Our meals system is damaged. As with so many techniques of the twenty first century, energy is concentrated within the arms of only a few firms, usually geared towards exploiting folks and the planet, underneath the premise of maximizing revenue. Under such a mindset, feeding folks is a secondary aim. When it involves one thing as essential as meals, we are able to and will purpose for greater than this as a society. What if the aim turned getting high-quality, nutritious, and ecologically regenerative produce from farms to plates of each individual on the earth?
We imagine getting meals to everybody isn’t a radical idea. But getting there requires radical pondering. It requires placing the folks most concerned within the meals system (producers, eaters, and communities) on the coronary heart of the meals system. It means placing collaboration above mental property. It means making a commonwealth of information and sources. This is the strategy we’re taking on the Open Food Network (OFN).
What is the Open Food Network?
OFN was based in Australia 10 years in the past by two farmers. The launch was empowered by the capability to create a community of small-scale farmers and retailers devoted to bettering how meals is bought and delivered to folks.
Many initiatives already existed at the moment (community-supported agriculture CSA, shopping for teams, native meals shops), however none of them have been engaged on the expertise wanted to leverage cooperation between the completely different actors on meals provide chains. This was the principle motivation and aim for the founders of OFN: to supply an online platform to assist initiatives work together and collaborate, as a thriving community.
Why use open supply?
Joining a community usually means having the capability to entry peer information and sources. Creating OFN additionally meant combining the trouble in sustaining infrastructure and instruments. This was interesting to everybody who needed to hitch, however wanted to occur with out compromising every actor’s sovereignty within the course of.
To illustrate, check out the next instance.
If you resolve to launch an area and natural tree farming enterprise, there’s a good likelihood you would possibly have to work on bettering the land you have simply purchased. In some instances this results in years of onerous work. During this time, it is onerous to make use of the companies of a younger startup that may shut their service early or resolve to extend their charges. If this occurs, you both have to alter software program or take in the influence in your personal enterprise mannequin. In the farming world, this may put many small companies in jeopardy.
Yet, the answer to rely solely on software program options from established firms would really recreate on the software program facet the identical focus of energy you are attempting to keep away from on the meals facet.
That’s why the OFN software program platform was launched. From the very begin, it operated underneath the AGPL v3 license. This is a license that enables anybody to contribute or reuse, so long as they share their work underneath the identical license once more. This meant engaged on neighborhood tips on how contributions will be completed. It additionally meant creating guidelines for the way folks work collectively. Yes, the native startup which affords OFN as a service can nonetheless fail and shut its doorways. But having a community-led open supply software program means you will discover different firms or organizations to run and enhance the software program for you. You aren’t tied up with just one group.
However, free software program doesn’t stop you from an surprising rise in service charges (until you are really deploying your personal server). That’s why OFN operates on an open and clear governance mannequin. We use collaborative decision-making inside our international community of communities. We additionally work collaboratively with farmers and meals enterprises in every nation to design software program and sources that help their wants.
So, as a software program consumer, you possibly can be part of the governance of your native supplier via membership or shareholding. There, you possibly can share your voice earlier than modifications happen in the way in which the service is offered to you (worth, high quality, availability).
What is OFN doing at present?
Ten years after its launch, OFN is a neighborhood spreading throughout three continents with 15 stay manufacturing cases. More than 6,000 farmers and 700 native retailers are utilizing the software program on a day-to-day foundation.
This was made doable as a result of passionate, devoted folks from all all over the world are placing within the time, nice concepts, and onerous work to construct and keep the software program platform. They additionally create the sources wanted to construct a greater meals system.
We work collectively in order that we’re all serving to one another attain every aim we set, which signifies that we get greater than we might presumably create on our personal!
To assist preserve this superior neighborhood shifting ahead, we lately determined to launch a GitHub sponsor web page. While we would like every native supplier of the software program to turn out to be sustainable and contribute to the principle software program maintainability, we’re not at this stage but. We rely closely on grants and different public or non-public funding.