Monday, January 10, 2011

Sometimes you feel pretty small

In my life, I have had opportunities to be in some of the most majestic places in the United States. I have stood before mountain peaks and deep within their crags. I have paddled beautiful lakes and rivers. I have witnessed musical virtuosities and have experienced great art and have stood breathless in the midst some of the most awesome displays of Nature's angry and wrathful weather.

I sought those things my whole life, not because they made me feel powerful, but because they made me feel humble and connected to them in a very deep and spiritual way.

A couple of days ago in Tucson, Arizona, there was an event that made me freeze in my tracks. The tragic shooting event there shook me to my bones and made me feel helpless and numb in a way I cannot ever remember feeling. I have always been the kind of guy that wanted to do something, anything that would make a bad situation better, but I saw clearly that there was absolutely nothing that I could do that would help to heal the heart of a wounded nation.

I felt helpless until tonight. Let me give you a little background.

Late last August, I got an order for a broadfork from The Community Food Bank. I looked them up on the internet to see what kind of organization they were. Because I am such a small business, I don't have money to give to non-profit groups regularly, but I figured that if they ordered a broadfork from me, I would do something for them.

I looked up the extension of the person whose name was on the order and called him, out of the blue. We had a great talk and he told me about all the ways they worked in the community to teach people how to raise their own food in one of the harshest places in the world, deep southern Arizona.

They have a big community outreach, a farmer's market and they organize and maintain a food bank for those in need. In addition to that, they have a Youth Farm Project where "young people are given the opportunity to develop a relationship with the food they eat... learn about food systems, contribute to the community, and of course, have some fun!"

Their mission statement is: Through education, advocacy and the acquisition, storage and distribution of food, we will anticipate and meet the food needs of the hungry in our community.

It just so happened that the guy whose name was on the order was the the CEO of the Community Food Bank, Bill Carnegie. We had a wonderful conversation and at the end, I asked him if he would have a use for a second broadfork; I wanted to make a donation to his program out there. He said he would be delighted to have a second broadfork and was very thankful for my gift.

The following is an excerpt of the note I got from them a week later:

"We do a lot of hand digging in our 1/3 of an acre youth garden, and are working to build our desert soils and to create the rich organic matter and diverse soil communities we lack here naturally. Your broadforks are key to helping facilitate this process."

It felt great to know that I had done something that really mattered and that extra broadfork was stationed in their youth garden, working in the hands of the people that can really make changes in our world.

Well, that's the background and this is the rest of the story.

As I was reading the news tonight, I came across an article on Huffington Post; a statement from the husband of Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly. In his closing line he says, " Many of you have offered help. There is little that we can do but pray for those who are struggling. If you are inspired to make a positive gesture, consider two organizations that Gabby has long valued and supported: Tucson's Community Food Bank and the American Red Cross."

I know The Community Food Bank of Tucson would be as appreciative of your contributions as they were of mine. It's a group that is doing really good work in southern Arizona and here is how you can get in touch with them:

Community Food Bank
3003 S Country Club Rd #221
Tucson, AZ 85713-4084

Sometimes when I feel small, helpless and insignificant, I reach out and touch something bigger than I am. Try it for yourself.

Good soil to you,


By the way, that incredible photo above will enlarge if you click on it and you should. It's Leigh Lake in Grand Teton National Park, with Mt. Moran in the background. The water was that perfect ALL DAY!

Photo by Karen Stack


  1. Great post Gulland.

    I'll admit to being fairly self-centered these past few months as we rushed to get ourselves set up. But as we settle into a homesteading routine it's time for us to reach out too.


  2. Hey Northern Farmer, The first thing we have to take care of is our own needs at home. You'll know when it's time to reach out. Thanks for tuning in!


  3. Larry,
    Thanks for the spare broadfork you sent us a year back - it turned out one wasn't enough. They continue to be used to maintain our garden soils once we establish them and bring them back to life. Desert soils are delicate and can burn through organic matter like you wouldn't believe if we agitate the soil too much. The three additional forks we ordered today will be part of our community equipment library and will help support our second urban farm (Las Milpitas de Cottonwood) just west of downtown Tucson. I know the quality you are delivering will ensure your tools are around for several generations at least. My biggest wish is to have a small army of young blacksmiths in training to produce tools like these locally with the same passion for quality displayed in your broadfork. Thanks again.

    Jaime de Zubeldia
    Director of Farm Programs
    Community Foodbank of Southern Arizona
    and Natural Beekeeper at ReZoNation Farm