ITLG and CoderDojo pioneer farms of the future in rural California

19 Dec 2012

Forget smart cities, think smart farms. The ITLG has revealed it is engaged with several Irish and US universities on a new ‘smart farms’ initiative combining the efforts of the Steinbeck Cluster in rural California and its local CoderDojo aimed at regional regeneration and setting in motion the farms of the future.

The Steinbeck Innovation Cluster aims to create dozens of new businesses and potentially thousands of new jobs in and around Salinas, a region in rural California, south of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Focused on four pillars of activity – education, incubation, investment and corporate engagement – it has already begun by training hundreds of local youth through CoderDojo Salinas, which it sees as a component of its innovation strategy.

The cluster will launch the region’s first Kauffman Foundation entrepreneurship programme in 2013 and is partnered with Hartnell College on advanced research programmes related to smart farms.

The initiative was co-founded by the outgoing Mayor of Salinas Dennis Donohoe and the co-founder and president of the ITLG John Hartnett.

“The world’s innovation experts have been focused on smart cities. We’re shifting that focus to smart farms,” Hartnett explained.

“We see a future for precision agriculture, viticulture and aquaculture, in which our farms and watersheds will become centres for innovation that will change the way we address the world’s water, energy, waste and labour challenges.

“Smart Farms and smart vineyards will use the latest technology and smart innovation for a better future.”

The Steinbeck Innovation cluster was inspired by the work of US Navy Capt Wayne Porter, who has argued that the Central Coast/Salinas Valley region has all the characteristics found in industrial clusters globally, including education, a labour force and nearby capital investment.

Farm of the future image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years