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Abstract

Interest in local food is growing among consumers and small-scale farmers, as evidenced by the significant increase in the number of farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture arrangements, and food hubs, in the last ten years. To meet the demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables, many small-scale farmers are considering scaling up their production. However, to remain profitable they need to balance production with increased labor costs and the need for specialized machinery. A study conducted in Iowa worked with five groups of farmers who shared different pieces of machinery. With help from the researchers, they developed sharing agreements and continue to share equipment and other inputs. This article provides an overview of the benefits and challenges of machinery sharing as well as provides practical considerations for growers who may want to form a machinery-sharing arrangement.

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