A regular column on Treading Lightly Upon The Earth
Call them car clubs, transport co-operatives or wiggly buses, the idea is the same: they are all designed to make us use our own vehicles less.
A wiggly bus, by the way, is a community-owned vehicle that does not cover a set route and does not have a timetable.
Its voluntary driver responds to passengers’ requests by “wiggling” its way from one passenger to the next.
The results are benefits like less pollution of the atmosphere, quieter roads, no parking problems and consumption of less fossil fuel.
It begs the question, how feasible is it to set up similar schemes to help us farm our few acres?
Translate the idea into the farmyard and there are great possibilities.
Within one localised area, the weather conditions are likely to be identical, so there could be difficulties, with everyone needing their hay cut, their wheat harvested and their straw baled at the same time.
However, investigation and careful record-keeping could reveal sufficient variation within a few miles to make joint ownership of certain vehicles and types of equipment a feasible option.
Varying heights above sea level mean there could be frost pockets that delay the haymaking dates and cause the grain to ripen slightly later than on the next property.
And a day’s difference in ploughing dates is not going to make or break a small farm’s viability.
There is a long list of equipment that could come in for the sharing treatment, from chainsaws to tractors, and if you are not so hot on the repair front, there could be huge benefits if your neighbour is.
The neighbour fixes the ignition problem and you could offer to do some of his work in return.
If you have not yet met your closest neighbours, here is a great opportunity to make contact and discuss the choices available.
Try and car share on the daily trips to school, and it may be possible to do the same on the weekly or fortnightly visit to the supermarket.
We can do our best to encourage our friends in the towns and cities to do the same, although those concerned with image and fashion will be hard to persuade to get rid of their gas-guzzling, unnecessary 4x4s.
They are the drivers whose car doors are so huge that they dent ours in car parks, and whose fuel economy figures astound anyone with a conscience.
Safety concerns may be near the top of the list when they tell us why they hang on to their monstrous vehicles, but there are other issues here.
In an ideal world, there would be speed limits that were enforced, thereby cutting fuel consumption and causing fewer road traffic accidents.
As our eco-friendly ambitions are gradually realised, we can remind ourselves that a plough shared is one less plough to be manufactured in a process that we know pollutes the environment and uses non-renewable resources.
Anything that makes us take action on the damage we are doing to the planet has to be a good thing for our own future and for that of our children.