Graduate Student Adam Calo and Team Win Big Ideas Prize

May 31, 2017

Congratulations to graduate student Adam Calo and his team, whose project won first prize in the Big Ideas @ Berkeley competition in the category of Food System Innovations! 

About the Project:

Farmview: New Power for Tenant Farmers

In California, just as low-income residents struggle to find affordable housing, farmers also face a cutthroat farmland rental market. If beginning farmers can’t find land for agriculture, then the ‘young farmer movement’ is a pipe dream. In California, 41 percent of all farmland is rented out to others, and new tenants face exorbitant rental prices, lands of poor quality, and predatory leases. There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage emerging data science and geographic information system methods to address the land access issue. In collaboration with California Farmlink, a farming direct service provider, Farmview is a tool that assists beginning farmers in the acquisition of farmland.  Farmview combines public data about land ownership with local knowledge contributed by farmers to show farmers the location of available land and its associated attributes. This project will run workshops with farmers in California, conduct user testing, and roll out a statewide tool.
A screenshot of farm view software.

Screenshot courtesy of Adam Calo. 

pilot version of Farmview is now available, and with their Big Ideas prize money, Calo and his collaborators plan to field test the tool with beginning farmers in a series of interactive land-access workshops. After making feature improvements to match aspiring farmer’s needs, the team plans to expand the tool’s reach to key agricultural regions across California.

Farmview is an extension of work Calo started with the support of a seed grant from the Berkeley Food Institute.

Big Ideas is an annual contest aimed at providing funding, support, and encouragement to interdisciplinary teams of students who have “big ideas.” In November 2016, the contest received a record number of pre-proposal applications from 326 student teams, representing over 1,000 students across 16 campuses. After a preliminary round and a final review, 44 teams were awarded prizes across nine different categories, with award amounts ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

Read more about the contest and all the 2017 Big Ideas winners