Thanks to the comments on yesterday’s blog post, this piece of old farm gear, lying abandoned in the field for who knows how long, has been ID-ed as a sickle bar mower. Yet another in a long line of bigger equipment I’ve seen but not used in my tiny farming career. I suppose the main job of this mower was in making hay, something I’ve barely considered. Why? Because it belongs to “another scale” of farming. There’s small-scale—tiny farming, on one or two or three acres—and then there’s mid-size, and then, BIG.
This idea of SCALE has been on my mind quite a bit, lately. More and more people these days seem to want to get back to the land and start farming, and the farming they want to do is usually of the tiny variety. Like what’s pictured on this blog. Small-plot growing is understandable, accessible, hard work, economically tough, genuinely community-building, fun…all of that stuff. Big tractors and combines and other imposing (and EXPENSIVE) machinery don’t figure into the picture. In my few years of market gardening, I’ve only ever driven my Kubota compact tractor, and I know nothing practical about larger scale growing gear.
This is interesting for the simple reason that, if “we” (referring, at least, to Canada and the US) are going to change what we eat, where it comes from, on any sort of large scale, it’s difficult to imagine our part of the world, with its convenient supermarkets and complex food chain, suddenly fed mainly by hundreds of thousands or MILLIONS of postcard tiny farms. Gathering food for tens and hundreds of millions of people from all those tiny farms would be…complicated. So it seems to me, there’s tiny farming and mid-size farming, and figuring out how they fit together. Hmm…
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