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

We're Making Tracks

It's time to leave all this Wisconsin fun to head down South again.

Our first stop will be the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Work Group Conference in Chattanooga, TN. You can meet the folks that make the Gulland Broadfork at the Earth Tools BCS booth at the trade show there on January 21st and 22nd. The Southern SAWG Conference is always a wonderful place to get great information and the Earth Tools booth is always a hot spot to get your hands on the finest hand tools available, brought to you by the people that know them the best.

If you're going to be at the conference, please stop by and say hello. I met several of our customers last year and it's always good to see you again.

Next on the conference schedule this year is the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture 20th Annual Conference February 2nd-5th. We'll be there at the trade show with Earth Tools as well. It'll be our first PASA Conference, and we can't wait to get there.

Our last show of the season will be Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Conference in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on February 24th-26th. MOSES is a biggie, and it's also our first time to attend. We'll be at the Earth Tools BCS booth there, as well.

Being an internet based business, my wife and I seldom get to meet our customers face to face, but we love to when we can. Please come by and introduce yourselves if you are attending one of these events.

It's been a brutal winter so far in southern Wisconsin, and Nature has shared the Love with the rest of the country, it appears. Now is the time to gather with those like yourselves at one of the conferences I have mentioned so that you can learn as much as can while you can't break into the soil.

We hope to see you there!

Good soil to you,