Aaron Makaruk

Open designs for sustainable urban farming

The Big Idea

The way we produce, distribute and consume food is in dire need of change. Mass food production is an intensive drain on resources, and cannot be the answer while feast and famine co-exist within a square mile of each other and our relationship with natural food sources is becoming ever more distant. Aaron Makaruk came to the fellowship with an idea to re-connect us with food by making urban farming easier and more affordable.

Aaron’s project was AKER Kits, a set of open source methodologies, designs and snap-fit products enabling citizens more opportunity to start growing food on their own terms. He explored themes such as self-sufficiency, the relationship between food cycles and the environment, and everyday consumption.

Why We Funded

Highlights and outcomes:

Aaron and the AKER Kits team created an extensive range of simple, open source garden kit designs, available in physical form - made from ecologically sound materials - or via download for DIY building. These products included raised beds, wall planters and composters. However, while the kits proved reasonably popular, they did not sufficiently make the argument for engagement: in practice, people were not motivated to make the effort required to tend an urban garden.

It soon became clear that pushing for behavioral change around food production required an alternative strategy. Aaron continued work on AKER Kits for a little while after his fellowship came to an end. But after reassessing where he could make the most positive and significant change, switched his focus to its sister project, OS Beehives: a global network of citizen scientists measuring and reporting the health of bee populations around the world.

At the time of writing, OS Beehives is enjoying considerable success, with significant press coverage in recent years. Aaron’s thoughtful approach continues to inspire others to think differently and more sustainably about the world around us.

Aaron on the Shuttleworth Foundation:

“The Foundation is an extremely important organisation filled with brilliant people who care about what they are doing.

“If you have a project that is high quality, trying to use tech for the better good, and are questioning whether you should apply, then stop right there. Because you should.”

Flash Grants

Jack Kelly
Guillaume Tess
Jonathan Minchin
Gregoire Durrens
Daniel Kruse