Modular Urban Food Garden Experimentation Framework Development

The idea for this action is to put together a skeleton framework for how to create a modular urban food gardeners’ lab that links gardeners of all levels of experience and fosters community around the garden site.

To build capacity for growing food locally within a challenging urban environment, to experiment with new technologies and innovation in gardening alongside traditional practices, and to provide an accessible, community based project. The project will offer the opportunity to learn by doing, as well as for exploring multiple methods of growing plants.

#Structure (initial ideas)
The project comprises interacting modules that are looked after by teams - for instance a water module, an automated irrigation module, a salad growing module, a composting module.

  • The project will be comprised of multiple modules, which address needs and resources:
    • Production modules (where things grow edible / non-edible / useful for other purposes eg: growing fabric, fuel)
    • Rainwater capture
    • Automated watering
    • Monitoring
    • Compost
  • Each module will be run by a team of 3-5 people
  • The module foci will be decided upon by the team, new modules will be discussed on an ad hoc basis
  • Each module will be expected to host at least 2 workshops per year, perhaps engaging an outside guest.
  • These will be held at the weekend, in both German and English, free of charge, and will be advertised in both languages using paper flyers distributed in the local neighbourhood.
  • Extra funding will be sought out as necessary
  • We expect each module to use the principles of open source circular economy alongside sustainability in the planning and execution of their project part
  • There is an expectation that each team will find an appropriate way to capture and share the learning of their module activity beyond the workshops as dissemination activities
  • At harvest time there will be a showcase exhibition of the project and modules (posters, show and tell) - some of which could be turned into a permanent exhibition
  • In order to promote longevity of the project, project members take on the responsibility to find a replacement on their module if they leave


  • are there better ways to engage with existing communities around the site?
  • what should the core modules be to create a working garden?
  • how do we promote OSCE practices with the urban farmers who join us?
  • what’s the best online way to organise the information and promote discussion and promote community?
  • would it be useful to think about growing plants / organisms for purposes other than food - e.g. fuel, materials?


Idea worked up with Olivier Hargot and Timothe Feodoroff


That is a fantastic post! And to have an ACTION recipe that allows people to kick of and run such a gardeners lab would be fantastic.

###ACTION size
I wonder how it could be approached the best way with the ACTION protocol idea. In the Meta-ACTION about ACTIONS we assumed, that bigger projects need to be broken down into smaller parts. So people can do first steps without a big longterm commitment. Test the waters. If it can be done with an event it might be good, because events allow to motivate people to do stuff. People come because there is no longterm commitment asked for. But you can see if there is the energy for it.

So what could be a fun first step - a fun part – easy to set up but working in the longterm vision of such a gardeners lab with connected modules.

###Build a first module?

Probably, as you are suggesting, to start with one of the modules. Set up one module. And this in a way, that it can be later connected to other modules and maintained with the methodology you describe (3-5 people etc.)

What would be a cool first module to test it?

(Some loose ideas that come to mind @dax is working a lot with mushrooms and do you know Valentinas biogas digester? I think there are a lot of Open Source resources on urban gardening are out there. It is probably good to start with something that is well documented already? But you listed such inspiring module ideas already.)

(Ps. If there is something to build for the module I am happy to throw myself in to help figure out a way how to build it with the 3erlin Grid and local circular materials.)

Amazing, thanks for the enthusiastic response @Lars2i!

I’ve been concentrating on writing a framework for implementing the project, so hadn’t got to the point of formulating it into a single event or action beyond - so I totally welcome your pragmatism and will to get the ball rolling physically! :smiley:

Perhaps as you suggest, a first module would be a great idea. For me, everything starts with compost :wink: - but it would be good to have a discussion about what core module might be the best thing to start with - and where. @dax’s mushrooms might be a nice way to start.

This idea has come out of tentative discussions with Agora Rollberg about using the outdoor space - but we would still need to get it accepted for the space, which we haven’t done yet. I think it would work in any location where we have some permanent space. Or at least I’ve been thinking that permanent space is a requirement for the community engagement aspect.

I like the idea of an event - from your experience, how does that impact on people seeing through the project? With this project design, there’s quite a crucial reliance on people committing to the project - do you think that’s an unrealistic expectation, and conversely if it’s a realistic goal, is it something that can grow out of a one-off event?

Thank you thank you so much for the offer of helping to build what we need to - I think there will be a definite need for raised beds / hydroponics in the first instance and maybe more besides!

(cc @Alice_audrey, @simonlee and @friederike we will email about this very soon!)

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###An Action?
Yes, maybe this is at the moment not so much an ACTION but a project to figure out what works and condense it later into a clear step by step guide. But maybe a hypothesis for an order of steps can be created now and written down to be tested?

###Physical Space
Yes, from what I learned a permanent space is key for the community engagement.

So in an ACTION script this would be one of the steps - find a space. :wink:

###First Module
Some people love more to talk and fantasize about things than doing them. An open question about what should be the first module is what would keep them active and together – for some time. Others really like to do things instead of talking about them. Knowing: No theory survives first contact with physical reality.

So it is good to focus on getting stuff done. Keep the discussion part as short as possible. It is important to pick a module that inspires and motivates you - and maybe one or two people more.

Events have pros and cons. They make it easier to mobilize a group of people and get stuff done. I think they work because they ask for short term commitment! And naturally the longterm fall out is usually very low.

But they do create opportunities though. When people wanted to found the Meta-Lab in Vienna they had a first meeting with almost 50 ppl attending. At the second meeting were less than 10. But those built the the Meta-Lab.

If people continue the collaboration depends heavily on soft factors - do they like each other, are they on the same page and comfortable around each other? An event can help to find each other.

The likability part becomes less important though once a physical reality is created – a working module in an available space for example. Shared resources people have an interest to have access to or even depend on change the soft factors or make them less important. We all use the streets in this city, we depend on them – they structure our live/have their own intentions – and we collaborate to maintain them (by paying taxes). It really does not matter anymore if you like the other people on the street. This is what is at the other end.

If you will the streets are a community member in this city.

An hands on event can help to create a physical reality - for example build a first module – create this community member.

I think I like that about OSCEdays - that it is - for me - about creating this physical community members, that are unpredictable then: No theory survives first contact with physical reality. But start to follow their own intentions.

The rest around it - the soft human factors - are too complex and unpredictable. So let’s try to get this new physical community members and see what they’ll do to us.

And if those community members are created in or with a culture of openness … if they breath openness … well, then they are community members of an open community. Let’s see how this comes together (and if).

‘Open Source Circular Design’ asks for physical community members that are unknown, and I’d like to meet. :banana: (Open Source = built for or to be picked up by a community)

###Physical Module
So that is probably why I think to have a simple step by step guide about setting up a first module is really interesting: Step 1: Find a physical space Step 2: Study the building plan … source materials … Step 3: find at least 3 ppl. willing to maintain the module for a while…. How can this list of steps be designed that it makes the emergence of the framework you are thinking about likely? To have the ‘theory’ of this framework in the back of your head is good - it is a good starting point and will help you to design the steps (and I really like that theory) - but don’t forget no theory …

Sorry for the long post. Just realized I have written down here some of the points that are core to me about OSCEdays I have never expressed like this before. So thanks for your questions. @BoST have a look at it.

Hi, I think modular approaches to urban farming/ gardening are a very good idea. Have you done some research on the already available open hardware yet? Are you in touch with the urban gardening network in Berlin? If so: please share your status quo. If not: this would be a very good starting point.
I’m just off to give an urban gardening workshop at this conference: so I won’t b on the forum until the weekend. But I’ll certainly check again on the progress of your idea once I’m back.

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Hello Lars!

I hope the Circular Labs event is going well! One thing that I would find interesting is the combination of our Mushroom Containers with Greenhouses/aquaponics. The synergies could be quite high!

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yes, I also like the idea of worm composters - german project about it + german forum about worm composters (forum)

Eisenia fetida on compost bin

Worms just added

Compost about two years old (6847931604)

Hi Everyone - I’m really into bringing in existing urban farming and gardening knowledge into the project - and to create concrete actions to move this forward. I’ve got really good news, which is that today we’ve agreed with Agora Rollberg to move forward with the Gardeners’ Lab there.

Having a physical location will impact on how we go about things, and I’ll update the framework with the way it’ll work with the space so that we can use that to launch into the location-specifics. We are looking to kick off in early January, and it would be totally awesome to bring all these ideas to the first physical meeting, and to formulate these ideas into actionable interventions in the Rollberg space. We’re looking at trying to populate the core modules of composting (or indeed a wormery like you suggested Lars, which might work really well here), rainwater collection (using existing rainwater butts at Rollberg), and using the greenhouse space, and then bring in food-producing modules (and building of OSCE raised beds).

More soon - let me know if you’ve any thoughts or questions or comments.

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Hi @kat, @ChrisH, @Lars2i!

Apologies for never responding to this, guess the notification just got lost. Are you still playing around with these concepts? I’m working on some fungi projects with Agora now, mostly just cultivation classes but we’d like to expand that :slight_smile:

let’s get together on the 8./9. April 2017 for the 2. Docu-Days to discuss what we can do in Berlinb this year at the OSCEdays in Agora Rollberg.

Hi @dax @Lars2i @ChrisH

After lots of discussion with Agora Rollberg it seemed like this framework wasn’t a good fit there, so the project is on hold until we can find another location for it / online space to collect the learning. Sounds like Docu-Days as suggested by @transitionmica might be a good place to get together and discuss possibilities - what does everyone think?

I’d like to plan another Cyceloo-iteration and translate the Open Source Juice Press into English so everyone can use it through the forum. Other from that I would love to start a proper collection of composting toilets/ humanure, pee-ponics, rocket stove/ wood gasifier stove and micro-methanzation documentations, and then discuss the circular home solutions of Gien and Jay. But as I have limited capacities to get all this going, I’d also be happy to go with the Mushroom Farm as long as we get something going for people to iterate during the 2017 events worldwide.

some examples:

Sounds good. Let’s chat during the docu days. I will post the link to the chat room and times for the video calls soon here. OSCEdays’ 2nd – DOCU-DAYS - April 8 - 9, 2017

@transitionmica cool links. Pls post them along with your plans also under the docu days.