Photo of OpenAg Initiative at MIT

Chris Crisman & Caleb Harper (US)

The Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAG) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is on a mission to create more farmers for the future of food production. They are developing open-source hardware and software platforms for sensor-controlled hydroponic and aeroponic agriculture systems. Chris Crisman photographed scientist and founder of the CityFARM project at MIT, Caleb Harper, and his team working on the MIT CityFarm at the MIT Media Lab in Boston.

The OpenAG process begins with the production of controlled-environment agriculture systems. These personal food computers are set to provide specific controlled environments that can be modified, manipulated, upgraded, and hacked as users experiment to find the perfect growing conditions for their favorite fresh foods. Nutrition and flavour can be maximised, water and energy use can be minimised, and preferences can be customised to suit every individual set of needs.

The open-source platform enables contributors to keep track of their data and discoveries so that the conditions for the local environments they’ve created can be shared around the world. Breaking down geographical limitations and cutting down on transportability requirements will allow local growers to focus on feeding people in their own communities. Even cities can become the perfect growing grounds to produce the kinds of healthy, fresh foods that they will need to support their growing populations.


Caleb Harper is a research scientist and director of the design and development of the MIT CityFARM. He leads the anti-disciplinary group of engineers, architects, urban planners, economists and plant scientists in the exploration and development of high performance urban agricultural systems. His current work is focused in the areas of building integrated and control environment agriculture, actuated sensing, control automation and data-driven resource and energy optimisation. Chris Crisman is an internationally recognised commercial photographer. Chris is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His work has been recognised by prestigious trade organisations such as Luerzers Archive, Communication Arts, American Photography, Photo District News, Graphis, and the International Photography Awards.

Grow House collects a number of projects which propose to bring agriculture out of the fields at the periphery of town and into the centre of our houses, cities and factories.