Initial outreach to farmers indicated that access to equipment is a common obstacle for farmers, especially those that are just getting started and/or are looking to transition to regenerative practices. Meetings were convened to explore cooperative models and what types of equipment could be shared across the region.
A small group of farmers from across the region launched the Alliance to meet their shared equipment needs.
The Equipment Sharing Alliance was awarded $21,500 by SBCFAN’s Food System Resilience Grant program to purchase a mobile seed cleaner and no-till planter that will support farmers in planting locally adapted and heritage varieties that suit the climate and culture.
When Lompoc Valley Seed and Milling Co., one of our region’s oldest agriculture businesses, closed its doors in 2019, farmers were forced to send their seeds, grains, and beans hundreds of miles north to King City. The Alliance felt that their first large-scale equipment purchase should be a seed cleaner so that local access to this critical equipment could be restored.
The Alliance connected and will continue to connect with other regional equipment shares across California to share ideas and create replicable models.
The Alliance facilitated their first event, a panel discussion on selecting grains for planting, that featured grain experts, researchers, and bakers. The event was so well attended that the Alliance plans to hold similar gatherings in the future.
The Central Coast and Southern California Regenerative Equipment Sharing Collaborative supported Sweet Wheel Farms with harvesting their organic oats by sharing their Boaz mini combine. This type of agricultural equipment can harvest wheat, barley, rye, rice, oats, and other small grains. The Collaborative is excited to have a variety of crops to test out all of its capabilities.
Future PLANS for ACTIVATION:
- The Alliance is exploring opportunities for next generation farmers to learn how to operate and repair equipment so that they have the skills necessary to join or activate shared equipment cooperatives throughout our region – and beyond. Preliminary conversations with Allan Hancock College and Cabrillo High School have indicated an interest in creating curriculum and they look forward to developing the concept further.
- The Alliance would like to create a replicable cooperative model that would help distribute resources across many farmers and regions, ultimately building resiliency into the food system.
- “The SBCFAN grant led to other kinds of member investment. As a result of this network, people have been a lot more open about sharing.”
- “Farming can be solitary, but the solidarity our grain producer cooperative has built will have lasting impacts on our success as farmers, helping grow our small operations so they act as examples and incubators for a new diverse generation of mentored farmers. The power of an organization like SBCFAN to support the activation and sustainability of such work, thereby effecting substantive, permanent change to our local food system, cannot be overstated.”
- “The Alliance is an acceleration of the cooperative farming movement in our region.”
- “There is a collaborative mindset – people have begun listing what they are willing to share from their own inventory in addition to the equipment the Alliance has acquired.”
- “The cooperative model addresses a community need and keeps food miles low. Without access to a local seed cleaner, we were increasing our food miles dramatically.”
- “As a new generation of farmers emerges, there may not be the generational knowledge to fix this equipment. The Alliance can help bridge that gap.”