It has been a while since we’ve posted any updates about what we’ve been up to here at Tiny Farms, but rest assured we’ve been busy. Now we are excited to announce our latest project! Here’s an introduction to what’s coming up, and we will have lots more to share in the coming weeks and months.
Over the the last year we have encountered two major trends in the fledgling edible insect industry:
1. People are developing awesome consumer friendly food products, but cannot find a reliable supply of food grade insects.
2. Lots of people are interested in getting started farming insects for food and feed, but they don’t know where to start and have a hard time finding good information about how to go about it. We get questions about both of these every single day!
The solution to the foodies’ problem is obvious - they just need more people farming insects. However, would-be farmers have a much tougher situation figuring out how to step up and start filling that demand.
We realized that we could make the biggest impact by providing a bridge to get interested folks actively raising insects, building the experience they’ll need to scale up to larger operations.
To that end, we are proud to announce: Open Bug Farm.
Introducing Open Bug Farm
Open Bug Farm is a project to create an out-of-the-box, home scale insect farming kit that will allow anyone to start building their own herd of edible bugs.
The farm kit will be entirely open source, with the goal that anyone in the world will be able to build their own farm from readily available materials. As well as the blueprints, the farming processes and control and monitoring technology will also be open source, enabling anyone with access to the information to start growing bugs, collecting data and contributing their learning back to the community.
To make it easy to get started, we'll be making pre-sourced kits available to buy directly. It's our hope that a diverse community of hobbyists and researchers will advance the technology, readying it for deployment where it will make the biggest impact. Imagine an entrepreneur in Africa or Southeast Asia having free access to plans that will enable them to start their own farming business, using "battle-tested" techniques developed by a global community. It's a power that has driven major innovations, from the Linux operating system to the Arduino, applied to a new kind of agriculture.
To deliver the best possible solution, we’re taking a lesson from the technology industry. We know that design is an evolutionary process, and that teams of people working together and openly sharing information are able to develop the most innovative solutions. So instead of building a static, closed product and selling it as is, we are working to create an ecosystem of product, knowledge, community, and service.
With greater detail below, each Open Bug Farm kit will include:
- All the basic equipment to house and care for the insects
- Instructions and background information to maintain a healthy productive population
- Membership to an active community, with the tools to share information
- Online farm management tools, to maintain records and track progress
We will be offering the complete kits for sale, with all the equipment ready to “plug and play”. However, a key goal of the project is that all the materials required should be low cost and readily available worldwide, so DIY farmers can easily build equipment for themselves.
Rather than just shipping a box of parts, we are working to build a community. We will be maintaining a web based community platform so that farmers can meet, share experiences, and discuss improvements to the design. By working as a giant team, continuously evolving the design, we'll be able to optimize production efficiency much faster than we could in isolation. The stream of new design ideas and insights will benefit everyone.
In addition to shipping each kit with a detailed instruction manual, farmers will have access to a living knowledge base where we are carefully compiling and organizing the results of the community's research and experience raising insects. As a set of living documents, the knowledge base will be kept up to date with our own latest findings and insights from the community, creating a resource whose value will grow continuously.
To support our farmers, we are building a web based farm management system where farmers can track activity, keep records, and analyze and compare the data they collect while running their farm. Pre-built kits will include access to this system, and DIY kit builders will be able to sign up. We will be launching with a base set of features informed by our own experience raising insects, and going forward our development will be driven by what the community needs.
Interested? Let us know!
We are really excited about the potential for this project, and we look forward to hearing from anyone interested in taking part! Whether you're a prospective farmer, an educator or researcher, or someone with a passion for sustainable tech, we'd love for you to take part.
If you would like to be kept up to date about the kits, just let us know your email in the form below. Also stay tuned because we’ll be posting more details and discussion about the project soon.
For more information, see our homepage, and check out this video!