Cooperatively design and manufacture tools for small-scale agricultural production
Mountainous agricultural communities suffer from fragmentation, lack of infrastructures and networking. Moreover, agricultural tools are made mainly for industrial-scale production. Small-scale organic farmers are often compelled to adapt their cultivations to big and expensive tools instead of being capable to adapt their tools to their cultivations.
Tzoumakers is an open lab for communities to cooperatively design and manufacture tools for small-scale agricultural production. Our vision is to create such sites in both villages and cities where citizens may seize technology into their own hands. These sites may be supported by municipalities and/or by multi-stakeholder cooperatives.
Design globally and sharing the knowledge as a commons and manufacture locally in local makerspaces, can empower producers to build their own tools, adapted to their needs and help them towards technological sovereignty. During its first year of operation, Tzoumakers community has collaboratively produced twelve tools like a tool for nailing fencing poles, a tilling fork (instead of digging the soil) or a grinder for aromatic plants. Most of them address real needs and are used and repaired by the community.
Local communities can interconnect on a global scale, sharing their experience, ideas, solutions and tools globally as a common resource (knowledge, design). Then, they can build solutions locally with local conditions in mind in makerspaces, fabrication laboratories (fablabs) or typical workshops with basic benchtop tools.
Impacts and weaknesses
Technological sovereignty can empower small-scale local communities in various ways: from the economic factor (open-source tools are usually at ⅓ rd of the commercial price) to unleashing the innovative potential of distributed communities that collaborate and exchange knowledge, skills and tools freely.
As a weakness can be pointed out the lack of networking and the fragmentation of Greek mountainous agricultural communities.
The development of functional business models for communities like Tzoumakers is an issue still to be formulated. Local authorities and farmers’ associations can play a key role in supporting these communities. Moreover, protocols should be developed that will formulate the establishment and function of internal and external processes.