain and sun information to their sample meta-data.  This will help contextualize the quality of the plant, and therefore reduce error when identifying correlations between food quality and soil health.
  2. We want to create a web-connected soil penetrometer for simultaneous compaction and soil moisture readings.
  3. We want to build a smartphone app which better engages the RFC community by delivering nutritional information about products in real time which pulls from the RFC Labs database.
  4. We want to build the ultimate ‘tricorder’ handheld sensor which will contain enough data to provide detailed, accurate outputs of food quality in real time!  We don’t know exactly how we’ll do it, but have clever ideas for integrating existing technologies and, with some reasonable assumptions about decreased costs of tech in the future, when this may be feasible.
  5. We want to connect our farm management platform to the RFC Lab so that our user base can submit food and soil samples with highly granular on-farm data.
  6. We want to solve a user experience problem in collecting on-farm data – to make it easy for farmers to collect significant amounts of data without data fatigue, and to do so in a comparable, consistent way across farms.

Can I attend?
Anyone can attend but YOU MUST submit your idea to the forum and receive feedback and sign up for the Soil and Nutrition Conference (these are required!).

What is the expected time commitment?
If you intend to present a compelling project/idea/etc, you will need all the time you can get. At least one member of your team should plan to commit 100% of the conference time to the Hackathon. We understand if people want to go to a workshop or meeting, but you probably won’t be successful unless you dedicate all of one person and most of everyone else’s time to hacking at the conference.

How do I get there?
In general, if you’re far away, fly into boston and rent a car or take the bus (https://www.rome2rio.com/s/Boston/Southbridge).  If you’re within 7 – 8 hour drive just drive – the flight + rental isn’t really worth it.  The conference website has more info: https://soilandnutrition.org/lodging-and-meals/.

What should I bring?
Bring whatever you need to work on your project, and anything else you think may come up.  Definitely computer, cords, cables for hardware, cool stickers, the usual.

Is this mostly hardware, software, or what?
All of the above.  A new sensor or unique physical device which enhances data relating soil health to food nutrition would be great.  Also, connecting two platforms so they can share data, thereby allowing users to better track farm management with soil health would also be great. On net there probably is a bias towards improving interoperability between existing platforms / hardware, but don’t let that limit you.

How does registration work?
If you submit your idea and get positive feedback, sign up for the conference, and show up, you’re in!

What will I eat?
When you sign up for the conference + hotel meals are included unless you choose to get them a la cart (details here: https://soilandnutrition.org/lodging-and-meals/).

How do teams work?
You should come with an idea and a team (one or many), but it’s completely ok to switch teams, adjust teams, or even adjust whole ideas once you get here.  This is a outcome-focused hackathon – we care only that we make the most compelling stuff for the RFC community we possibly can!

What about travel reimbursements?
Sorry, we don’t have reimbursements available, though you can email the conference organizers to put in a request.

I don’t code — what about me?
It completely depends on your project.  The goal here is to create something compelling to the community… it is entirely possible to create a compelling data schema, or build out a compelling front-end design for a common application.  While coding certainly helps, it is not required… though, as stated before, you do need to have an idea coming in!

What if I don’t have a team?
If you want to come but don’t have a team or an idea, you are still welcome!  It is possible (though in no way guaranteed) you could join an existing team. But note that this is a goal-oriented hackathon – we will not have lots of mentors walking around supporting teams, and a lot of the work will be quite focused (there will be a few mentors, but not lots).  So you may learn something by osmosis, but you may also want to go to conference sessions while the projects are furiously and silently coding away.