Open Source Technology Could Be a Boon to Farmers

Robert Chang’s fellow small-scale farmers turn to each other when they need low-cost tech to stay organized as they plant dozens of varieties of vegetables each season and seek to consistently fill their community-supported agriculture (CSA) boxes each week.

Their collective solution? Pre-programmed, customizable spreadsheets that guide them through seed purchases and planting and harvesting schedules. The spreadsheets are free, hacked together, and open source, in a sense. But, Chang told Civil Eats, “it seemed pretty complicated to me, even though I’m an IT person.”

Chang, who started farming eight years ago and works full-time in information technology off-farm, searched for a different solution for his 14-acre organic vegetable and cut flower farm in northeastern Connecticut, finding software aimed at CSAs, which he doesn’t run, or marketing and sales, which he didn’t need. Then he discovered farmOS, a free, open source record-keeping software built on the web platform Drupal.

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