Dream Team Sixteen

The immediate goal of the Factor e Farm experiment is to produce the GVCS 50 – a set of 50 industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts. To this end – we are currently building a team. In the last blog post, I discussed the immediate team needs for Factor e Farm (FeF). In this post, I expand on the FeF core team requirements for the next 18 months. Here I put forth an attempt to define the key enabling roles that need to be filled at FeF – towards a prototyping effort of the 50 GVCS tools – leveraging both on-site prototyping and remote global collaboration – toward finishing these 50 tools by January, 2013.

The list – including general responsibilities – is:

  1. 3 Project Managers – overall global/local project management and integration– utilizing the assistance of a global development team to move forward the creation and testing of the GVCS infrastructure at Factor e Farm
  2. Construction Project Manager– leading the building new of infrastructure as new people come on site, focusing on natural building techniques such as CEB, local lumber, and local biomass for superinsulation, and bioplastic for greenhouses (see last blog post for details)
  3. Machine Designer/CAD – feeds technical design (CAD) into the prototyping process for the GVCS – by providing fabrication drawings to the fabrication team
  4. 4 Fabricators – custom fabricators and prototypers who convert technical design drawings into physical prototypes – creating the physical substance of the project
  5. CAM Expert – contributes to the CAM (fabrication automation) aspect of the prototyping process by developing CAM files and by using CNC machines – while streamlining the fabrication process
  6. Power Engineer – develops the electrical power grid for the community and develops the workshop power supplies – including developing the welder, plasma cutter, induction furnace, inverter, charge controller, and other power electric devices that are included in the GVCS
  7. Remote Collaboration Support – organizing remote contributor teams for design/CAD/prototyping assistance to Factor e Farm
  8. CAD/CAM Programmer – A robust, integrated, open source, professional-quality tool chain for CAD/CAM is currently not available. We will put effort into developing such a tool chain to promote the replicability of GVCS tools, by building on and integrating existing tools.
  9. Land Regeneration Manager – Factor e Farm suffers from serious erosion and fertility issues caused by decades of prior commercial row-cropping. To ameliorate this, our program calls for building berms, ponds, and other earthworks to address erosion directly, plus, extensive mulching, as well as intensive rotational grazing as a rapid way to improve the soil food web. The primary tools that are to be used in these tasks are bulldozers, ruminants, and hay-bales.
  10. Farmer – or more specifically – the open source agroecologist – the pivotal person in the community who provides nutrition to the FeF team and thereby is the primary contibutor to the good health of the community. The open source agroecologist is responsible for food production – from garden and orchard to field crops, animal husbandry, fishery, and forestry – and for food storage and processing, such as seed cleaning, seed saving, and oil expression. The farmer is responsible for producing food, fuel, and fiber crops (both wood and clothing) – while maintaining a diverse and integrated ecosystem and soil food web that improves in quality over time.
  11. Cook – feeds the FeF population; engages in crop planning, harvest, and organization of food processing activities

We are looking for self-motivated, responsible, and mature people to fill the above roles. The absolute requirement is endorsement of open society, open source culture, and open source economic development. All participants are encouraged to learn wiki culture – ie., documenting all significant work on the wiki such that others can build upon it (the saying at FeF is if it’s not on the wiki it doesn’t exist). All participants are encouraged to cross-train in skills outside of their own, and to perform these roles on occasion, and to assist in occasional tasks that are done more effectively as a group (plantout, barnraising, etc.). Below, I comment more on the roles and skill sets required for the above roles (outside of Construction Project Manager and Fabricator, defined in the last post).

1. Project Manager (PM) Requirements

The basic requirements of the PM are technological literacy (especially regarding OSE Specifications), communication, research, and experience in project management.

  1. Technological literacy that allows for a basic functional understanding of the 50 GVCS tools
  2. Basic familiarity with the principles of mechanical devices, microcontrollers, and power electronic devices
  3. Working knowledge of design-for-fabrication, design-for-manufacturability, design-for-disassembly, flexible fabrication, and lifetime design
  4. Technical research and technical writing ability
  5. Excellent communication and networking skills, ability to work the phone, ability to communicate complex topics clearly to non-experts
  6. Team-building capacity – the ability to translate intentions into actionable plans to be carried out by a team
  7. Negotiation and conflict resolution skills – to manage decision forks and breakdowns effectively
  8. Familiarity with contact relationship management (CRM) software and databases
  9. Deep stakeholdership in the outcomes of the GVCS development
  10. Familiarity with diagramming software and conceptual modeling software such as Sketchup or equivalent
  11. Past experience in managing both online projects and live teams
  12. Firm understanding of OSE Specifications and their application to GVCS prototypes – and ability to translate these specifications into explicit design choices

Fig. 1. CEB/Straw hybrid planned for construction in Lodz, Poland, May 2012. Design by Pawel Sroczynski, Architect, Cohabitat Atelier

Project Manager Duties

The main duties of the PM are to solicit design/prototyping offers, to evaluate them, and to pursue the deployment of the best choices towards successful, iterative prototyping of the GVCS tools.

  1. To lead a creative problem-solving approach towards the execution of GVCS prototypes with the assistance of a diverse group of volunteers
  2. In cases where specialized knowledge is requirednd or no volunteers are identified to perform a given task, the duty is to produce results via a bidding process
  3. Preparation of requests for proposals, requests for bids, and bid contracts
  4. Bid evaluation, assessment of designs, assessment of proposals – for adherence to OSE Specifications
  5. Awarding of bids, contracts, and other disbursement decision-making regarding GVCS prototype deployment, with approval of Project Director
  6. Researching existing collaboration platforms and available tools – towards defining a scalable, open source product development platform – and documenting/developing this platform towards a replicable development model
  7. To collaborate with other FeF members on machine design needs

3. Machine Designer/CAD Requirements

  1. The basic requirement is familiarity with standard machine design principles
  2. Familiarity with mechanical engineering, power electronics, and precision drive system design
  3. Familiarity with machine design – mechanisms, performance calculations
  4. Familiarity with heavy equipment, including farm and construction machinery
  5. Ability to specify and source materials
  6. Familiarity with design for manufacturability and ability to translate OSE Specifications to specifications of individual GVCS machines
  7. Experience with professional CAD software

 Machine Designer/CAD Duties

  1. Researching industry standards and redesigning machines to meet OSE Specifications
  2. Producing 3D technical drawings using professional CAD software
  3. Generating BOM and sourcing information and producing materials and fabrication budgets
  4. Producing 2D fabrication drawings for buildout by the fabrication team
  5. Iterating design based on results from field testing
  6. To collaborate with the CAM Expert on optimizing design-for-manufacturability
  7. To collaborate with other members of the FeF team on machine requirements

Fig. 2. OSE workshop, build planned for September, 2011. Design by David Ihnen.

 5. CAM Expert Requirements

  1. Expertise in CAM applied to 3D printing, circuit milling, precision machining, torch cutting, industrial robots, and other applications
  2. Understanding of toolpath generation requirements and considerations for a wide array of workshop machines
  3. Familiarity with Python or other suitable scripting language for toolchain integration

CAM Expert Duties

  1. To produce CAM files for GVCS machines
  2. To organize and maintain a freely-accessible design repository
  3. To optimize existing CAD/CAM tool-chains by building on existing modules and source code
  4. To assess and to communicate toolchain integration needs to the CAD/CAM Programmer – in order to develop a more integrated solution in the longer term

6. Power Engineer Requirements

  1. Mastery of power electronics practice
  2. Ability to produce electrical circuit schematics
  3. Ability to fabricate circuits with a CNC circuit mill
  4. Ability to outsource circuits for fabrication
  5. Understanding of OSE specifications and how to apply them to electronics design
  6. Familiarity with power supplies, inverters, chargers, and controllers related to the GVCS
  7. Familiarity with 1-phase and 3-phase power systems
  8. Familiarity with electrical generators and electric motors, and their design
  9. Familiarity with renewable power generation systems

Power Engineer Duties

  1. To assess and produce a strategy for off-grid workshop and facility power generation and distribution at Factor e Farm
  2. To design 1 phase and 3 phase inverters
  3. To define a practical functional component breakdown and implementation of the Universal Power Supply
  4. To produce designs for modular, scalable power electronics functional units for the Universal Power Supply
  5. To design the electronics for fabrication with the CNC Circuit Mill
  6. To build the CNC Circuit Mill
  7. To define, specify, design, and build an infrastructure for producing circuits, power electronics devices, and their housings – at Factor e Farm – ie, a power electronics lab
  8. To build all prototypes of GVCS power electronics devices using the fabrication capacities of FeF

7. Remote Collaboration Support Requirements

  1. Strong team-building ability and good communication skills
  2. Conflict resolution skills
  3. Technological literacy regarding the GVCS and OSE Specifications

Remote Collaboration Support Duties

  1. To build a remote collaboration team for design, CAD, and documentation functions
  2. To communicate with other FeF team members regarding development and support needs
  3. To build and maintain database and contact relationship management system of the remote collaboration team
  4. Developing a platform for effective remote collaboration with FeF

8. CAD/CAM Programmer

We have recently identified a major global collaboration barrier for distributed, open source machine design: the lack of an effective CAD platform. Moreover, CAM toolchains are complex and poorly evolved in the open source community. In the proprietary community, both CAD and CAM solutions are expensive. We have experienced this first-hand: frustrations with non-backward compatibility of a certain leading professional CAD package while collaborating with remote developers. Moreover, we are currently using 4 pieces of software to run CAM with the CNC torch table.

An integrated solution for CAD/CAM is required, as its lack is a formidable barrier to both efficient collaboration and efficient production. We feel that this puts a severe limit on the replicability/development of the GVCS. We feel that developing a professional quality, optimized toolchain for CAD/CAM is a prerequisite from the standpoint of viral replication of the GVCS. Thus, we would like to expend energy on this issue by recruiting an on-site programmer to dedicate their time for 1-2 human-years of labor to build upon existing toolchains to create the foundations of a robust solution.

CAD/CAM Programmer Requirements

  1. Familiarity with a wide range of programming languages and operating environments
  2. Creative problem-solving ability to address interoperability issues
  3. Intimate familiarity with existing CAD/CAM solutions
  4. Experience in CAM
  5. Hands-on experience with a wide variety of workshop tools

CAD/CAM Programmer Duties

  1. Focusing on utilizing existing CAM/CAD solutions, libraries, modules and linking them together via scripts or other techniques
  2. Creation of a modular CAD/CAM Construction Set solution – where the user selects and customizes the modules for their particular implementation of the CAD/CAM solution
  3. Design for maximal modularity by modifying existing modules for interoperability
  4. Using the Linux kernel as the development platform

9. Land Regeneration Manager – Requirements

  1. Experience in heavy equipment operation, including bulldozing, hay baling, combining, plowing, berming, well-drilling, and pond digging
  2. Capacity to perform site analysis and surveys
  3. Basic familiarity with geology, soil science, and the soil food web
  4. Ability to maintain heavy eqiupment
  5. Workshop experience in fixing, modifying, and building heavy equipment
  6. Familiarity with principles of open source agroecology
  7. Skills in animal husbandry, especially ruminants
  8. Field cropping experience


  1. To design and build berms and swales for the 30 acres of Factor e farm to prevent erosion and flooding
  2. To manage livestock in an intensive rotational grazing (mob grazing) as part of a fertility-building strategy
  3. Bulldozing ponds and other earthworks for water capture and management
  4. Installing gravity-feed irrigation systems
  5. Planting trees and orchards to optimize perennial polyculture cropping
  6. Establish orchards, edible forests, and prairie ecosystems
  7. Design and plant out windbreaks, agroforestry trees, perennial polyculture food crops, habitat restoration zones including bathouses, and other useful plantings

Farmer Requirements

  1. Wide range of experience in mechanical equipment use, maintenance, and familiarity with equipment design
  2. Custom fabrication experience to fix, modify, design, and build additional mechanical equipment as needs arise
  3. Wide range of experience in agriculture – garden planting, integrated pest management, field cropping, raised beds, organoponics, aquaculture, chinampa systems, soil food webs, mycoculture, apiculture, animal husbandry, dairy and meat production, butchering, plant propagation, orcharding, seed saving, crop harvesting and processing
  4. Experience in forestry – sustainable forest management, lumber production, and mastery of the chainsaw
  5. Greenhouse experience for year-round food production, and understanding of food preservation techniques

Fig. 3. Conceptual design of dimensional sawmill, build planned for August, 2011. Design by Marcin Jakubowski and Bill Nettles; Sketchup model by Chris Fornof.

Farmer Duties

  1. To provide the option of a 100% local, balanced, year-round, seasonal, organic diet to the FeF community as the first step to good health for anyone in the FeF community who is interested in this option
  2. Generate surplus food for other purposes or for external markets
  3. To guide individuals in harvest and plantout and select food-processing tasks related to the local diet option
  4. To produce biomass pellet fuel for heating and power generation for the community
  5. Lead workshops on replication of integrated agriculture operations
  6. To propagate plants and to save seeds, and to maintain a seed bank
  7. To produce lumber and fiber for cloth as needed
  8. Carry out nursery propagation of any stock needed by the Land Regeneration Manager

Cook Requirements

  1. Familiarity with a wide range of cuisines and cooking methods, and especially Indian and Nepalese cooking
  2. Ability to organize a kitchen, plan meals, harvest, and to budget for any ingredients not provided on-site
  3. Teaching workshops on cooking to the community and to outside audiences

Cook Duties

  1. To provide a lunch and dinner option to the FeF community daily – to anyone interested in enjoying a 100% local, organic, balanced, year-round diet
  2. To harvest from all on-site resources, including wildcrafting and hunting – and preparing/processing/storing the foodstuffs
  3. To call for assistance from the FeF community in select food preparation tasks if needed
  4. To document the yields and caloric production/uptake of the community, and publishing results related to the replicability, costs, and ergonomics of 100% local, organic diets
  5. To facilitate replicability of such diets in other communities by documenting the process, tools, ergonomics, and other issues related to such replication
  6. To optimize the delivery of the above option by constant improvement of the processes related to the processing, preparation, use, and storage of foodstuffs
  7. To produce video documentation on the FeF local food experiment
  8. To assist the Farmer in maintaining a seed bank
  9. Using a wide array of food processing equipment, such as oil expression, flour grinding, pasta-making, dairy products, dehydration, freeze-drying of fruit powders, baking, fermenting, honey extraction, vinegar production, seed shelling, sorghum syrup pressing, and many others.

Note: this is our present understanding, and it may change at any time with experience. Further note: the list above does not contain the fundraising function – because this effort is currently being led by Viveik, Robert with OSE-Europe, and Isaiah off site.

As in the last post – I make the following disclaimer: the role descriptions are quite demanding. While there may be very few people that can fill the roles described – our goal is to be clear that we need to seed Factor e Farm with as much skill as possible. With a critical skill density – we may be able to succeed in building the world’s first, experimental, post-scarcity community. Others can then replicate the experiment much more easily once the pioneering work is done  – and we would like to help.

A single working example can and will change the world.


  1. julia

    If you would really like to address soil fertility issues in a swift and wholistic manner, I would reccomend looking into the work of the Amish Agronimis John Kempf. He does intensive short term grazing cycles in small areas. Moving the animals frequently to small fenced pasture areas. This is an interesting article that I dug up quickly . He writes for ACRES and has a regular speaking circuit. What he does works and there’s much more to his work than what is mentioned above. CHeck it out.

  2. Allen

    Is there any specific reason for requiring the cook to have “Familiarity with a wide range of cuisines and cooking methods, and especially Indian and Nepalese cooking”?

    (Other than you or other staff may have favorites in this area?)

  3. Jeff Rust

    I would like to be added to a newsletter or something pertaining to the update of this dream team.

    I am also wondering if there is space for volunteers?

    Is there availability for room and board for any volunteers ?

    Are you currently posting these positions on any NGO/NPO websites for job opportunities/ volunteer opportunities ?

  4. Julian Todd

    The CAM industry (the major customers in particular) is extremely unenlightened with regards to open source principles and advantages. It’s not that they are against it, it’s that it’s not even a question that is ever asked — even for the most trivial components. We should have had free open source post-processors 20 years ago shared across everywhere, but still don’t. The programmers are utterly disconnected from the users.

    The only open source CAM I can recommend is heeksCAD, from a guy who used to work as a coder for one of the companies in the UK. Please use it and give it your support.

  5. […] Hi there, I’m one week into my month-long stay at Factor-E Farm for a Dedicated Project Visit in Documentation. I’ll be picking up where the talented Ian Midgley left off, working on documentation for the Christmas Gift To The World as well as a recruitment video for the OSE Dream Team. […]