5:15PM Jan 13, 2022
with one another to towards continual improvement. Laura mentioned a number of the upcoming webinar series I want to mention that again, you'll hear the some of the terms perhaps today a little bit. Things like the Ag data, wallet, data sovereignty, the environmental claims clearing house and and other concepts like that. So I want to sort of just prime you that there's more coming for more detail. Things like the digital coffee shop, those are going to need definitions. But they're very exciting concepts that have come from our work with our community. And as the series unfolds, we hope that you'll come back to pick the areas that are most exciting as mentioned, whether it's soil health, or data interoperability and architecture or the equity and practice, work or bringing that all together in terms of our community platform as we break down the silos. So we really welcome your participation today and throughout the series and excited to have you join us on the shared journey. And with that, I'd really pleased to hand the reins over for this conversation to Steve Francis of Tech Matters and this exciting panel of folks from across the OpenTEAM ecosystem to set the stage for us, Steve.
Thank you Dorn. Really the goal of this panel and the meeting today is to introduce some of the core concepts and issues that that we're grappling with within the OpenTEAM community. We all feel new, I think you know, I've been working with OpenTEAM for a year now and it still feels like a new and exciting thing to me. But I work for Tech Matters, which is a nonprofit software company which builds open source software platforms for social good in general. At Tech Matters. I lead the Toronto project which has the goal of enhancing the ability of community leaders around the world to plan fund and execute sustainable and regenerative development projects. We joined OpenTEAM Because in our minds that serves as a model for really bringing together farmers data and these best scientific practices that Dorn referred to for the good of the land. For the good of the people who care for it, and for the whole world which really benefits from their stewardship. OpenTEAM brings together as you've heard people in organizations that might not ordinarily talk to each other and and so these archetypes of different different types of people. So we we have on the panel today people who are are very much Renaissance people and have multiple skills but but represent farmers and science and software development and food companies so let's let's jump in Jane Kuhn who works on Stonyfield sustainable agriculture initiatives. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks, Steve. Um, my career really began on the food production side of things I farmed real crops and tree fruits. For 10 seasons, went back to business school. And while in grad school, I found my way to Stonyfield where I've been supporting various sustainable ag initiatives. Stonyfield set ScienceBase target to reduce emissions 30% by 2030. And we know that 48% of our carbon footprint comes from emissions at the farm level. So my work at Stonyfield has really been focused on helping them achieve this targets specifically through the agricultural side of their supply chain. And we really leaned on and engaged with OpenTEAM to help get us there. We started in 2020, with a group of six farms in our direct supply who are piloting OpenTEAM tools last year, this group and increased to 10 farms, and we've been working with a pellet of tools in the OpenTEAM community that really fall into three categories. The first is farm management record keeping. The second is greenhouse gas modeling. And the third camp is soil sampling. So in the first couple of years, the focus has really been on establishing baselines to get baseline data and understanding of where things are. And the hope is to obtain a better understanding of the impacts that grazing management decisions have on soil health and soil carbon sequestration, and to be able to track and encourage that change over time. Great,
thank you. Also joining us, Jessica Chartists, who's a soil scientist and educator. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks, Steve. Hi all my name is Jessica charnas. I'm a postdoc actually recently at UC Davis, with the Innovation Institute for Food and Health, working as a fellow for Foodshot Global essentially working with a Venture Capital Group to learn how they do due diligence and find innovative startups and Foodshot Global specifically focused on the food health Nexus, looking at things like soil health, precision protein and their most recent launches called bioactive foods. And so actually I kind of did a reverse trip to Jane I was in high demand or got in business management and corporate sales for five years before discovering agriculture and and coming back to grad school for a PhD in soils and biogeochemistry. And the work I'm doing now with the postdoc is kind of trying to reconnect those two sides of myself to help to bridge the gap between science and industry, science and the populace. I started a small business while I was in grad school, helping nonprofits, businesses and other organizations to develop monitoring protocols and programs for tracking these kind of ecosystem service outcomes that we generate from agriculture. And, and in through that I've been able to get out in the field work with a lot of growers, collecting deep soil samples across the state of California and have been able to then engage with several other projects, which we'll talk about later, a group called regen, one which is kind of a market driven place based, Farmer centered approach to to connecting regenerative growers with purchasers who are looking to support regenerative practices, as well as the CFDA and the California Farm demonstration network, which is a consortium of major agencies around agriculture in the state of California. Similarly, trying to find a way to highlight and elevate the work of the growers who are using soil health or regenerative practices in the state and through through those two, two projects. I've been able to interface with the OpenTEAM ecosystem and look forward to sharing a little bit more about that experience here today.
Great, thank you. And lastly, we have Rick and Gandhi who's a software engineer turned international nonprofit executive. Tell us a little
Thanks, Steve. So I work at an organization called Digital Green, which started 15 years ago initially as a part of Microsoft Research in India, trying to see if there was a role for digital technologies in small scale agriculture systems. And what we largely have focused on for most of these years, is using videos by and for farmers to improve the efficiency of largely public extension systems of ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development across various parts of South Asian and Africa network is scaled to more than 2 million odd farmers. But in the recent past, there's been a real increase of the use of technology amongst even these very small one to two acre farmers. And of course, these same farmers are confronted by the same challenges of climate change, and improvements of sustainability. And so what we've been doing in our collaboration with OpenTEAM is to see how can some of these tools around farmer record keeping using systems like FarmOS O 's, and common data structures be used to drive interoperability for these farmers who are now getting access to a number of agri tech startups and applications of various kinds? And then what we're also doing is to see, are there some common elements about the work that we're doing abroad in South Asia and Africa, that might also be able to contribute to the work that's happening in the US or in the in the global north, so that we can try to create a more generalizable tech stack that can support the various needs and interests of this agricultural tech ecosystem?
That's great. Thank you all and and for everybody else. What we're now going to do is talk about some of the sort of key themes of OpenTEAM and explore the work of our panelists in in greater detail. That the type of people you're hearing from today are very much the people who are participants in OpenTEAM work and OpenTEAM collab Ifans, as you heard described earlier, this idea of, of collaborating together and a mixture of of meetings and Sprint's to try to make progress on some bigger issues that we kind of all face collectively. And for me, this experience of bringing these various viewpoints and and ideas that and information and experiences that I as a technologist don't have to better really understand and grapple with the problems. That's, that's really the the strength of OpenTEAM some of these key themes, trust, interoperability, and and the adaptability to local conditions and needs are kind of what works for if you have questions, please enter them in the q&a at any time. You don't need to wait till the end, but as they occur to you, and then we'll have some time for for addressing questions at the end. So let's start with with really talking about trust. And this idea of collaboration through trust. In order to, to share data and share data is one of the key themes of OpenTEAM how we can build trust around sharing data and trust that the science that you're hearing about that the scientists that you're hearing from are are really the best science out there. It's sometimes there's there's some history to overcome because I think many land stewards many farmers ranchers have been asked to try things in the past have been told about new technologies that might not have always worked out. But reckon your experiences as you've described working with the smallholder farmers across India and Africa, tell us about how how trust and pure connections have have worked out and what can we learn from those experiences?
Yeah, one of the main serve learnings that we've had at Digital Green is just how much knowledge there exists within these farming communities themselves. And how tapping in to those same social networks that farmers already used to share information with their family members with their neighbors about what crops they grow, and how they grow them. How a digital layer needs to build on top of them, not not to disintermediate them or see them as not having value but really build on those existing trust networks. That's where using videos that enable farmers to share a testimonial or demonstrate a new practice to their peers can really be powerful because the first question that farmers asked when they watch these videos, is not about the return on investment, or the emissions that those practices are but rather what's the name of the person in the video, which village is he or she from? And there's work that OpenTEAM is similarly doing with initiatives like the digital coffee shop that Dorn mentioned, which are meant to say that farmers often are meeting at coffee shops to similarly exchange information and then benchmark themselves with their peers to learn where they buy inputs or what practices they follow. How can we digitize that, but how can we do that in a trustworthy way so that the interests of the farmers are protected that their data is protected and it doesn't like leave their hands and they have mechanisms for consent for being able to share this data and that we don't put a lot of burden on these farmers to who are doing their day jobs on the farm and really want to make it easy so that they can enter data once and use it multiple times. As the open team ethos goes
perfect certainly these these ideas of consent and and understanding okay, I'm willing to share data, but what are you going to do with it? And do I have to have my lawyer review this, this data privacy agreement before these these are some of the issues that we've we've grappled with in the OpenTEAM discussions? James Jane and in your work with Stonyfield and its grazing groups, how is how is trust come up and how have you have you been able to build trust?
Well, just to provide a little context about the grazing groups, it's something we started this past year. It's a monthly meeting for the farms in our direct supply who are piloting OpenTEAM. We bring in some technical assistance providers or guest speakers, but the goal is really to foster peer to peer education for farms to share their experience. Throughout the season with the tools or otherwise, and to really maximize our collective learnings from the observations and records being collected. We've aimed it to establish trust through several mechanisms. At this stage of the pilot participation is voluntary farms. opt in, they choose to be in the space and they're compensated for their time. Stonyfield offers an annual stipend for the farms that participate in OpenTEAM. We really try to ensure that the work is topically and logistically farmer driven, making space for discussion at these regular grazing groups, but also at the larger direct supply meetings to talk about why we're doing this and to hear their feedback. It's important to us that we're honest in those discussions that we're learning together alongside of the farms really trying to identify what is the best path towards achieving our greenhouse gas targets in a way that's also beneficial to the farmers. And we're still working to understand where this work fits in with government incentives for climate smart Ag, and or private carbon markets. But the goal is really being able to take advantage of the best incentives that will support farms in improving soil health and tracking those benefits. But throughout all of this, we actively seek and incorporate farmers perspectives on this, and hopefully they see and feel that they are partners in this effort. But it's really an ongoing and active intention.
That's great. Certainly, one of the things that I've noticed in in interacting with other people in the tech community of OpenTEAM, which is is primarily where I personally am engaged. Is this is this true goal of, of not just, you know, we have the software and you should be using it but we have ideas, tell us more about how we can help and there's a genuine desire to be helpful and to to kind of build tools that that can be used effectively and really add value both to the to the farm operation as well as to to the broader global goals of of regenerative work. Jessica, what challenges have you run into in the field with trust?
Yeah, so um, you know, I, I think it it obviously very much depends on the context. There are a lot of regenerative growers or growers implementing soil health management practices who are excited about what they're doing, and they want to share their information with others. And it's kind of as simple as giving them you know, fortunately, we were able to capitalize on the work that OpenTEAM has done in developing their consent language and and how to present that to growers. So for the region, one project I've been working on, we were able to borrow a lot of that great work that was already done. And so for a lot of those growers who are excited about the practices that they're implementing to improve ecosystem services, it's kind of as simple as just checking a box to opt in, you know, with with that project, we have a whole onboarding process where growers give a lot of potentially personal information and and so we give them the option to opt in on everything and so a lot of them want to share that because it kind of builds their, their profile tells more of their story of what they're doing, and they're proud to share that. But there's obviously also some growers who maybe are a little bit more insular and they want to hold that information tightly to their chest. One of the big questions we found was was was a privacy issue for folks was around, you know, their acreage, something that we thought was just part of telling their story, but to them was like, asking what's in their bank account? And so, I think that were, you know, obviously there's a range of different types of information we could be collecting from growers. And then there's a range of different types of growers who are going to be comfortable or not comfortable with sharing different things. So I think where we've landed a lot has been on this allowing people to opt in. And rather than just assuming that this information can be shared, letting them actually check that extra box. But even still, I think that with the California Farm demonstration network project I mentioned which is a group of state agencies, one of the first things we came up against, with this idea of being able to share data and what have you was the Farm Bureau was really concerned about a privacy and that they felt that in the work that they had done communicating with their growers, that that sharing data would be would be a bit of an issue. And I think that that's, that's where what OpenTEAM is doing with the digital copy shop is really valuable. I'm sorry, I should take a step back and say one of the things about the Farm Bureau's feedback, they also were very concerned about, about sharing best practices through this platform, the CFDs because, you know, different trying to figure out what's what's accurate and rigorous information and making sure that you know, kind of what wreckin does, you'll allow the growers to share what they're doing, and they trust each other and they can decide whether they want to use that practice or not. The Farm Bureau is concerned was like if growers are sharing information with growers, how do we know that that's like approved information that's come through the cooperative extension or through NRCS or RCDs. And so I say this not because I have it figured out but because it's a real challenge working with these agencies to say we want to let growers share information openly and let them be the deciders of what they trust them, but they don't trust. And that's where I think it's really beautiful with the coffee shop does because it kind of like levels the playing field that we're not saying that this works and this doesn't work. We're saying this person's doing this in this context. And if you're in a similar context, some more climate soil type cropping system you could try it also and then share what your experiences and so in that open source way we're really building a new type of information set and building trust through the process of just connecting people. And that's something that's still a very scary idea to these agencies, that wants to make sure that rightfully so that as credible, trusted sources of information that they're sharing information that is accurate and isn't going to repeat that Machiavellian dilemma of going and telling people trust this. They try it and it fails and then you know, that has a feedback loop. But I really do believe that. You know, there's there's so much that can be done with the digital environment to build trust, kind of like Rick and mentioned through videos and photos, and things that kind of humanize this whole process. Last thing I'll note is with region one, I mentioned there's this onboarding process that growers go through it creates a profile for them that they can share information with purchasers consumers about what they're doing, and a big thing that's come up through that from the industry side. Back on this trust theme is well how do we know it's verified? You know, how do we know they're actually doing it? It's not just self reported. Which is an interesting dilemma also because we have to move to a place where we can trust farmers to self report. But at the same time when a purchaser is putting money towards a program they want to see the actual results. And so I think things like photos and videos can help us start to reduce the cost of that verification because we can show people look There's my cover crop. Look here's me terminating my cover crop and and not maybe have to always spend 1000s of dollars I mean, we want to collect the data for sure, but not in on every farm where we need to collect that data.
And I guess the last thing that I'll say that touches on on trust is with that region one project, kind of a lesson learned was that we didn't engage enough diversity of growers early on, which I think OpenTEAM has done a really great job with as well. And so and we tried to move too fast because we were under an accelerator framework. And I just want to bring this up because something that came up through that process for me was that I heard someone say that regeneration moves at the speed of trust. And we were an accelerator which is kind of antithetical to that we are trying to move too fast. And I think that the way that OpenTEAM was set up, set these collab a thons and that they engage all these different stakeholders. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is sharing ideas. And so you're moving at that speed of trust, and we can actually get a lot further that way. So
that's great. Well, and and the these ideas of being able to leverage the work of others, you know, Rick talked about building on top of existing social networks building on top of existing knowledge and and just trying to share best practices best knowledge. Jessica, you talked about using OpenTEAM consent language as a as a lever to do the work that you were doing. I think this idea of interoperability and building on top of each other is is another one of these critical core elements of open team that we succeed fastest if we can build together and open source is a key part of that, right because we're we're publishing the the work that we've done. I'm cognizant of the fact that we're a little behind schedule, so we'll, we'll try to maybe move a little faster. But Jane, maybe starting with you what a farmers said about the benefits of using OpenTEAM technology tools that what what advantages do they see?
Yeah, well first, I would say that, you know, learning a new tool, and its interface for anyone just takes time. And this is definitely been true for our pilot farms who have varying levels of experience and comfortability with technology. But I'll say that I am encouraged that despite the learning curve, farmers have offered a lot of positive feedback specifically about record keeping tools, and they're always eager to see soil sample results. benefits that I've heard articulated have been that being able to generate a report from a record keeping tool has helped them with programs they're already involved in like a state sponsored grazing plan or with their organic certification. Aside from the tools I've also heard that it's been helpful simply to connect with other peers. And learn from one another throughout the season. And lastly, I would say another benefit that has come up is sort of, you know, recently we've incorporated some grazing technical assistance providers so that farms can receive individualized guidance interpreting the data that they've been collecting and receive recommendations that are unique to their landscape and business models. So lots of lots of benefits that I've heard and at this stage, I think there's really a lot of interest in sort of the hope and promise of interoperability among the tools. If the record keeping tool could directly push to their organic certification app, as one example, that would give them the benefit of multiple tools without the extra hassles. So any opportunity to increase both efficiency and insight is certainly where the interest is.
Right? Yeah, a lot of the discussion within the technical team is about data sharing and common data models and how we can standardize data to make it easier to interconnect these tools. I think also the this idea of mixing individual guidance with with standard capabilities is a powerful model and certainly something that that we see and you know, it's this, Rick and you also talked about using kind of farm extension as a as a add technology on top of it and so very much this combination of individual help and standard tools to accelerate. Jessica how to best practices and best science come into play in your work.
Yeah, um, again, I think it goes back to like, context, where, you know, the best practices or the best science might depend on, you know, the, the question that you're trying to answer. And so I think like, even within the OpenTEAM ecosystem, you know, there's, there's hub farms where maybe people are doing a lot of monitoring and you maybe want, you know, a high level of rigor and your your standards and your protocols for those sorts of settings. Whereas you may have, you know, not to speak for Stonyfield, but something like a Stonyfield where you have tons of farmers in your supply chain and not every single farm can be monitored at that level, but maybe a growers interested in some, some things that they can be monitoring so that they can, you know, inform their management and track their progress over time. And so I think, I think that this ability to you know, something that OpenTEAM has done really well is helping to develop protocols and standards that people can pull from that are context specific. So you know, you can see like, if I'm trying to enter into a carbon market, you know, how, how, what at what level do I need to be monitoring because especially with things like soil carbon, there's high levels of uncertainty and you know, the the number of samples that it would take to get a scientifically rigorous, you know, statistically relevant result is going to be cost prohibitive in many cases. And so I think, I think being able to come up with what is the best best practice and best standards at this cost at this, you know, at this scale, and in this context, I think has been really helpful. I would say that the from the interoperability perspective, beyond just the actual standards and protocols, the the data input and data sharing, I've benefited greatly from the work with open team and their partner, our psi, which, you know, is developing this common Onboarding Tool that, you know, we've worked with groups from from Maryland, the million acre challenge, I know that there's folks with General Mills that are also sorry, pardon me, my light just went down, that are also working in this space. Sorry, I'm going to be a little dark for a moment. But But yeah, I think that being able to build a question set that can be built upon and shared with others. So that we're all collecting similar information and kind of to Jane's point that someone can enter their data here and maybe it goes directly to their organic application, or if they enter their data into our region, one system, for instance, that other purchases are able to find the purchasers broadly are able to find the information that they're looking for.
Yeah, right. Yeah, no. And Rick, and maybe you can kind of expand on on this concept of the Ag data wallet as as kind of an implementation or a concept around making data flow more easily making data more reusable.
Yeah, a lot of organizations like ourselves, collect data about in for farmers today, for instance, we have data with our government partners through the extension work that we do have more than 2 million farmers in terms of the practices that they do and whatnot. But the real idea with the farmer or agriculture data wallet, is to flip that paradigm so that it's not in the hands of institutions, but really at the individual farmer level, that they can have sovereignty over their own data, and that there can be reusability of that data in a protected way. Whether it's consensual where with who they want to share their data with, because there are many use cases where the same type of field boundary or agronomic practice data could be useful for getting perhaps some payments from the US Department of Agriculture. But perhaps that same data could also be useful for getting a loan from a bank. So rather than that data have to be entered in lots of different systems and lots of different ways and add to the burden of the farmer. Is it an opportunity to create this ag data wallet and with OpenTEAM we're going to be facilitating a public private civil society conversation about how to structure that what is the data structure that should underlie that? What are the data protection rules, and how can we make it both secure for the farmer but also efficient enough so that it can connect to various types of systems? That these farmers are going to want to so that we're not adding to their burdens or others in the ecosystem?
Right? Definitely that that idea that you articulated earlier of kind of, enter once us money. Just gone. Another thing that you mentioned in passing and maybe turn into our last topic of local adaptability, this idea of of starting with common data and or common question sets, but then being able to to adapt and customize for particular local needs. Whether you know, there's there's hyper local variations even within a farm there can be substantial variations and soil type and, and water availability and so forth. But what, what local problems have you faced where the tech ecosystem and OpenTEAM kind of contributed?
Yeah, so I think I mentioned with Region One, that it's a place based initiative. And so we've just started here in California for now, but the idea is to build something that's adaptive to different regions where the onboarding questions can be, you know, relevant to the context that that someone is onboarding in. And so, you know, in California, we might have, you know, different things that we need to ask about practices, for instance, around tillage. Where we have a much different beast with tillage than in other places. Similarly, you know, on the flip side, when we're processing that data, so the the grower onboards into Region One, we give them a profile, and but we also kind of have an associated score. That says where they are on their regenerative journey. And so in order to score appropriately, not only do you need to be asking the right questions for the place in the context, but in order to score appropriately, you need to know what their potential is. And that's again, where that the digital coffee shop, I think is doing great work to both collect the data but also to share back to a grower where they rank, like Rick and mentioned in the beginning of the coffee shop, how they compare to their neighbors. And so, I think that from the the ability to both ask the right questions, so to have common question sets that you can pull from, for specific regions or specific contexts, but then to translate that data back to both growers and to purchasers to say, here's how this person is doing based on what's possible in their in their location or their context. I think that another area where the place based or kind of the the local thing has come up a lot through open, open team has been with the work with Hylo. So Hylo provides this this community platform that folks can go into and and share information with each other. And I think we, for region, one needed a mapping function where we could have all of our growers be able to find each other and by place, so I think working with something like Hylo where they're creating something that's interoperable, we'll have a single sign on where the growers can click on a place on the map and see their profile, but then also say, hey, I want to see other people like this or other other people in this specific region. I think having these tech tools that can kind of start to show things globally, but then also allow people to drill down to their specific location or context for for making appropriate comparisons has been really valuable to that work.
Very good. We're gonna kind of cut this short a little bit so we can get to some audience q&a, but Rick and I, we've mentioned a coffee shop a couple of times. Is there more that that you think it would be helpful to explain about the coffee shop or do you think we've we've kind of
I think the power of it is in terms of, you know, building on these relationships and trust networks that these farming communities already have with one another. And saying that data can sort of further that glue that exists by enabling them on their own terms to share whatever data they want anonymized or not to be able to compare themselves with their peers. And I think there's a real power in in the work that the digital coffee shop initiative with OpenTEAM is developing.
Cool. Yeah, the the, the ability to continue to share is so powerful that turning to some audience questions. The first question I have is establishing trust and sharing data and information within the confines of a particular cooperative or a farmer research network. So a group of people who may be already trust each other is potentially less problematic than then kind of this idea of sharing broadly. I don't know where my information is going. Curious to know if there's OpenTEAM activities related to that context. Anybody want to comment? I Dorne, too, but well, so
I can I can. I can jump. Sorry, I don't know. But I'm going to reference back to some of what the current panelists are doing already, and maybe turn it back over to them because I think a lot of what, you know, particularly writtens comments, but Jessica James too, is that we're building on existing community trusted structures. And that's what the hub and and network structure for OpenTEAM outreach is all about, is not creating new pathways, but building on existing trusted networks, and then starting at a voluntary level to connect them. And so and I think one thing I think that, that maybe reckon you might speak to a little bit I mean, I think you've said it in some ways, but part of the coffee shop concept is that you can choose who you're sharing it with. And that consent management is very important that you don't automatically when you opt in share with everybody. That's some of the nuance that the data wallet and coffee shop is really about. And I think one of the core problem statements that Digital Green is tackling so I'm gonna hand it back over to Rick No.
Problem. Yeah. And I think that there's obviously nuance in terms of the data that we're also talking about. So So farmers like for instance, like even in our case of using videos by him for farmers, farmers love to be role models for fellow farmers and to be featured in these videos. It's a real non monetary incentive to be showcased in these videos in much the same way that you could, perhaps on the coffee shop. But there are other types of data types. That are more sensitive, like for instance, financial records. And so even in a cooperative, there are perhaps nuances with respect to how individual farmer might be willing to share this or that data.
Absolutely. And I would comment on the fact that we kind of within the technology team talk a lot about aggregation and anonymization. So this idea that, although your data is private, if you see your data, if it's combined with lots of other data to for example, there was the example earlier about acreage and you might be sensitive about your acreage or you might be sensitive about your your production per acre, right your productivity, but when it's combined with a bunch of other data, so to create averages or spectrums of what's happening in the county, or broader region this ability to sort of see yourself compared to others without exposing your your own specific data to anyone, right. That's that's the power of aggregation which is one of the forms of anonymization right another another possibility is that you can see farm a from b farms C with without any identifying information. So you can see specifics of Oh, yeah, I can see where that farm is doing certain things better and certain things worse. And I don't know who that is. Right. So, so that's that's an important again, tools that we try to use in extracting power from data while maintaining privacy and, and sovereignty. Anyone else want to comment? Okay, another question. A very technical question. Where does distributed ledger technology, this idea of blockchain and in particular smart contracts fit into OpenTEAM as the world sort of speeds rapidly into applying smart contracts across all sectors, especially finance in 22. And maybe I would start by saying that there are OpenTEAM members that are very focused on blockchain and smart contracts. And there are other OpenTEAM members that are not so much focused on that as a as a central technological lever to be used in solving particular problems. I think there is proper way both some some some very great power in, in using Blockchain in these in these instances and creating records of data and custody. We you know, there was a reference earlier to taking pictures and to using those as kind of proof and demonstration points. Well, if those if those pictures are date stamped and put into a blockchain in a certain day, then you know, that, that that picture was taken at a particular time. And you can't go back and and change it if you've also store a hash of the picture or so forth. So, so it's a way to create more trusted records in a very automatic way. I would also note, though, that that some of what we read in the press is can be a little overhyped. So we're constantly looking for specific value to be delivered within this context so and we have some comments in chat, a speaking to someone who works in so called Web three I can say that the thing about smart contracts is that they are not in fact, smart. Oh, they're not in fact contracts and demonstrate very few if any qualities that can be described as smart. So as you can see, there's some some difference of opinion but, but I think clearly, they're one of the tools that we were pursuing other other comments.
Okay. Oh, jump in again. You're Steve, just to mention that again, a lot. As you mentioned, we have members that are very focused on distributed dubber lever ledger technology and, and the governance of those systems. And that's been and I think a lot of what we've been doing as we talk through the creation of data wallets and sovereignty is like, really looking at what are all the prerequisites for as we create these identities that could work in the web three world and this distributed ledger robot are not necessary, because again, we have a bit of a tension by as we've talked so much about trust in looking at these trustless systems as well as like we're also very placed based in trying to build on existing communities. So I think there's a really interesting sort of tension that's very much embodied in the active conversation in our collaborate bond and the interoperability that's necessary to make that three world and identities actually work together. So I would just answer it in that it's a very active conversation with some really skilled community members. Putting a lot of their best efforts into connecting our efforts into the best of what's out there.
Definitely. And perhaps our last question before we we sum up, I understand that the goal of OpenTEAM is to put information in the hands of farmers, but is there the possibility for OpenTEAM to be used by a private technical service provider to collect and organize or store data for our farm clients? I would note that, that you know, the beauty of open source software is that it can be used however people see fit and and that's both the beauty and sometimes people perceive it as a downside. Wait, I created this open source software to be used for good and people are using it for evil, or they're using it for something entirely different that that wasn't on my agenda at all. But I think most of us, perhaps all of us as open source software providers, recognize that the the good and the power is is all about people using it for unexpected purposes and being able to build upon our work in in unexpected ways and to do new things. But other other comments on our theme, so yes, you can take the software and run it for whatever purpose you want, and that's great.
I could add actually that that's kind of something we're doing with the CFT N. The idea is that, you know, we have all these different agencies that you know, maybe an NRCS agent is working with a bunch of growers on soil health management plans or an RCD agent. And so we have both, you know, potentially farmers coming to that website and wanting to make a little profile that shares information about what they're doing. But also that technical assistance providers could come and not only onward farmers or work with a farmer to onboard themselves, but create hubs and so this is again working with Hylo. Where, you know, you could have a hub that says, you know, here's all these farmers that were that are within my hub, and I'm a technical assistance provider that's managing this hub, and they are the only ones who have permissions on those farms, for instance, and so they can, they can upload new videos and they can, you know, upload it some data or what have you, for those farms specifically. And, and then they can also create a privacy setting that only farms within that hub can see this information or that it can be public to anyone. And so, you know, and I think that that goes in door and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that goes broadly for what Hylo is doing that. It would you know, you can have an individual farmer on the map, but you can also have, you know, a technical assistance provider or a hub of some sort that has different proper permissions or management around around the data. And the content that's being uploaded.
Or thank you so much for summing that up. And for this, it's just such a pleasure to hear from these community members and the highlights and goals of OpenTEAM. And really well summarize there that you know, we're pharma focused but ultimately, this is about a collaborative effort. And as you say, is the same functionality we need to learn at the farm level is the same that we need at the governmental level or at the research level or from a private contract or a project developer level. So I think thanks again, this is a it was our goal of the session not just to provide content but the sense of community and shared problem solving. I hope that you see that the that this is not just meaningful, but a joyful process as well. And it's just deep gratitude for today's panelists, and the skilled and motivated community members that make what we're doing here possible. And we invite you to all join us to do deeper dives in the coming weeks, months and years and feel free to keep the questions coming. We didn't get to all of them, but we will respond and put the responses back on the website. Look back to this web series page for additional resources from these panelists, contact information, etc. CRO you should see in the chat a number of ways to follow up as well. So feel free again to reach out to us directly to the panelists as we continue to dive deeper on the big questions and topics we're tackling together. Some of the things that you should see in the chat are that you can register for the upcoming webinars. These visit our website, join our monthly newsletter, and an offer also that there'll be a a a link to a zoom call after this. If you'd like to dive in with any of the panelists or folks on this call. A little bit. A little bit more informal session. So with that, I'm so pleased to close out with all of you and hope to see you all again really soon.
I think we're pretty clear right now if you click on that Zoom link if you'd like if you have a little more time and want to continue the conversation with the panelists and the group. Jump on to that other zoom call and we look forward to talking further.
Thank you all
thank you so I'll jump across what was our user count at the peak? I wasn't really paying attention.
It was about 65 I
believe. Cool. That's great. All right. See you in the coffee hour.