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Building a Community with Open Source Technology and a Bit of Elbow Grease

A Missouri group pioneers DIY construction and farm machinery

Open Source Ecology (OSE) believes that “everyone in the world should have access to technologies needed to escape poverty and generate natural wealth for themselves and their communities.” The Missouri-based organization has developed open source designs for construction and agricultural machinery that communities around the globe can use to provide for their basic necessities.

OSE’s ultimate goal is to develop 40 open source tools that could allow a group of individuals using scrap materials and other low-cost supplies to create an entire village. To date OSE has successfully created the plans for a drill press, a brick press that produces building blocks out of soil, a mid-sized tractor, and transmission-free hydraulic engine that powers the machinery. By utilizing scrap metal to assemble these machines, the end product is significantly cheaper than buying them.

On OSE’s Web site, Wiki-page and blog, interested groups and individuals can access detailed building and operation instructions as well as projected materials costs.

OSE is putting their theories—and tools— into practice. On a piece of land in rural Maysville, Missouri which they have named “Factor E Farms”, OSE leaders and volunteers are using their prototypes to build homes and a research center where they hope to further advance their work. OSE is also embarking on a project called “Build a Village” where they hope to create a fully-functioning village with a build-in economy for about 30 people who are interested in living in an off-grid community of about 30 acres.

Interested readers can follow Open Ecology’s construction progress and its latest open-source tools on its blog openfarmtech.org/weblogs.