The Experimental Farm Network is itself an experiment in participatory plant breeding and collaborative agricultural research. We believe the sustainable crops and growing systems of the future - including those with the power to reverse climate change - will only be developed through a large-scale effort that is open, transparent, and organized from the ground up. Neither giant agri-businesses nor the universities and governments they bankroll will ever innovate a challenge to the dominant status quo, yet these same institutions conduct most agricultural research today. They continue to pour billions into developing the latest genetically engineered crops - designed not to feed the world, but to sell chemicals - while the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants suffers. Farmers will continue to plant GMO corn and soybeans, cotton and canola, for no other reason than they feel they have no other choice. We understand the painful decisions farmers make in the name of survival, which is why we believe this experiment is urgently needed. If the EFN is successful, all farmers will one day have free access to new crops and systems, collaboratively developed for public use, in the public domain, and to benefit the public good.
By this time next year, we plan for the EFN to be organized through a user-friendly, state-of-the-art, open-source website, which is in the process of being built. In this, our pilot year, we are using this form to seek Experiment Designers and Volunteer Growers to test out the model and get this important ball rolling. No particular experience is required. Volunteer Growers get the chance to participate in groundbreaking research whether they have a few square feet of growing space or an entire farm. Once matched up, you will be sent seeds and instructions by Experiment Designers. In this first year, we are guaranteeing that every Volunteer Grower will be sent seed (at the very least by EFN).
As long as you have a project you want to explore, along with the seeds, envelopes, and postage stamps to initiate it, you can be an Experiment Designer within EFN. Perhaps you've been working in your backyard on a productive, frost-hardy, perennial kale, but you don't have enough room to grow out as much as you'd like: you can use the EFN to recruit a dozen Volunteer Growers, or fifty, or a hundred. Maybe you're a seed-saver with a unique old corn, but now your neighbors grow GMOs. Or you make hundreds of potato crosses each year, but don't have time to grow them all out or study them. Personally, we are most excited about using the EFN for research on perennial staple crops - grains, oilseeds, fiber crops, medicinals, fruits, nuts and vegetables - which we believe could one day revolutionize our agricultural system and even halt or reverse climate change.
The EFN is all about matching researchers with volunteers. This year we will be coordinating matches ourselves, but in future years participants will match themselves through the open-source website we are building. We know this idea can succeed, but only with a broad and wide network, because each and every participant increases the network's ability to innovate, especially in breeding projects (the more attempts made, the more chances of finding beneficial mutations). Even beyond breeding projects, this network can be used for any agricultural research that could benefit from wide participation or collaboration. Whether you study soil science & plant-fungi interactions, or animal husbandry & grazing crops, or social justice & farm labor studies, the EFN is being built for you. If you have an idea to improve any aspect of our food or agricultural systems, we want to help you test it.
None of us toiling on our own will ever succeed in making the kinds of advancements this moment in history demands - not in our little backyards, gardens or vacant lots, nor even in our universities, research centers or institutes. But if we all put our heads together; if we coordinate, collaborate, and share resources on an unprecedented scale; if we work together with real urgency, like our future truly depends on it, then there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.
Please fill out as much of this form as possible. You may fill out the first page and return with details later. Information supplied will only be shared with those with whom you are matched. Questions should be directed to EFN co-founders Nate Kleinman (email@example.com
) and Dusty Hinz (firstname.lastname@example.org
). Please follow our progress through our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ExperimentalFarmNetwork
Participation forms should be completed by March 20th, 2015, for inclusion in this year's organizing.
Thank you so much. Let's change the world together.