This initiative is part of the Diversity by Design project.
Why this workshop? In our research with small-scale farmers in Eastern Ontario and Southern Quebec, many have expressed that automation cannot replace years of farming experience, gut feeling, and field knowledge gained through astute observations of the land. Likewise, some farmers see the use of (digital) technologies as complementary to their farming practices. We therefore ask:
What if digital tools could be designed to enhance human experience, like embodied farming knowledge or gut feeling, while also reflecting the principles of biodiverse farming?
For this work, we draw inspiration from farmer “hacktivists” who are developing digital tools for sustainable agriculture (e.g., FarmHack). Our starting point is that, while the art of farming can likely never be replaced, new technologies might enhance, surface, or augment field-based expertise.
These one-day workshops (in early 2023) aim to connect farmers’ and market gardeners’ experiential knowledge, intuition, and lived experiences with the design of digital technologies. In a collaborative setting, we will explore this possibility, focusing on farmers and their needs. Rather than trying to “scale-down” the digital tools used in Big Ag, we want to think through digitization with and for sustainable small-scale food producers.
Technology developers and policy makers will also join us for these workshops.
The workshops will result in:
- Co-created ideas for possible tools or processes that combine farming knowledge and intuition with digital technologies. All workshop participants will have equal, shared access to any design outcomes, while the research team will retain no private intellectual property rights.
- Recommendations based on small-scale farmers’ needs that have not properly been considered by policy makers.
- A platform for farmer collectives to connect over potential future collaborations and to exchange common interests.
When and where: Due to Covid-19, we have had to postpone the workshops to Winter 2023: please get in touch if you would like to join.
All participating farmers will receive an honorarium of $300, as well as gas money for travel.
Coffee, snacks, and lunch will be provided.
What will the day look like?
- The workshop will include a series of collaborative exercises, either in small teams or as a full group. We estimate that we will have about 15 participants in all.
- The exercises will include brainstorming sessions, concept development work, creative speculation, and problem-solving tasks.
- No special expertise or preparation is required, and the session facilitators will help make connections between the different kinds of knowledge that each participant brings to the table.
If you have any specific questions or suggestions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.