Food Futures Co-Lab

Two days of imagination, collaboration, and ideation.

Over two days, participants of all backgrounds and skillsets will think about the tools needed to build the food systems of their dreams...

At the end of the workshop we developed concepts to have open source prototypes developed by community technicians. What is below will be posted on the forum. A workshop guide will be put into a zine for download.

Workshop Collaborator Info:

Participant Backgrounds:
  • Masonry and horticulture
  • Food service (10 years)
  • Urban farmer of 8 acres
  • Aquaponics/ microgreens farmer
  • Gardener/ farmer
  • Pop Up Chef for 10 years
Participant Data: Participants in the workshop: 9
Participants who received the scholarship: 5
Participants who had heard of GOSH before this event: 0

Schedule

Friday, September 30th, 2022 (5-8pm) Saturday, October 1st, 2022 (11-4pm)
Introduction & Land Acknowledgement Review
Overview of Workshop & Schedule Lunch:
Vegan Shepherd's Pie, Salad, Roasted Veggies w Black Garlic Honey, Vegan Cookie/ Cake Cups

Snacks:
Coffee, Tea, Granola Bars, Fruit
Dinner:
Jerk Tofu, Peas and Rice, Salad, Chia Seed + Coconut Milk + Mango Puree Cups
Non-tofu option is available for those who requested non-soy.

*Snacks:

Coffee, Tea, Granola Bars, Fruit
Presentation 3:
Erika Whyte
Presentation 1-
How To: Building, Developing, Manufacturing Tools for Open Source Communities (Ananda Gabo)
Activity 1.5-
Introduction to Midjourney
(Led by Miranda Shou and Ananda Gabo)
Presentation 2- Radha Pithadia
Note: Kaitlin Rizzari will be postponing her presentation and workshop due to scheduling conflicts, efforts are underway to include her work in the documentation.
Activity 2-
Speculative Futures + Midjourney + Tool Ideation
(Led by Miranda Shou, Ananda Gabo, and Erika Whyte)
Activity 1-
Community Resource Mapping
Wrap Up
Wrap Up Discussion- Next Steps

Land Acknowledgement:

“The land we are taking up which is Tkaronto, Tkaronto is built upon the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe including the Mississauga of the credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Chippewa, the Huron, the Wendat and many other Indigenous Peoples.

Our workshop today also uses internet infrastructures. We want to remind everyone that the infrastructures that have supported the development of telecommunication including the internet have developed alongside transportation infrastructures, such as railways, which have historically run through stolen lands.”

Special Thanks:

This project would not be possible without the generous support of Gathering for Open Science Hardware and their 2022 Regional GOSH Grants (awarded by The Sloan Foundation). This provided us two days of mentorship, participants of diverse backgrounds and relationships to labour + food systems, collaborative tools, and amazing home cooked meals. For more information, you can see our budgeted grant request on the GOSH forum here: https://forum.openhardware.science/t/apply-here-for-goshs-2022-regional-events-funding-round-1/3290/9.

The space for the event was sponsored by Interaccess (founded in 1982), a Canadian artist-run centre and electronic media production facility in Toronto. For more information about Interaccess please visit, https://interaccess.org/.


Workshop Outcomes (Project Ideations)

There were two tool ideations that came out of the workshop. More information (including next steps) on both of these outcomes are at the end of the documentation.

1) Manual of Decay:

  • “Manual of Decay” is a publicly available reference guide to different definitions, theories, methodologies, and philosophies of decomposition as it relates to the natural world and our food systems. *Might be in the form of a web entry interface or physical zine.

2) Compost Sensor:

  • “Compost Sensor” (working name) is a combination of a temperature sensor and low cost moisture sensor which expresses changes over time (in relation to decay in compost) rather than used as a tool for scientific accuracy.
  • Made for ease of DIY
  • Would be nice to have visual or audio feedback for this
  • Maybe it's connected to a network/ website

The Workshop (Summary)

Day 1 - Mapping of Community Resources

Workshop Leader: Radha Pithadia

Group Mindfulness-

  • Guided meditation and breathwork led by Radha followed by an open discussion on lessons learned in community building, and building sustainable knowledge sharing systems through her experience in Conscious Minds Co-Op.

Community Resource Mapping Exercise-

  • Using a framework inspired by the rings of a tree we independently mapped out our resources starting at the centre (what was readily available) to the outside (what was available through proximity).
  • Then as a group, we had the choice to selectively share parts of our map onto a collective tree ring diagram. An open discussion was held about what we could provide, and what we were looking for.
  • Topics of labour, equity, supply chains, and ethics ended up being at the forefront of the discussion.


Day 2 - Brainstorming + Ideation

Workshop Leader: Erika Whyte

Introduction to Speculation + Food Systems-

  • A history of food systems design (spanning back thousands of years), and speculative futures methodologies were shared with the workshop.
  • During the presentation, Erica led the workshop participants through the practice of writing microfictions (within the context of food futures).
  • Workshop attendees wrote down their future scenarios and shared them with the rest of the group.

Speculative Futures Exercise Using Midjourney-

  • Workshop attendees shared their food future microfictions, where keywords were recorded and used for visual development using AI interpreted prompts. Led by Miranda Shou, Ananda Gabo, and Erica Whyte.

Workshop Methodology (Details, Templates, Reflections)

This expands on what was mentioned in the summary (above), but includes templates and reflections.


Community Resource Mapping Exercise:

In using a metaphor for growth represented by the rings of a tree, workshop attendees were encouraged to start at the centre and map out what they had immediate resources they had access to while eventually adding what proximities to resources they had/ would like to have as the tree rings went out. Click here for a template of the mapping exercise.

This is a alt text. This is a alt text.

This exercise is first done individually, and then a group map is created. Only if a participant chooses to share a resource it can only then be shared to the larger group map.


Use the group map as a starting point, open up a conversation on access/ resources/ strategies/ needs.


Brainstorming + Ideation:

This is a alt text. This is a alt text. Erica introduced histories, methodologies, and exercises in speculation and based on the previous day’s Community Resource Mapping with Radha Pithadia.


By using the prompt “what if…”, collaborators created micro scenarios related to:

  • The future of farming
  • Labour
  • Ecosystems
  • Autonomy
  • Ecological engineering for climate change
  • Land stewardship
  • Microbial ecologies
  • Knowledge sharing


While reading out the micro scenarios that we had written, we started mapping out keywords on a board:

This is a alt text.

Using these keywords, we broke out into groups and used Midjourney as the tool to explore how these ideas can be translated visually using AI interpreted prompts.

This is a alt text. This is a alt text.

We would like to acknowledge that we were inspired by David Kong’s post of using a prompt driven visual generator for creative biology related workshops: https://www.instagram.com/p/ChFlqbYuOtV/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link


In preparation for the workshop, we explored how concepts and terms in creative biology and food systems might be interpreted by Midjourney.

Through these explorations, we used our results to create prompt suggestions for participants to help with the context of the workshop.

We also found that Midjourney was a great choice as the Discord interface was a friendlier one than most visual AI prompt interpreters.

Here are some examples of suggestions that were explored before the workshop:

Hardware Mechanical Tool Software Landscape Food System/ Ecosystem
This is a alt text."triplets horse robotics" This is a alt text."bees tracker in the field" This is a alt text."computer screen, weeds control" This is a alt text."midwife farming" This is a alt text. "bacteria cellulose drinks"
This is a alt text. "forest rain collector" This is a alt text. "butterfly robot for pollen transmission" This is a alt text. "online application for weather monitoring" This is a alt text."soil bacteria and fig trees" This is a alt text. "vegan pizza in a remote forest"
This is a alt text. "woven utensils that weigh proteins" This is a alt text. "basket makers" This is a alt text. "mobile app for climate control" This is a alt text. "fermentation studio in the backyard " This is a alt text."nutritional bar for survival"


We had found some interesting findings based on the uses of Midjourney for hardware and food-based collective speculation.

1) With words like “hardware,” the Midjourney bot can barely interpret and depict how “hardware” takes form. There could not even be any hardware elements as the descriptor “hardware” was too general.

If using the descriptor of hardware, it's important to use the words “mechanical”, “circuit board”, “computer”. In contrast, specific descriptors such as “concrete”, “hemp”, and “butterfly” provided us with more vivid results.


2) The general art style of the image output has the quality of high fantasy concept art. Therefore, using a styling prompt can help produce a more intentional stylistic result.

It’s also interesting to see contextual biases in the AI in how it interprets words such as “folk art.” The image expresses handicraft, and it is hard to tell where it is referenced:

"folk art controller" "food meditation in the style of dali"
This is a alt text. This is a alt text.


3) To get more dynamic results where a form of interaction might be shown, describe an approximation to the interface and interactions to the prompt.

With “controller”, "maker", “relationship”, “transmission” and “monitoring,” the output of the image shows multiple entities interacting with each other and also gives more context on where the action/movement happens.

"basket makers"
This is a alt text.




Here are some of the Midjourney results from our workshop collaborators:

This is a alt text.
Companion planting
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Food meditation in the style of dali
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Plant currency
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Decomposer city
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marshmallow and anise hyssop
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scoby human
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neighbourhood food exchange
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cannabis in space
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photorealistic cannabis on mars
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hemp concrete
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nitrogen fixing architecture
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true nourishment from culturally specific crops
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lemon balm cross lavender hybrid
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mycelium bacteria relationship
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shifting pollinator cycles
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food lab in the style of Wes Anderson
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pollinator decomposer
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trees feeding a community
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interspecies nutrient transfer
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artificial intelligence caring for plants
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all female farmers in the future
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pollinator farming community
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electronic horticultural
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food forest
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interdimensional decomposer insects
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food futures in the pluriverse



Final Project Ideations:

Manual of Decay

“Manual of Decay” is a publicly available reference guide to different definitions, theories, methodologies, and philosophies of decomposition as it relates to the natural world and our food systems.

  • This idea came up as in discussion, we reflected on the one dimensional-ness/ biases of food system representation in Midjourney
  • The idea of circular economy/ using byproducts and waste in our local food systems was also a strong interest amongst the group, but understanding what decay was in different cultural and analytical contexts was something we wanted to know more about.
  • “How do you measure decay?” “What actually is decomposition?”
  • Might be in the form of a web entry interface or physical zine.

Compost Sensor (working name)

“Compost Sensor” (working name) is a combination of a temperature sensor and low cost moisture sensor which expresses changes over time (in relation to decay in compost) rather than used as a tool for scientific accuracy.

  • Made for ease of DIY
  • Would be nice to have visual or audio feedback for this
  • Maybe its connected to a network/ website



Next Steps

For the remainder of 2022, we will be collaborating with technicians in our community to develop the first iterations/ low fidelity prototypes of the Manual of Decay and Compost Sensor. To be shared with an open source licence.


This event would not be possible without the generous support from our sponsors.


Thank you to Gathering for Open Science Hardware for supporting us through your regional grant.

Much appreciation to Interaccess for providing us with workshop space.