project leader
Audrey B
195B N 14th St
Brooklyn (Williamsburg / Greenpoint)
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the project

We are designing and fabricating a family of agricultural machines for NYC urban farms and gardens, with a specific focus on composting.  These machines use human energy instead of non-renewable resources to make the process of composting faster, easier, healthier and fun.  The family is made up of the:

 dry Shredder  -- it breaks down fallen leaves into even particle sizes.  This helps all compostable matter breakdown at the same rate, making the process of composting more efficient.

wet Shredder – similar to the dry Shredder, except that it chops up weeds and other green waste from the garden and kitchen.  This is the hardest material to break down in the composting process, so the more it's broken down before hand, the faster it will become compost.

compost Sifter – at the end of the composting cycle, the sifter helps to separate the fine aspects of the soil from the larger pieces, such as twigs and avocado pits, leaving the fine finished soil to be used all over the city in urban farms and community gardens.

We are working hard on these machines in order to create a set of well-made, efficient, locally produced, affordable products that are appropriately scaled to the cities they are designed for.  Our machines require the work of multiple people at the same time in order for them to run properly, bringing people together, sweating collectively towards a similar goal.  At the same time, they are using their bodies to assist in the composting process, making them healthier and learning about what compost is and why we should work to make it happen!

the steps

We are in the process of working on the beta prototype of our dry shredder.  Our first prototype has some inefficiencies that we hope to overcome, especially by making the work exerted by the human more productive.   We need to spend more time re-developing the design of the machine, fabricate it and have it tested at Compost for Brooklyn, a community composting project based in Kensington, Brooklyn.

The compost Sifter has been designed but we still need to purchase few more parts before we can fabricate it.  It will then be tested at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and PS 32. 

We would like to begin preliminary research on the wet shredder and this requires some more human power added to our team.

There is a lot of work to do before we have a set of viable products, but we have chosen to share the steps we will be taking to complete the most immediate aspects of our project.

why we're doing it

We are working with our community to create these human-powered agricultural machines because we believe that this way of collaborating will allow us to create the best product we can make.  By having their bodies use our machines gives us the most direct and real feedback we could ever want.  Not only can we go to their site and see them using the shredder with various volunteers, but we can transport it back and forth quickly as we make tweaks and adjustments. 

Our goal is to design, fabricate AND scale these machines appropriately to the cities in which they exist.  Most farming and gardening tools / equipment are made for small and large scale sites, but our intention is to create machines for the space that’s left unexplored, everywhere in between! 

During our design process, we do our best to incorporate existing materials and parts, adaptively re-using whatever we can when it is appropriate.  We believe that there is a lot of usable material that sits unused or gets thrown away, and we want to try and minimize the beneficial waste by designing it into our products.  Some examples of “waste” we’ve used are: exercise bicycles, push reel mowers, skateboard wheels, and bicycle rims.  We see this as a way of composting non-organic matter.

Lastly, we choose to use human power because we believe this is the most fitting form of energy to use in order to power these machines.  Given the cost and reliance upon non-renewable resources, we strive to provide an alternative, freeing our community from dependence on fossil fuels, and ultimately providing another option that’s free, fun, health-conscious and enriches our local communities. 



Shredder Beta Prototype

Frame Components: $300

Mechanical Components: $500

Fabrication Labor: $1000


Sifter Alpha Prototype

Exerbike modification: $200

Frame components: $500


Wet Shredder Research

Labor: $300


Rent + Utilites


Subtotal = $5,000

ioby materials and labor = $35

Third party credit card processing (3%) = $150

TOTAL = $5,185


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