Meet AKER, Open Source, Snap Fit Kits for Your Backyard Urban Farm

Growing your own organic food can be a challenge for busy city dwellers. A new open source project called AKER is making it easy to get started by creating flat‐pack beehives, chicken coops, compost bins, and raised planter beds that people can be downloaded and ‘printed’ locally to start growing food. All the kits snap together in minutes (no tools are required) and can be easily transported in a small vehicle. Each of the designs are available to download in digital form and “printed” at a local CNC workshop, which are commonly found in cities.

Last year, AKER’s founders created the Open Source Beehives project, a network of citizen scientists using sensor‐enhanced beehives to track the decline of honeybee populations. Noticing that one of the most important things we can do to help bees thrive is to plant healthy forage, Tristan Copley‐Smith and Aaron Makaruk decided to use the same design concept to accelerate the urban food movement.

AKER is trying to connect the creativity and innovation of the “maker movement” with our need to re‐localize food production. This is important not just because processed food are really bad for us, but because we need to avert the environmental damage being caused by our wasteful industrial agriculture system.” Tristan Copley-Smith, Co-Founder of AKER & the Open Source Beehives project.

“Open source collaboration, working together without patent restrictions, is the most direct way to innovate technological solutions to our common global” Aaron Makaruk, Co-Founder of AKER & the Open Source Beehives project.

Traditional urban farming kits require tools and assemblies that make it harder for families to get involved. AKER kits flat pack and snap together so easily that anyone can be up and running in the time it takes to set up an IKEA product.

“I could tell that the project had the potential to radically lower the barriers to entry for growing your own food.” Adam Brock, Adviser of Strategic Planning for the GrowHaus.

AKER is a social venture dedicated to lowering the barriers to entry for urban farmers throughout the world. We offer a line of urban homesteaders kits (chicken coops, plant beds, compost bins, beehives, and wall planters) that can be bought or made locally using the openly available source files. Featured in Treehugger, MAKE Magazine, and FastCo, the project harnesses a global community of collaborators working together to expand everyone’s access to healthy, locally produced food.

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