The Farm Bill Hackathon

This past weekend, a few dozen people gathered in NYC to hack the Farm Bill.  Hackathons are gatherings of developers, designers and policy experts to collaboratively develop solutions to specific problems.  This year's International Open Data Hackathon took place on December 3 with events all over the world focused on topics like transportation, exposing government data and much more.

Food+Tech Connect and Gojee organized the NYC event with the goal of engaging people with the farm bill by creating participatory apps, data visualizations and presentations to directly and indirectly affect our understanding of this important piece of legislation, renegotiated roughly every five years.  The bill affects everything from crop subsidization to federal nutritional programs to investment in farmers.  You can read more about the bill here, and find ways to get involved via Slow Food USA here.

I participated on one of the teams to build, a way to promote and engage people with the Meatless Monday campaign by tracking their activity related to the campaign and recommending additional resources like recipes, restaurants and the policy impact of their choices.  The team would like to develop the application further in coming months.  The current functionality tracks users' Twitter streams for posts related to the campaign, and we'd like to add more interactive features such as points, personal challenges, geo-based restaurant recommendations and recipe sharing.  Check out some of the other winning projects here!

Note: This post originally appeared on, a web site I voluntarily re-built and managed this year until recently.  Though I'd resigned from the board recently, I thought it would be useful to cover a topic the group hadn't touched.  You can check out more coverage of the event and some neat infographics on Grist.

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