Open source manuals for farming tools

Associations offer platforms, where smallholder farmers can create, exchange and obtain open source manuals as well as advice on how to construct and maintain one’s own tools. Training courses (approx. 2-5 days), events and seminars on the production of tools and machines are also organized, where farmers can get advice (e.g. on metalworking) from people of the association as well as from other farmers while actually building their own tools (e.g. machines for soil cultivation).[1]

Aim and innovation

Thanks to this niche, smallholder farmers gain access to free innovative technologies adapted to agroecological practices, as well as the knowledge behind their construction and maintenance. These tools are often not available on the market, are patented and therefore costly, or comes along with a dependence on the agricultural machinery suppliers for further repairs and spare parts. The manuals for the tools and machinery are collectively developed by smallholder farmers, thus enhancing the autonomy of smallholder farmers through the acquisition of knowledge and skills. During the training courses, it is ensured that the participants not only build the tool, but also learn how to repair it and adapt it to their own needs. Especially young farmers, should be given the opportunity to learn from the experiences, including success and difficulties, of their elders. The open-source ethics promote sustainability by encouraging people to handicraft, invent, create, and repair old objects instead of throwing them away without any further use via recycling.[2]



Farm Hack UK[5], Farm Hack Scotland[6], L'Atelier Paysan - France[7]


intermediate consumption


associations, farmers

State of development

The interest in the concept is growing. More people from other countries are registering for the training courses in France, the UK and Scotland, which indicates that similar foundations in Germany and other European countries can be expected. L'Atelier Paysan also offers advice on how to cover the costs of participation to the training courses, which are also supported by public funds for vocational training in agriculture from the French government.


Sustainability potential


  • resource efficiency in production and consumption


  • poverty reduction (indirect)
  • creation of transparency along the value chain


  • participation
  • social Justice

Risks / disadvantages

There are still few such initiatives in Europe. A long-term development of a Europe-wide network of associations offering such training, similar to the network of the niche Agroecology Schools in Europe, is desirable.

[1] European Coordination Via Campesina (2018): Atelier paysan. https://www.eurovia.org/6108/ (20.02.2020)

[2] Farm Hack (n.d.): Tools. https://farmhack.org/tools (20.02.2020)

[3] Farm Hack (n.d.): Julien Reynier and Fabrice Clerc from L’Atelier Paysan on Self-Build Communities in Farming. 04.12.2019 http://blog.farmhack.org/ (20.02.2020)

[4] ibid.

[5] Farm Hack (n.d.). https://farmhack.org/tools (20.02.2020)

[6] Farm Hack Scotland (2019). https://www.facebook.com/events/the-big-shed/farm-hack-scotland-2019/2334762136745072/ (20.02.2020)

[7] Gaillard, C. (n.d.): L’Atelier Paysan. https://www.latelierpaysan.org (20.02.2020)