GrowBot Garden

Carl DiSalvo, Laura Fries, Thomas Lodato, Beth Schechter, Thomas Barnwell.

Ladybug, Seek and Destroy

The GrowBot Garden project was structured around a series of public and participatory workshops that brought together diverse constituencies to critically think about, discuss, and debate, agricultural technologies for small-scale agriculture. The workshops drew equally from practices of participatory design, critical design, social practice art, and DIY culture. More than a discursive platform, the workshops were design platforms: opportunities to collectively make speculative representations and prototypes of possible futures. These representations and prototypes were documented and shared through public forums to provoke consideration of new assemblages that might emerge at the intersection of technology and agriculture.

The project included multiple site visits to farms and dairies in the Atlanta region, two outreach events and three design workshops in Atlanta, and 10 consecutive days of workshops and exhibition as part of the 2010 01SJ Biennial in San Jose, CA.

GrowBot Symposium, May 2010

In May 2010 we hosted the GrowBot Garden symposium, in Atlanta, GA. This day long design workshop brought together designers, researchers, small-scale farmers, and other stakeholders to collaboratively explore possible uses of robotics and sensing for small-scale agriculture through lo-fidelity prototyping.

CucumberBot Symposium, June 2010


In June 2010 we hosted the CucumberBot symposium, in Atlanta, GA. Building of our May workshop this workshop asked two questions: 1) What happens if we narrow the scope of discussions around agricultural robotics to a single plant? and 2) Could we develop a workshop that was shorter in length than our May Symposium, but still accomplished our goals of informed co-design? The CucumberBot symposium thus focused discussion and design upon cucumbers, a common plant for beginning gardeners, and one growing in abundance in Georgia during June.

GrowBot Garden at 01SJ Biennial, September 2010


For two weeks in September 2010 we participated in the 01SJ Biennial–the largest and most prestigious media arts festival in North America. We were commissioned to participate in the Out of The Garage, Into the World program, which was focused on “the blurred boundaries between garage hacking and citizen science.” During the week prior to the official festival and throughout the festival we hosted a series of speculative design workshops that invited participates to experiment with us in the design and testing of alternate technologies for small-scale agriculture. In addition to developing the workshops and the prototyping platforms for the workshops, we also developed an ad-hoc research studio space within the exhibition hall. Over the course of the event, we engaged 100s of participants in daily workshops and drop-in DIY design activities.