Ever wanted to explain Farm Hack to someone who’s not quite agriculturally literate, like, say your mother? We recommend: Farm Hack from farmrun on Vimeo for the purpose. But we also just recommend it for your watching pleasure. Some videos are too good to wither away in the recesses of the internet. They deserve to be watched regularly. My favorite is the next one down: something about the galvanizing nature of bagpipes just make the stakes feel considerably higher…
One thing that is clear when you look at Oggún’s website, watch its videos, and study its tractor, is that this a no-frills organization. No frills: just results. And that is precisely why we love them and it so much.
In his ever-relevant essay “In Distrust of Movements,” Wendell Berry writes that the local food and land movement must “content itself to be poor,” because, “We need to find cheap solutions, solutions within the reach of everybody, and the availability of a lot of money prevents the discovery of cheap solutions. The solutions of modern medicine and modern agriculture are all staggeringly expensive, and this is caused in part, and maybe altogether, because of the availability of huge sums of money for medical and agricultural research.”
What we see here, in the Oggún tractor, is exactly what kind of practical, pragmatic results come from a thrifty approach. Accessing Cuba’s local food shortage, Cuban-born Horace Clemmons and his business partner Saul Berenthal quickly realized that Cuban farmers needed technology that was simple, rugged, and easy-to-repair. And then they asked, why don’t tractors like this already exist, tractors like the original Allis Chalmers G that farmers in the US used in the 1950s? They suspected that stock-based shareholder business models might be to blame: too much money and the input of too many people with money who just do not understand the problems of small farmers.
So, in the grand spirit of Farm Hack, they used open-source technology to build a tractor with all off-the-shelf parts. Thus, repairs can be done in the field and in small local machine shops. Oggún adapted its business model to keep over-head costs low, partner closely with other local businesses, and never develop products that are planned for obsolescence. The tractors is made in Alabama, but it’s available to and possibly revolutionary for small family farmers all around the world.
Tune into Greenhorns Radio today at 4:00 PM to hear Locky Carton, Oggún partner and graduate of the University of Iowa’s agricultural business program, speak more about this exciting project. If you can’t tune in today, don’t forget that a podcast version of our show is always available at the Heritage Radio Network!
Farmer, tool hacker, organizer, and self styled agricultural anthropologist (and, we’re proud to say, a GH blog editor) Samuel Oslund takes us on a journey into les Rencontres de l’Atelier Paysan. Les Rencontres is a yearly gathering of farmers from across France, hosted by our French farm hacking heroes l’Atelier Paysan (roughly The Peasant’s/agrarian Workshop). The event is a hands on skill sharing celebration, filled with food, good wine, and some fairly strange music. Continue reading
You will have the opportunity to take part in a wealth of activities: introductory sessions to metal work, talks, workshops, conferences, etc. In this form you can tell us the activities that interest you the most, and help us to put together a programme that suits your needs!
In order to keep things simple, we advise you to tick “Definitely” for:
– the ongoing workshop which you are most interested in
– a maximum of 2 introductory workshops
The aim is not only to tell us what you’re interested in, but also what you feel you will be able to do, without trying to cram in too much.
To take a look and to book, click HERE!
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Severine, an organizer and cultural worker in the young farmers movement. I run Greenhorns in the Champlain Valley of New York, I’m founder of Agrarian Trust, and co-founder and board secretary of Farm Hack. I’m also involved with quite a few other projects including mixing up wild-crafted seaweeds, fruits, and flower petals into herbal teas for a little farm business on the side.
You may have noticed the phenomena of the new agrarian movement — out on the weekends selling our food at farmers’ markets. Local agriculture is a compelling, diverse and healthy alternative to corporate mega-culture farming. My colleagues-in-arms have put their lives into direct action by founding thousands of new, small and medium-sized family-based businesses across the country. My main work is to initiate and coordinate creative networks that support my community’s needs. That means connecting people, helping with access and mobility to overcome inevitable obstacles, and transmitting farmers voices and viewpoints out into media-space.
This work crosses many sectors, formats and institutional forms. It includes web-based communities that create and share open-source tools, as in Farm Hack. It includes direct contact with archives, public and private libraries, older people, oral and folk narratives, junk shops and radical micro-histories like Grange Future. It involves small teams of humans making grass-roots media (radio, video, anthologies/publications) like the New Farmers Almanac, and Greenhorns Guide to Cooperative Farming. It includes social media, Instagram and making our own cooperative film festival for outreach on college campuses. It includes sailboats and cargo-value-chain logistics. It includes engaging programmers and researchers to do mapping, working with lawyers to craft new legal forms of commons-based governance. It is wide ranging and more expansive than I ever expected, and it takes me out on the rural roads, almost constantly tracking down the future budding up from the agrarian underground.
What hardware do you use?
I’m sorry to admit it, but I’m on my 9th Apple. It seems like I’ve stared at a computer pretty much every day since 6th grade – my brother says I’m addicted to it. I like the Brother printers and the Canon cameras. When I’m at home I use an old-fashioned roller-dial phone for my radio show, which gives the best sound quality, but often I’m on the road and my listeners cringe at the bovine background chatter from the busted up old iPhone. I like the old iPhone software, not the new stuff. Kids these days!
I’m a luddite who needs wifi. It’s a challenge working in rural and remote areas, hobo-ing and making films, while trying to manage workflows in 3 timezones on snatches of Internet. It does get done, but my calves are bloody from raging around in a techno-bramble patch for so many years and I’m not good at it. Suggestions are deeply welcome. It’s only sheer persistence and the massive social architecture, a baroque brocade of co-operators and allies that keep the machines running, and servers clear of space-trash. What I really want is to live in a world with less computers, and a more appropriate level of complexity. I’d like to live in a place where setting up a meeting happens in a common kitchen, informally at mealtimes, and is synched not by algorithms, but according to our daily routine of sunrise, tea-drinking, goat-milking, and a leisurely rye toast with butter. I’d like a recycled, refurbished, off-grid solar server (that is locally owned) run by a friend of mine who barters for goat milk, kombu + rosehip jam.
And what software?
Notice, good ideas that are in English reverse engineer the English empire!
Made partly from repurposed bicycle parts, rollerblade wheels, and an old exercycle, the Rootwasher cleans twenty kilograms of roots in under five minutes and does not require any electricity to operate. A five-acre vegetable farm harvests up to 250 kilograms of root crops per week, including radishes, carrots, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, and celeriac. Washing the roots by hand can take about three hours per 250 kilograms, and is very unpleasant in cold weather. The bicycle-powered Rootwasher provides the farmer with gentle exercise and helps makes washing roots fun.
To read more, click HERE!
We are a French-speaking collective of small-scale farmers, employees and agricultural development organisations, gathered together as a cooperative named l’Atelier Paysan. Based on the principle that farmers are themselves innovators, we have been collaboratively developing methods and practices to reclaim farming skills and achieve self-sufficiency in relation to the tools and machinery used in organic farming. In 2011, we set ourselves up as a staffed organisation working to promote farm-based inventions, collectively develop new technological solutions adapted to small-scale farming, and make these skills and ideas widely available through courses and educational materials. Since 2015, we have also been offering resources and guidance to farmer-driven projects involving the building or renovation of agricultural buildings.
We are based in the Rhône-Alpes region of south east France and also have a branch in Brittany. We have three trucks equipped with the machinery and materials we need to run practical training courses on farms and workshops across France. We provide advice and guidance for small-scale farmers on agricultural tools tailored to their needs, and accompany them through their trials and tribulations in their farming journey, individually or collectively, whatever their area of production.
The development of tools and self-built machinery adapted to small-scale farming is a technological, economic and cultural instrument which has been little explored within agricultural development in France, although it can provide a significant impact on the growth of organic farming and contribute to improving organic farming practices.
Check them out, because they just translated their website into English!