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Farm Hack: connecting farmers with low-cost tools

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Mohammed Ballas/AP/File

(Read caption) A Palestinian farmer harvests wheat on a farm near the West Bank city of Jenin, early Thursday, April 24, 2014. Farm Hack started out as an MIT convention and now works to aid the success of young farmers. .(AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

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In 2011, a group of engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and regional farms met to discuss innovative, collaborative opportunities, and established the first-ever Farm Hack convention, a meeting ground to share and brainstorm blueprints and designs for low-cost farm tools and equipment. Since that meeting, Farm Hack has turned into a national effort to connect farmers with these ingenious designs.

The Farm Hack community evolved from an old farming tradition of tinkering with haggard equipment and inventing new equipment with recycled or on-farm materials. Farm Hack is striving to restore this creative effort and bring farmers and engineers together to collaborate on both designing and sharing these innovations.

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Purchasing and maintaining farm equipment is not only costly but can also create a barrier for young farmers. The National Youth Farmers Coalition and the Greenhorns, both of whom share the mission of promoting the success of young farmers, formed a partnership to create the Farm Hack community. Through a combination of community efforts, regional events, and an online discussion board and database, Farm Hack aims to reach farmers all over the United States.

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The website offers designs for equipment like the Roxbury Farm bed weeder, which allows a tractor to pull four people lying face down within arm's reach of the ground. Everything from mobile chicken coop designs to record keeping applications for iPhones can be downloaded from the site. Everyone is welcome to join the community and share ideas through uploads, links, and comments.