Farmers & Tinkerers
Hansy and I met with Brookwood Community Farm farmers two weeks back about the mobile farm stand – to work through some preliminary design ideas, but mostly to ask lots and lots of questions about market-day logistics. Though everyone is open to ideas about alternative vending and mobility, these are the folks who are going to be responsible for making sure the produce gets to Mattapan, and these are the folks who know a little something about how much work goes into produce display and selling. No one wants to make the vendors’ lives harder, least of all them.
It turns out that in order to make it worthwhile for the farmers, or rather, in order to have enough produce to attract people to their current stand, they ship approximately 20 full 18”x23”x12” plastic bins every market day, or around 1,000 pounds of fruits and veggies. Hansy and I were completely blown away by this! We talked a lot about how that number, and our persistent desire to use “human-powered machinery” like bicycle power, is going to affect the mobility of the stand. Time to find some bike mechanics and see just how much weight we can easily move up and down the slope of Blue Hills Avenue.
One of the farmers with Brookwood, Tim, took us around his own farm spread afterward. Tim is what Hansy dubbed “a tinkerer” – he constantly questions the use of tractors and other gasoline-powered equipment in organic farming, and is always playing with mechanical ideas for “human-powered machines.” Most of his equipment was experimental, like plows from retrofitted bicycles, and he admitted he hasn’t quite figured out whether humans actually have enough power in them to provide the force that plowing needs. There’s a reason horses and mules were used for centuries. We joked that perhaps the farm stand can be an old-fashioned horse and buggy, trotting up and down Mattapan. That would definitely be attention-grabbing.
It was a great meeting, raising lots of questions and design obstacles that will be challenging but hopefully rewarding to tackle. It was also a hopeful and, with Tim’s human machines, inspirational day. We’re excited about where this next few weeks of the design process will take us.