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Organize an Event

This is a guide intended to help you host a FarmHack event at your university, non-profit, or farm. Most  of our previous events have been organized with volunteer labor and  minimal costs, and have had valuable outcomes.  Remember, that this like most content on Farm Hack is user generated and can be updated and improved by members of the community like you! 


Bring people together to document tools and empower independent future documention. Provide materials and structural support for community members to independently organize and host Farm Hack events that bring community members together, recruit new community members, promote knowledge and skill exchange and result in new, complete documentation of tools. 

Why host a Farm Hack event?

  • Train event attendees in Farm Hack documentation procedures and empower future tool development and documentation
  • Share design prototypes, stories etc.
  • Provide a place for organizational and individual collaborations to form
  • Strengthen relationships between organizational partners and Farm Hack
  • Recruit new community members 
  • Create solutions to local challenges by drawing on the diverse sets of skills already available in your community.

What are different types of events?

Farm Hack events have primarily been about problem solving and design,  but there are other possibilities that would serve the community well.   Each of these will have their own unique requirements and flavor.  Some  examples:

Design events

Build Events

Skills events

Documentation Events

Software hackathons

Conceptual forums

Remember that documentation is the technology's DNA that  enables it to be reproduced and adapt, evolve and hybridize with other  technology so make sure that the event and the outcomes are well  documented!

Event Organizing Guide

Event Facilitator/s

An individual and/or local organization that is willing to co-organize and take on most local logistics.  This person/organization needs to be self-funded, or locate local funding or sponsorship themselves.  Familiarity with local farmer/food community very helpful.

Facilitation Tasks:

1.     Identify a specific goal and outcome for the event. What is a need in the local farmer community that can be addressed? What kind of event can best fit this need? How will work continue after the event, and how will all tool development and discussion be documented and shared effectively?

2.     Begin dialogue early: talk to relevant community  players: local nonprofits, established farmers, extension agents, university people, student groups. Vet idea, get suggestions and flesh out scope and event plan.

a.     Also reach out to larger partners (organic farming associations; NCAT, USDA, FSA, etc).

3.     Identify host farm/event participants – established, innovative farmer/s that will play host; other experts/workshop leaders and the topics they will cover.

4.     Find venue/s for event: often we have split time between a host farm, and a university or community space where brainstorming, internet use and documentation can happen. Size of event can be anywhere from 5 to 100 people.  Be aware of how what your intention for the event is informs how many people you want to attend, and what communities you want to be represented (farmers, engineers, extension agent, students, etc)

5.     Coordinate meals and lodging (or find willing volunteer to help you do this) – get food donations to prepare meals with the group, or make it a potluck.  Take advantage of open source community whenever possible – crowdsource places for people to stay the night through event forum; have cooking and other volunteer signups.

6.     Event outreach: This depends on the format of your event. Are you targeting a select group of people individually, or casting a wide net? You can use email blasts, snippets in newsletters, and targeted persistent follow up with farmers and others you really want to be there.  Again be conscious of who specifically will add to and benefit from the event, and how to reach them.  Be careful of getting too heavy representation of one skillset or group that may not be as active participants (students, generally interested community members).

7.  Make event RSVP  (though google form or eventbrite)

8. Facilitate event as its happening and ensure documentation/follow up happens

 Event Components:

These are examples, not requirements. 

1.     Showcase of farmer tools/innovations:   In person demonstrations of equipment, tools, or technology of interest, possibly in context of farm visit, i.e. host farm

2.     Tutorial of a design process – an example of tool design/adaptation, build, and documenting.

3.     Tutorial of a documentation process - using the Farm Hack platform and other tools to document a piece of hardware, software or process

4.     Idea sharing and design brainstorm (design charrette)

  • Groups break down by interest, and focus on specific project or problem.
  • Emphasize documentation as you go – live uploading to web.

5.     Community building/Networking/Collaboration building

  • Bountiful farm meals, beautiful setting, bonfires, beer sponsors, music.
  • Event is not just for conducting business, but also building a strong local community that can work together in the future.
  • Inclusiveness – make effort to reach out to and involve any relevant local organization/actor, if they want to be.  Flexible levels of involvement – sponsorship, co-organizing, outreach, providing resources etc.


  • Emphasize documenting whole event and process
    •  Photos, video of presenters/demos, assigned notetakers.
    • Documentation on community format – use event forums effectively, and live document new tool ideas.

b.     Talk future community structure: ensuring concrete and lasting outcomes

                                             i. Do people want to meet up monthly? Schedule a second hack?

                                            ii. Create listserv or other way to maintain future communication (through

                                          iii. Discuss strategies for improving and sustaining the farm hack community (locally and online).

Potential Funding Sources:

-       local coop/natural food groceries

-       local hardware, farm supply or farm equipment stores

-       local nonprofits or successful and large farms

-       natural foods companies (especially those based in the region)

-       local community foundations

-       local universities – sustainable ag institutes, departments, etc.

-       ask those who have organized similar events/projects in the community, or who have looked for funding in the past.


-       get event poster designed, with accompanying event blurb

-       start page on

- start event forum, to jumpstart discussion and for logistics (couch share, ride share)

-       email blasts to farm hack, greenhorns and NYFC lists

-       larger listservs: comfood, any regional listservs (go through your contacts in nonprofit/government/service provider world).  Farmer listservs.

-       Go through universities, trade schools, community colleges: identify professors, departments etc that are relevant.

-       BE PERSISTENT – especially with farmers and busy professors. They will need multiple reminders.


Sample Event Schedule:

Day 1.   Saturday

9 am. Welcome to Intervale- Intervale staff

Buffet Breakfast

9.15 am Welcome to Farmhack

9.30am  Moderated proposal open space, break into groups for design charette

Design Charette in Barn at intervale

12.20 lunch with high mowing SEED SWAP

1.30om Projector lessons, moderated by Rob Rock.

3.00pm Walk over to the INtervale workshop area


4.00 pm walk back to the Barn, fresh air, apple break.

4.15 pm  short project presentations

5pm catch last ferry over to ESSEX SIDE

6pm Nice big dinner in the Grange Hall with SPIT ROASTED ANIMAL ON the spit made by Courtney

*the grange will be showing a film at 8pm if interest.

7pm Bon fire on the hill with beer

10 pm sleep in the barn at BLACK KETTLE.


Day 2.  Sunday, April 29, 2012

7.30 am Morning coffee ! either at the school or at the dogwood.

Morning Tour of Essex farm.

Lunch at the Whallonsburg Grange.

discussion about the presentations yesterday, follow up, group work

1.30 pm SHOP TALK

Afternoon talk on micro-hydro/ pedal power


2.00 pm  alternative afternoon activity

soap making at the grange

Those who need to sleep. sleep, those who need to leave, leave.

Black kettle sleepover

After the Event:

- Notes, photos and audio recording of the event should be collected.  

- notes, especially design charrette notes posted to event forum

- Photos posted on Farm Hack Flickr group:

- Press release with event synopsis written and sent to farm hack press list.  

- Event cataloged in “past events” section, with event page changed to include synopsis/recording/flickr link, and link to forum.