Cultivating Change

Beets and roots meet bleeps and bloops when open source code powers a DIY urban garden.

food computers

Food computers

A food computer is essentially a tabletop garden. It’s a foam box that contains everything a plant could need to grow and thrive: water, food, light, and a controlled climate. A small computer called a Raspberry Pi controls all those elements via a network of sensors, lights, and fans. Students at Green Street Academy have built a hydroponic system using plans for an affordable food computer.

Get plans to build your own on GitHub

raspberry pi food computer controller

Raspberry Pi

Tiny but powerful and deliciously named, the Raspberry Pi is the brains of the food computer. In Melanie’s classroom, it’s connected to a fan to cool the food computer, to an adjustable temperature sensor, and to a customizable grow light that changes based on each plant’s needs. And of course, all the code that controls these functions is open source.

Get started with Raspberry Pi

melanie shimano founder food computer program

Melanie Shimano

Founder, Food Computer Program

In Shimano’s Food Computer Program, high school students at Green Street Academy in west Baltimore have built food computers and taught younger kids at other schools how to do the same. Shimano and her pupils are showing their community a healthier way to eat by sharing what they grow―and what they learn.

Explore the Food Computer Program

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