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Back of Beyond Farm is a small, family run operation in Rist Canyon, Colorado. We work closely with natural rhythms to create wellness teas from indigenous and naturalized plants. 2013 marks our 4th year of supporting our community through tasty teas. In the year ahead, we hope to continue our work of not only producing healthful teas, but also exploring the edges of what it means to farm and be a part of a place.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Appropriate Technology 1.0

Village Earth is a non-profit in Fort Collins Colorado working to assist communities in sustainable development around the world. A few years back they were able to connect me to Ed Iron Cloud who is working to restore Bison to his land in South Dakota, but more about Ed another time.

Village Earth has a term they use in doing sustainable development I absolutely love: Appropriate Technology. What I believe appropriate technology means is looking at a situation and trying to find the right tool or idea or invention to meet the need of that situation through an appropriateness of scale, resource commitment, culture, and place. I have an example.

On our little farm we have very little flat ground, everything is on a slant. Additionally, out of the five acres of land, 60 percent of it is wooded and those woods are overstocked. Because we are on a North-facing slope, we have snow from November to late March most years. Harvesting the surplus trees for timbers and firewood is best accomplished in the Fall and Winter when there isn't much else to do and the Pine and Ips beetles aren't looking for new homes. The situation we're faced with is: "How do we move chunks of wood from point A to point B given the snow, and slope?

Here's the answer:

This sled might be my favorite tool. The multiple uses of it are extraordinary: hauling kids, hauling groceries, hauling garbage, hauling wood, hauling elk, hauling ice fishing gear and more. There is rarely a day that goes by in that five month stretch of Winter when this sled is not used. I want more of that kind of tool around the farm. The one that gets used and gets the job done in the most "Appropriate" manner.


The sled came to us when our good friend Tom moved to Georgia with his family. This gifted sled does what a $4500 four wheeler might do as well, but with a lot less stress, maintenance, and debt. When farmers are looking for a way to change a situation or solve a problem, thinking in terms of Appropriate Technology is a first step. Since discovering this term, I have used it countless times in trying to figure out a way to dry herbs or frame in new planting beds.

Thanks Village Earth and thanks Tom!