What's a Hackathon anyway?

Well we have some exciting news.  A few weeks ago our awesome friends/neighbors/partners at LeftCoast GrassFed and TomKat Ranch invited us to come with them to attend and spectate a hackathon at the Stanford Design School.

After figuring out what a hackathon was, we were intrigued by the idea of the event because it was a "Meat Hack."  While we didn't know what to expect, a room full of designers, programmers, and all around geniuses tackling some of the big challenges facing sustainable meat production had some real promise.

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The event was called Hack//Meat Silicon Valley and Shae and I debated over who should go.  In the end she graciously let me go and watched the farm and our son for the weekend. 

After I arrived it really seemed as though my biggest contribution would be answering questions for the amazing minds that I was surrounded by.  After all, only a handful of farmers were in attendance.

However, one of biggest sponsors and organizers of the event, Applegate, had a challenge that seemed to hit close to home.  As I sat watching their CEO present his case for why he thought the world needed to help young and aspiring farmers find land, I relived the long and at times silly journey we took to get to TomKat Ranch.  I decided I would at least pop into that challenge's room and let people know about the really amazing and innovative Multi-Steward lease we developed with TomKat where we get to run our poultry on the pastures after LeftCoast GrassFed's cows have passed through.

What was a bit disheartening was that after I gave the pitch only three attendees out of a room of a couple dozen walked over to learn more.  Wendy from TomKat and I talked them through the basic premise of how young farmers who were having a hard time finding land might have better luck if they could stack their enterprises onto an existing farms operations like we did with LeftCoast.

They seemed to be really interested and saw that this could at the very least open up a bunch of new opportunities for aspiring farmers and at the very most revolutionize food.  As one of them put it, "It's like Air B&Beef or eFarmony!"

We worked a while on the pitch and after presenting it to the folks at Applegate, we were energized and shocked to hear their CEO describe our idea as "the future of farming." 

So all of a sudden our plan to sort of float around over the weekend and help other teams turned into a 48 hour marathon to put together the design and proposal for a self-sustaining organization that could take well-trained and would-be farmers and pair them with opportunities on underutilized land. 

I can see I'm running a bit long on the story, so I'll skip ahead to the end and say that our little idea that we affectionately call FarmStacker won the Grand Prize and now we are working with a lot of very smart people and interested investors to get the idea off the ground and get some inspired farmers on the ground! 

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What's so great too is that the other teams at the event came up with some truly stellar technologies and ideas that we think will be instrumental to the success of FarmStacker in the short and long run.  So in the end, just like in modern ecological farming, it would appear that success will come out of collaboration instead of competition. 

The website like idea is brandnew, but boy is it gaining momentum.  Check out the website at www.FarmStacker.com

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