Spearheading the movement for cooperative, user-led tool production in Quebec’s farming community is CAPÉ, la Cooperatif pour Agriculture de Proximité biologique et Écologique. “AutoConstruction” in French, collective, DIY tool production allows farmers to save money by working together and buying materials in bulk. These projects allow participants to enjoy a dynamic workspace and the expertise of an entire group, in addition to manufacturing unique tools that do not exist on the market yet allow for better farming practices.
Farmer, researcher, traveler and writer Samuel Oslund published this beautiful photo essay while researching L’Atelier Paysan in 2016. According to Samuel, “Whether in France, Quebec, the US, or Italy, I have observed that a common theme of this movement is inclusion and participation. Rather than creating uncomfortable, exclusive or intimidating spaces, the hackathons and builds I’ve observed and participated in are always filled with a mix of ages, genders, and people from different experience.”
“This model gives communities direct access to tools created specifically for their needs, and at the core of the designs is the knowledge that they will be hacked, tweaked, and rethought by each user. This has the added benefit of prompting quicker innovation in future and diverse iterations of the tools as they are adapted to suit different needs.”
When evaluating the success of these projects there are many variables to take into consideration from labor, coordination and design, to development and prototyping. With a hackathon it can be difficult to quantify some of these values, because the events are aimed at actively building skills and knowledge through hands-on practice. In the cold and somewhat isolating months of the Quebec winter, these workshops also serve as an excuse to gather together old and new friends from across the province.
Follow CAPÉ’s AutoConstruction Facebook page to learn more, watch inspiring build videos, and get invoved in the movement!