The Rusty Gear is an ode to Charlie Koiner and the old rusty tools that he used on his farm.  However, it has become a symbol for something far greater than old farm tools.


The Rusty Gear is an analogy for a small farm within a food system. 


Like a gear within a machine, a farm within a community keeps inputs and outputs cycling through the food system.  For example, waste from a local coffee shop or brewery can be used as compost additives to help build healthy soil.  In return, the farm can grow fresh greens and herbs for local restaurants.  In this way, the farm acts like a gear that keeps the food system turning.  Much like a gear, a farm helps the food system run more smoothly by lowering barriers to sustainability.  Similarly, a farm can provide some benefit on its own, but is most productive and effective when working in coordination with other elements within the system.


Continuing with this analogy, lets image that a gear within a machine is damaged or removed.  In this case, the machine will likely sputter, stall, and eventually fail.  Likewise, should farms become damaged or removed - say from infertile land, polluted water, unfair working conditions,  suburban sprawl, or loss of family farms - the food system, in turn, will sputter, stall and eventually fail.  


Finally, neither the size nor the location of the gear within the machine indicates its importance within the system.  Each gear, no matter how big or small, has a significant role to play in the functioning of the system.  So too does each and every farm.