Farmer designers, agriculture on the move

from 14 July 2021 to 8 May 2022

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2. When the farmer takes over

On another scale than the one imposed by globalization, other reciprocities are emerging, based on the sharing of knowledge, tools, materials and skills. Supported by farmers' groups and associations, these initiatives propose viable alternatives to the system of production, distribution and financing that has prevailed since the 1950s. The farmers thus aspire to regain their autonomy and control of their means of production. 

Since 2009, l’Atelier Paysan, a non-profit cooperative, works with farmers to design tools and buildings adapted to their activity and to the scale of their production, by listing and freely distributing construction plans and by offering training courses throughout France. The cooperative also develops partnerships with numerous local, national and international organizations for research and experimentation. L'Atelier Paysan regularly carries out Tours for the Identification of Farmhouse Innovations (TRIP), to collect, document, and chronicle adaptations, tips, and best practices related to farm tools and buildings.

 © Jean-Baptiste Fastrez

The Aggrozouk 

The Aggrozouk is a pedal operated tool holder, mounted on a height adjustable parallelogram. Lighter than a traditional tool holder and energy-efficient, it respects the soils and is particularly adapted to market gardening works thanks to the many tools it can combine: vibrocultivator teeth, harrow, ridging discs, hoeing stars, hoeing cages etc. The user controls the direction with a crank on his right and pedals in the prone position, helped by an electric assistance (two 12V batteries of 100Ah) which can be connected to a solar panel.

Plan détaillé aggrozouk
© L'Atelier Paysan

© Farming Soul

This tool was first developed by the Farming Soul collective, which then joined forces with the Atelier Paysan to ensure its adaptation to farmers and its dissemination through self-construction and free access plans.

The cultibutte

Plan détaillé du cultibutte
© L'Atelier Paysan

Permaculture encourages the cultivation in mounds which allows a better drainage, favours the development of the roots and delimits the zone of culture, dissuading the trampling and thus the compaction of the ground. The cultibutte is designed to shape or maintain mounds. Its double-spire tines loosen the soil while the side discs maintain the board. Depending on the objectives and soil conditions, the work can be refined thanks to a set of removable accessories at the rear: the croskicage, the fakir roller, the harrow, the rolling spades.

The bread hoven 

Four à pain
© L'Atelier Paysan

This bread oven is appreciated by small producers for its lightness, small size and ease of use. The bread is placed on two superimposed floors (i.e. on two levels) connected to a pivoting axis in the centre of a circular baking chamber made of rolled sheet metal, enclosed by an insulated circular wall. The fire is made in a fireplace under the cooking chamber. A space between the cooking chamber and the insulated wall allows the smoke and heat to circulate. The indirect heating allows to chain the furnaces indefinitely. Contrary to traditional earthenware ovens, this oven has no inertia, so the heating is fast. It is very well insulated and therefore saves wood. With a capacity of 20 to 25kg of bread per batch, it is adapted to a mobile use or to small productions.

The green manure vineyard seeder

Semoir viticole
© L'Atelier Paysan

Some plants are cultivated in order to increase soil fertility and to improve its structure, but not for harvesting. This is called ‘green manure’. The spontaneous vegetation that develops between the rows can play this role, but the establishment of green manure generally requires the seeding. 

Developed by a Jura winegrower, this green manure seeder for vines quickly aroused the interest of other winegrowers in the region. The Jura organic producers' union then asked Atelier Paysan to design this tool with the agreement of its inventor. Designed with easily accessible metal profiles, it is now easily reproducible. Its frame has discs and seeding tines designed to work in direct seeding (without ploughing). The harrow tines serve to homogenize the distribution of the seeds and to close the furrows. The front-mounted spacing discs also help to distribute the seeds over the desired area. This seeder can easily be adapted to vineyard inter-rows wider than those for which it was designed. 

Sending an animal to the slaughterhouse?  

In a society that has integrated animal suffering, more and more breeders are questioning this sensitive subject. Inspired by Austrian, German or Swiss farm slaughter models, different hypotheses have been developed in France since the 1990s.
Solutions that are more or less satisfactory, more or less collective.  

Offering an alternative to the industrial slaughterhouse means accompanying the animals to the end, avoiding a stressful transport and death, but it also means offering solutions in terms of hygiene and costs.  

The specifications are extremely complex: slaughtering on the farm, eviscerating, cutting up, recovering waste and waste water, refrigerating, transporting and preserving. 

So, faced with this desire to reappropriate the last step of a careful and respectful breeding work, to produce quality meat for all, farmers are still quite helpless.

They can kill the animal with a rifle in the field or slaughter it in a mobile structure, then refrigerate it and transport it to the slaughterhouse for cutting, or use a huge truck with several trailers, a more expensive and less mobile solution.  

Made even more difficult by the omnipresence of lobbies that parasitize political action, and by a part of the population that is now opposed to animal exploitation, the subject has not yet found a consensus.  

For more information: 
Atelier Paysan