Print your own urban farm: AKER offers a full suite of open source urban ag kits

AKER open source urban farming kits

These flat-packable kits are designed to boost urban agriculture, ranging from flower & vegetable production to worm composting to backyard chickens and beekeeping, and require no tools for assembly.

From the team behind the Open Source Beehives project comes another innovative take on DIY urban farming, this time with a suite of open source tools for producing food and healthy soil in backyards, balconies, or community gardens, all of which can be "printed" with a CNC router from a sheet of plywood.

AKER's open source urban farming kits include designs for raised beds, a worm composter, a tiny backyard chicken coop, a beehive, and a vertical planter, suitable for both novice gardeners and skilled growers alike, and are "designed to make growing food a simple, beautiful experience."

AKER has designed the GroGrid ("a modular, multi-level, raised planter bed"), the GroSquare (a raised bed), the EcoHive (a top bar beehive), the GroWall (wall-mounted planter), the EggHaus (a two-hen chicken coop), and the WormHaus (worm composting bin), all of which together could be used to build "a complete backyard farm." The kits, just like the Open Source Beehives, are assembled without any screws or glues, and can be flat-packed for shipping or transport.

The kits are all designed to be fabricated from plywood, a material which is readily available but often raises concerns about off-gassing of formaldehyde from the adhesives used to make it, but according to one of the founders, the AKER kits use plywood "that meets Carb II standards for no added urea formaldehydes," so as to not negatively affect the soils, chickens, bees, or people using the kits.

Another feature of the AKER kits, as seen in the below video, is that the layout and design files aim to use as much of the sheet of plywood as possible, with only a small percentage of the original sheet ending up as waste, and according to the narrator, all of the sawdust from the cutting can also be used to feed compost piles and build healthy soils.

Currently, the AKER project is seeking crowdfunding via an Indiegogo campaign, and backers of the project can choose to have one or more of the finished kits sent to them as a reward, or can grab the design files and "print" their own at a makerspace or woodshop. For those who are interested in the development of these urban farming kits, the AKER forum offers a great peek into the process of designing, developing, and prototyping open source hardware for growing food, and fans of the movement can follow along via the AKER Facebook page.

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