the agritect

@VELD architect, southwestern Ontario

Capturing 'Farmer Thinking'

At a recent conference for Sustainable Food Systems in West Lorne 2025″(see post) I was introduced to the work of Dan Needles, a playwright who has self proclaimed the title of keeper of 'farmer thinking'. Dan describes farmer thinking as three things; absolutely practical, humble in the face if great calamity, and too rare in today’s society.

During the day Dan read excerpts from his plays and they were perfect renditions if rural culture. In one scene he recounts a local mechanic therapist stating that the death of rural culture was the round bale! He believed that prior to the round bale farm kids had lots of work to do over the summer, they would never be bored and they would be so excited to go back to school in the fall that they wouldn't forget to study. He also believed that the farmer would be so anxious to retire that it wouldn't be a problem for the son to take over without the father supervising. After the round bale came along the farmer could just get an air-conditioned tractor and pretend he was young until he was 75!

Dan Needles reminds us why we love the rural culture. It is why I am interested in what I do. It is why we long for a rural lifestyle that no longer exists. In every piece of architecture I try to capture rural culture. Not by replicating the traditional bank barns of the past, and also not with the cold steel machines of the present. But by looking at a particular farm, it’s surroundings, the farmers personality, and combining the best of all practices to suit each particular farm.

Have you seen any architecture that is a representation of contemporary ‘farmer thinking’?

Visit the case study blogs to find some examples of modern farm architecture, that is a balance between modern and traditional.

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