Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Eats are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Getting a farm off the ground takes time, but it also takes the right tools. Nearly any small plot of soil can become a working farm with enough care and proper planning. This year, I had my first intensive experience on a polyculture farm. From seeding to hand weeding, the farming tools and tactics I learned were totally different from the conventional farming experience I grew up with.
As a kid, I worked weekends harvesting summer produce by the hundred pounds. My harvests this season weren't so large, but it was more diverse. Having so many different vegetables growing is great for diets and the planet. As a beginning-again farmer, these pieces of equipment were things I used every day in the garden... and a few I didn't but wish I had!
Essential Farming Tools
1. Hori-Hori Weeding & Digging Knife, Authentic Tomita (Est. 1960) Japanese Stainless Steel, 7.25" Blade, Wood Handle Farm Tool
My big challenge this year was keeping Canada thistle out of our garden. If you don't know that weed, I envy you. It is a deep tap-rooting, prickly invader that spreads like, well, you know. My digging tool was a crucial weapon in the battle.
If your farm or garden is organic, then chemical sprayers are out of the question when it comes to weed control. In that case, a proper soil knife is a must-have hand tool. A Hori-Hori will be with you in all the years to come.
2. Berry Harvester with Metallic Comb and Ergonomic Handle for Easier Berry Picking Swedish Design by Ivique
This is actually the first time I am seeing one of these, and my mind is blown. I wish I had known about this creative garden tool before the berry bushes made my thumbs into pincushions, but there's always next season. At least the crumble was very, very worth it.
The future of berry farming is sweet, especially in places where new fruit produce is taking off. Berries are an invaluable way to diversify your crops, and an Ivique harvester is one of the most useful farm tools on Amazon for making your day a bit easier.
Tilling is a big subject of focus in the polyculture school of thought. It is growing in importance for conventional farming too. The quality and structure of our topsoil matter. Heavy tillers can damage this soil, which is where a harrow comes in handy.
If you're working on a bigger plot, a harrow can stir the soil just enough while maintaining composition without breaking down the good stuff. The Field Tuff cultivator will ride usefully behind an ATV, John Deere mower, or small tractor.
4. winemana 40% Black Shade Cloth, Edge with Buttonhole, 10 x 20 ft Resistant Garden Shade Cloth with Taped Edge for Plants Greenhouse Swimming Pool (10 FT x 20 FT)
Shade cloths are an unfussy piece of farm equipment that doesn't get the same attention as super-powered machinery and shiny tools. However, shade cloth is a magical fabric to have around and will save your plantings from too much stress. Especially for salad mixes, baby greens, and vulnerable seedlings.
5. EarthWay 1001-B Precision Garden Seeder Row Planter with Interchangeable 7 Seed Plates and Row Marker; Plants Hemp, Corn, Vegetables, Etc for Small Farm
Speaking of seedlings, one gardening tool you need when you start farming is a seeder. Some crops will call for sowing directly into soil rather than transplanting. The EarthWay can furrow at various depths. Plus, it comes with multiple plates for various-sized seeds.
This year I lost a crop of fall greens. Fifty meters of kale, spinach, and Italian mache that was supposed to fill my fridge in the waning months of summer. Instead, inexperience with a precision seeder ended with us having to freeze the last of the early crop in order to prolong a trip down the grocery aisle. All that is to say, you should get comfortable with this tool.
Another unmentioned piece of farming equipment? Gloves, and more gloves for when your first pair of gloves inevitably rip. I grew up sitting on the back of a large, automatic transplanter. Once I made the switch to doing it all by hand, it became clear how necessary a pair of rubber-tipped gloves were. These Cool Job gloves are both breathable and durable.
A big lesson I learned this past year was the importance of weed control. Weeds are a constant. I lost broccoli and cauliflower crops because I couldn't keep the meadows out of the beds. A proper trimmer is necessary, especially on a small plot where you are the main mode of weed picking. Not to mention, any agricultural tool that saves your back from extended bending is worth keeping on hand always.
There are other crucial farming tools that go with this list of hand tools, prep items, and heavy-duty equipment. Multipurpose tools like wheelbarrows, chainsaws, fencing material, and a stake driver always come in handy. The right tool for the right job!