Makerspaces and Farmers' Markets Converge

How makerspaces are transforming into community centers where technology & people converge.

August 4, 2016 | ProgressTH  We recently got a chance to finally visit FabCafe Bangkok's monthly FabFarm farmers' market. Several have been organized so far, and more are yet to come.

Due to limited space, it is a relatively small farmers' market, lining the driveway into FabCafe. Around 10 or so vendors participated, but the event attracts a wide range of people from both the cozy urban neighbor FabCafe is situated in, to friends and acquaintances of FabCafe's growing network from all over Bangkok and surrounding provinces.

At least one vendor came from as far as Phetchaburi, about two hours away.

And despite its small size, it represents something very significant.

When last we wrote about FabCafe in 2015, one of its founders, Chutayaves Sinthuphan, shared with us the vision he and the rest of the FabCafe team had of creating a sort of local institution. We wrote:
Chutayaves sees a plausible future where people enjoy multiple interests, combining them together, and establishing highly localized communities thriving in self-sufficiency. Businesses and institutions like FabCafes and Fab Labs today, might become nodes in a patchwork of localized communities tomorrow.
A little over a year and a half later, that is most certainly what is happening at FabCafe now. Not only are designers, engineers, architects, and artists converging at FabCafe as one would expect at a makerspace, but now also farmers and the community attracted by organic farmers' markets are there too.

On the left, organic limes we bought at the FabFarm event versus smaller and much more expensive store-bought limes on the right. Not only is community being built up by the convergences happening at makerspaces, there are definite economic benefits as well.
But FabCafe isn't stopping at simply hosting a farmers' market. They're also looking for a way to leverage the technology and technical talent found at makerspaces to advance organic agriculture.

Already, FabCafe introduced vendors to the tools used in personal manufacturing (i.e. laser cutters, 3D printing etc.) and attempts have already been made to apply it to packaging used by vendors.

Next, FabCafe plans to hold an event called Farm Hack. The October 15-16 event description reads:
FabCafe Bangkok would like to invite designers, makers, and hackers to join our local farmers in the 2-day hackathon. Let's turn things around us into farmer tools!
With the hackathon, FabCafe is bringing the maker community an opportunity to better define its role in society as not only a space to learn and play, but also a space to make things that matter.

The collaborations being forged as various interests converge locally at FabCafe and other makerspaces around the country, will continue to expand until many areas, from agriculture to healthcare and from energy to education, begin fully tapping into these new local institutions and those envisioned localized communities thriving in self-sufficiency become a fully realized reality.

Follow on Facebook here or on Twitter here.