Meet the Labbers: Hildreth England

MIT Media Lab/Margaret Evans

In our ongoing audio series, Meet the Labbers, we hear people from all roles across the Media Lab talk about what they do and why they do it.

Today, meet Hildreth England. 

"I am Hildreth England. I’m the program coordinator for the OpenAg initiative, and we’re focused on one particular question, which is … how can we improve the food system by creating an open source hardware, software, and data common that will allow easier access and lower barrier to entry to farming? We’re trying to create the next farmer to feed nine billion people in the world by the year 2050. It’s an ambitious project; it’s a small team with a really big goal. OpenAg is literally a grass roots effort.

We are entirely open source, and this is a novel concept right now in agricultural technology and even a little bit in food technology as well. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m excited to be part of it, because when we talk about open source, you’re really kind of levelling up beyond the hardware and the software and the data bases; you’re talking about taking those aspects and making them accessible to anybody. You don’t have to have coded anything in your life; you don’t have to have used open source technology ever. And, I think to be able to bridge the technology across all those different people is going to be really exciting, because you add this super human element to create these new farmers. In the next five years, I see us really engaging with a robust community.

We’re kind of a kitchen, if you will, which is great because that’s the stuff that I love.

Food definitely brings people together, which I suppose is part of why, when we start talking about food and technology, plenty of people are willing to get involved in that conversation. (laughs) We’re kind of a kitchen, if you will, which is great because that’s the stuff that I love, you know—that’s why I started working in food in the first place. And I think it’s time that a group like OpenAg exist in a place like the Media Lab, because if there are any brains in the world that can solve something as large a problem as food, I feel like the Media Lab is the place to do it.”  

UPDATE:  Since Hildreth England recorded this interview, she became the assistant director of OpenAg.

              Music: "Morning Over the City" by Andrey Khatsko

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