Alex Bayley is an Australian software developer and avid gardener. When she looked online for information about growing food in her area, she came up short. Having worked with open data since 2007, Bayley understood the power of shared information, so she set up Growstuff, an online, crowdsourced repository for backyard gardeners around the world.
Growstuff provides information gathered from local gardeners on crop-planting times, best-suited varietals, and more for the regions growers calls home. It’s sort of a Farmer’s Almanac for the 21st century. Bayley emphasizes Growstuff’s people power: "Local growers know when to plant things and what grows best in the local environment. What works in the U.S. or Europe won’t work here, and vice versa. The trick is to find out what people nearby are growing. If they’re planting tomatoes this month, you want to do that, too."
Unlike most of the online data available today, Growstuff’s data and API are open-source and available under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA) license. That means, in addition to local growers, other software developers and researchers can also tap into the common wisdom. Bayley notes, "A lot of food-growing information is locked up under restrictive licenses. We want to see more innovation around food data, and that means sharing information freely."
Growstuff is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise $20,000 to pay for additional development of the project.