As the world’s cities grow the role of farmers is increasingly important, but a lack of accessible agricultural machinery can stop small farmers from being productive, especially in developing countries and remote villages. In rural Missouri a Polish-American physicist-turned-farmer wants to change the way we farm by making sure everyone can cheaply assemble their own industrial machines.
Having identified the 50 most important mainstays for modern life to exist – from the tractor to the laser cutter to the bakery oven – Marcin Jakubowski is publishing open source blueprints and instructions to make low-cost tools on a Wiki page. Everyone can download and modify the plans for free, and make machines from scratch using digital fabrication tools. Described as “an agrarian romantic for high-tech times”, the DIY enthusiast has called his list the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) – and a complete “life-size LEGO set” is intended to support a small-scale sustainable farming community of about 200 people comfortably.
In Jakubowski’s ‘Factor e Farm’, teams have already built 16 prototypes of the 50 modular machines, all with interchangeable motors, powers and parts. Sourced from local and recycled materials, they are designed to last a lifetime and can be twice as cheap to make. His goal is to convert normal factory production into communities building their own world, with the potential for for a single burned DVD to become a civilisation starter kit – the first step in an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village.