Farmers Share Farm Machinery
Instead of buying or renting expensive specialized machinery, farmers in Maine can now join a “lending library” of farm tools on short-term loan by using the Shared-Use Farm Equipment Pool, a partnership between the Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. There are already equipment co-ops and joint machinery ownerships around the country; now the sharing economy being established in urban areas seems to be catching on in rural America, too.
For a $100 annual fee, members can gain access to a seedbed cultivator, two-shank sub-soiler, plastic mulch layer, tine weeder, and strip and ridge tillers. The 1,200-pound mulch layer, for instance, retails for more than $2,000. Each piece is undeniably useful, but pricey, especially given the cost per use. Farmers have a three-day window to use the tools.
The pool came about when Mike Gold, an MFT staff member, saw the need to lower costs for both new and seasoned farmers. Currently, most of the tool pool members are newer vegetable farmers, but Gold says there’s appeal for established land stewards, too: “They see the opportunity to use that one piece of equipment that they may only need once a year or once every few years.”