Friday, September 4, 2009

A Milestone Has Been Reached!

To some, it's just a number, but to me it's a moment of triumph! This is Gulland Broadfork frame #100, awaiting it's tines. It's not sold yet, but it will be soon. I make these in small batches at home in my shop, doing every step by hand with absolute quality control my number one priority. If they aren't perfect, they don't get sold.

I started this little business about a year ago and I had no idea if anyone would ever buy one of these tools. I wanted to see if a tiny manufacturing shop could support itself by offering very high quality tools at honest, fair prices. I won't get rich this way; quick math will tell you that 100 broadforks at $185 each is not enough to live on these days, but it's a great start. Pretty soon I'll have 100 happy customers that will tell their friends about this tool and it'll go from there. I didn't do this to get rich quick.

I took out an ad in Countryside Magazine that hit the stands on October 15th 2008. That day, my phone rang with the first customer that had not bought one from me face to face. He was in New Mexico, and thus began this very rewarding little business.

There is a Chinese saying, "The ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
I'll continue to patiently make each and every broadfork with painstaking care using my own hands to do all the work. Even the apparent drudgery of handle fitting is joyous on a beautiful Wisconsin afternoon in the dappled sunlight beneath the birch tree by my back porch.
Each handle is fitted this way to insure a good tight fit when you get it. Nothing is worse than a handle that rattles around in the socket, and the only way to achieve the proper fit at this scale is the way I am doing it. Depending on the humidity when you get your fork, it may be a little tight or a little loose, but the 3/8" stainless steel lag screw that comes with the broadfork WILL hold it together tightly. Sometimes the handles might need a little help slipping into the sockets. You can tap the handle into place with the aid of a wooden or rubber mallet or just a piece of 2x4.

Make sure you don't leave this nice tool out in the weather, and a couple of times a year, rub the wood down with a 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and turpentine and some steel wool. It's a way of preserving wood that has been used for centuries, and it still works fine.

A note to the person that gets Gulland Broadfork #100:

You have made me believe that there is a great deal of hope for our future. You are the kind of person that takes care of your own responsibility to feed yourself and take care of your soil, because you know how important it is to have some control over your most elemental needs. The purchase of this human powered tool shows your commitment to the environment, to your physical health, and consequently, your mental well being. Producing your own food IS good for your head.

By purchasing your Broadfork from me, you are saying that you believe in the small business man, and you have 'put your money where your mouth is.'

A note to the 99 before you and to #101 and beyond:

We're all in this together. We're a small tribe of self reliant persons doing what we can in these crazy times to take care of business for ourselves and our loved ones. We're teaching ourselves how to raise food, preserve it for the months ahead when we can no longer pluck it from the Earth, and share our excess with our friends and neighbors. We're teaching what we know along the way and we are all doing a very good thing.

Thank you to all my previous customers. Your gardens are in the farthest reaches of this country and beyond. Gulland Broadforks are in Hawaii, Canada, and Mexico. They are in the good soil of Nebraska and New Mexico, of Florida, Maryland, Washington, Maine, Texas, the Carolinas, Idaho, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and my home state of Alabama. California has many, Idaho, a few. I won't list them all, but most states now have a Gulland Broadfork serving in a resident's garden.

It's getting close to the end of the season, and it's time to start to consider what to do with the garden over winter. I'll be reporting back as we start to close down sections that are out of production and I'll show you how I prep my garden beds for their winter rest.

Good soil to you all,



  1. Congratulations! That is a great milestone. Number 100 looks beautiful. It would be cool to see a photo of it in action--if the lucky buyer would be willing to share!

  2. Thank you Brynn! I have several photos of my broadforks in the field, so to speak, and I am just waiting to post them properly on this blog. #96 is in route to a neighbor of yours in Maryland today, so we're getting close to the century mark. I can't wait to get photos of the one in Hawaii, broadforkin' in Tropical Paradise!

    Good soil to you,


  3. It's eartening to see someone putting so much thought, time and effort into not only his product, but his life on the whole. As new homeowners with 2 acres, my boyfriend and I are planning for a large garden and chickens in the spring. I'll save up some money and will be ordering one of your broadforks before it's time to break up the soil. Thanks so much for your dedication to gentle living and a quality product. :)

  4. Erin,

    Congratulations on the new homestead! We're presently 'between chickens' but will have a flock in a few weeks. You'll find them to be a great addition to your lives. If everyone had chickens, television would go out of business!

    Karen and I were featured in the film, 'Mad City Chickens' which is a fun documentary of chicken owners centered on the Madison, Wisconsin 'Chicken Underground' that worked for years to gat a law passed to allow city residents to keep small flocks of birds for egg production. More info on the film and some clips are here:

    Living close to the land is my passion. I am very fortunate to have found a partner that shares the same quality of life commitments that I have made. Having common goals is the most important part of getting along, I believe. It's nice to find someone going in the same direction on this crazy trip through life, isn't it?

    Best of luck to you this spring, and make sure you send me a note when you order your fork.

    Good soil to you,