There is a massive technological gap between the hand tools millions of small-holder farmers use and the tractors of large-scale farming operations. This gap can and is successfully being filled with animal-powered technology. Tillers collects and adapts rural tools and skills from history and from current innovations developed around the world; then, we help rural communities adapt these tools to their production needs. Areas of focus include:
The world’s 400 million draft animals mostly plow and harrow. Expanding uses to include effective weeding, harvesting, planting, haying, and post-harvest processing quickly boosts farm production.
Tillers has developed low-stress techniques and comfortable yokes that increase productivity, which are based on many modern and historical techniques for harnessing and training animals.
Improving the skills of rural carpenters and blacksmiths is a critical step to better equipping farmers. With modest help, these artisans activate rural economies.
The introduction of simple carts speed farm marketing and relieve women of traditional drudgery. Tillers has designs for many needs, construction limits, and environments.
Off-season and off-farm use of draft animal power creatively kick-starts a local economy. Tillers shares tools for road building, water projects, logging, and general construction.
Development of the skills of trainers, extension agents, and others to ensure project sustainability and provide a core of trainers is key to future projects.
Tillers International hosts international guests at their home facility in Scotts, Michigan. Guests have the opportunity for special research projects or intensive training using Tillers collection of historic farming equipment, fabrication facilities, livestock, and farm fields. Visits to nearby animal powered farms and animal powered equipment manufacturing and research facilities can be arranged.
Tillers conducts ground-based hands-on trainings and consultations in international rural villages, larger population centers, at our new learning center in Chimoio, Mozambique, and at our Innovation Workshop in Lira, Uganda. Subject matter includes the introduction or maximization of animal power, blacksmithing, woodworking, intensive pasturing and fodder, low-capital technologies, and more. We also regularly partner with organizations to fulfill their contract obligations. Learn more about our international work.
In the United States
Tillers offers classes in farming and logging with draft animals, as well as traditional farm homesteading and artisanal skills, such as blacksmithing, woodworking, coopering, beekeeping, cheesemaking, timber framing, canning and preserving food, and much more. View our complete class schedule online or download the 2015 Tillers Class Catalog.
The Tillers Museum houses over 4,000 historical farming implements that give fascinating insights into our rural history and valuable inspiration for our present and future. Visit the Tillers Museum page for more information about our collection as well as information for school groups and tours.
The Young Farmer Incubator Program offers new farmers a lower-risk entry into farming. Visit the Farmer Incubator Program page for more information and application instructions.