Our Market Schedule

Hello everyone! We’ve come out of a rather blustery February and the promise of spring is in the air! In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be attending several markets in the Alberta region.

The first market is the Calgary Seedy Saturday, March 17th, 10am-3pm at the Hillhurst – Sunnyside Community Association (1320 5th Ave NW). Webpage

The second market is the Edmonton Seedy Sunday, March 18th from 11 am to 4 pm at the Central Lions Seniors Recreation Centre – 11113 113 St NW, Edmonton, AB. Webpage

Finally, we’ll be attending the Lethbridge Seedy Saturday, March 24th, 1-4pm at the Lethbridge Senior Citizen’s Organization gymnasium, 500 11 St S, Lethbridge, AB. Webpage

Our booth will have tools:

and herbal healing products:

  • salves
  • tinctures

Being gardeners ourselves, we’re very excited for the snow to melt away and to get our hands and tools in the soil once again. We hope to see you at one of the markets!

Tools at The Fernie Forge Shop

Fernie Forge is a business based near Fernie, British Columbia and operated by Sandra and Dave Barrett, both master blacksmiths from England. My wife and I had the good fortune of meeting them both during our honeymoon last fall. When we got to talking shop, Sandra expressed interest in featuring some of my work at their gallery, The Eye of the Needle Studio, located in the heart of Fernie’s downtown. It’s a beautiful location that features work from blacksmiths and other artists from around the world. I was honoured that she considered my work good enough to be included in their gallery.

My work on display (and for sale) at the gallery

 

The Eye of the Needle Studio

If you are ever in the Fernie area, I highly recommend stopping by their gallery.

The address is 260 5 St, Fernie, BC, V0B 1M0.

From the website (fernieforge.ca/gallery):

The gallery will be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 to 5:00, Saturdays 11:30 to 5:30. The studio will be open by appointment or by chance – phone Florence (778) 995-9151.

 

The Broadfork: Ultimate Gift for Gardeners

I came across an excellent blog post that summarizes the benefits of using a broadfork in the garden. Gardening season is fast approaching; my wife and I are already giving thought to what we’ll be planting this year, and how we can continue build the soil and infrastructure to make our garden healthier and more productive.

I make two varieties of broadfork. The standard, five-tine variety is the one we’ve been using for two years now and find it makes quick work in our rows. Have a look at it here.

The other type is a professional version meant for farmers of all stripes who make a living from growing green things. That one can be seen here.

The Broadfork: Ultimate Gift for Gardeners

Broadfork Rave Review – Customer Feedback

A neighbour of mine requested I craft a broadfork for her urban farming operation, Guild’s Cage Permaculture, here in Magrath, Alberta. I’ll get right into her review as it clearly shows how effective the broadfork is.

Dear Tim,

I’m writing to sing the praises of your custom-made broadfork. I simply can’t believe I have managed my garden all these years without this tool! It has made my rows a consistent width, which I can now maintain by  continued use of the broadfork in spring and fall. This will certainly lead me to attain my goal of no- or low-dig gardening in the near future. Furthermore, I have never used a tool that is as efficient as the broadfork in deep aeration and subsequent weed harvesting. As I live and garden in the deep south of Alberta, I am constantly waging battle not only with heavy clay soil, but also with the strenuous and resilient grass varieties that propagate through the use of underground runners. Using the broadfork allows me to break up the soil and get well underneath the network of roaming grass roots so I may pull them out with ease. I like having grass and clover in my pathways, as they contribute to soil structure, solidity and increased nematodes, but having to dig or edge the grass out of my rows was a major undertaking in the fall, especially now, as my field garden is nearly 5000 square feet. I have completed over a third of my garden preparation in the past weeks with the broadfork, and will be far ahead next spring, simply for having purchased this tool! I have included pictures of working one of my sections with the broadfork, from weeding to compost topdressing and mulching. Amazing! Thank you!

Sincerely,
Amber Murray, Guild’s Cage Permaculture, Magrath, AB

Amber included the following pictures along with her testimonial:

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Broadfork Rows Freshly Tilled
Broadfork Rows Freshly Tilled

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A portion of the 5,000 square foot urban farm
A portion of the 5,000 square foot urban farm

 

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Row width matches the width of the broadfork
Row width matches the width of the broadfork

 

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Broadfork lifting the soil exposes grass runners
Broadfork lifting the soil exposes grass runners

 

[/span3][/columns]

 

The broadfork comes in two sizes: standard and pro. The primary difference is the width of the fork. Amber wanted the standard version as its width was perfect for the size of garden beds she prefers to work with.

Find out more about the broadfork here.

Find out more about the broadfork pro here.

Contact us to place an order. We ship across Canada and the continental US.

Permaculture Principles and Blacksmithing: Produce No Waste

Produce No Waste

Diverting steel from the waste stream by upcycling rather than recycling or dumping it

The Permaculture Principles Wheel
The twelve principles of permaculture. Source: permacultureprinciples.com

One of the core aspects of my business is diverting materials from the waste stream, in accordance with the permaculture principle of “produce no waste.” The most common way for me to do this is to visit the local scrapyard, auto mechanic or farmer and collect scrap steel which I use to forge into new gardening, homesteading and permaculture tools. Having built a local network of connections, I sometimes am gifted with some incredible chunks of metal, and that always brings a smile to my face.

On the blacksmithing end of things, it’s critical that I identify what uses the scrap steel I get is appropriate for. Tools need to be tough and durable, especially the stuff I make as I want it to last generations, rather than weeks or months. With this in mind, a very important step in my creation process is to test the steel I divert from the waste stream.

The accompanying video shares my system for testing scrap steel for its suitability as tool steel. Specifically, I test an old harrow tooth that was rusting away on an old Saskatchewan farm until a client of mine wanted them repurposed into kama (also known as rice knives). He wants to gift these tools to his brothers and sisters as an imperishable memento of the family farm they grew up on.

Without further ado:

[kad_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/nE4LJf6x27M”]

 

 

Broadfork – Tiller and Harvester

Here’s a short video showing how the broadfork can be used for harvesting as well as tilling. Lorinda wields the broadfork with ease to dig up some monster garlic bulbs from our organic backyard garden.

[kad_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/XPwdABoyAB8″]

 

You can find out more about the broadfork I make here.

 

Smithing at the historic Fort Whoop-up

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be blacksmithing at the Fort Whoop-up interpretative center this summer starting this Saturday, May 20. It’s an incredible opportunity to share the blacksmith’s craft with visitors from all over. The fort represents the late 19th century era in southern Alberta; this will provide a wonderful creative challenge for myself to use only era-appropriate techniques and tools to create. Come say hi and check out all the other events the Fort has planned for the summer.

For more info on the fort, visit http://galtmuseum.com/fort-whoop_up

The forge, great bellows (left) and anvil. Very much looking forward to working here!

Hori hori at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden

I forged a set of hori hori for the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in Lethbridge last fall as part of their commemoration of being 50 years old this year. These hori hori have been forged used reclaimed railroad spikes and hockey sticks, making them a truly Canadian product through and through. Spring is definitely in the air and if you want a hori hori right away, they’re available for purchase at the Nikka Yuko gift shop.

Buy For Life

This is a guest post written by my partner and wife-to-be, Lorinda Peel. Lorinda is an herbalist-in-training and a fellow graduate of Verge Permaculture‘s design certificate program.

For anyone who is concerned with the degradation of our environment, investing in the ‘buy for life’ motto is another high impact action that you can take. The positive domino effect that comes from buying for life is inspirational. When you refuse to consume pointlessly, recklessly or mindlessly, the kickback to environmental stewardship is huge. The benefit to your own immediate environment is positive as well. Imagine how much less clutter you would have if you buy mindfully, purchase only what you need and buy a higher quality product that is made to last.

You are more likely to buy an ethical product when following the buy for life philosophy. Supporting business that invests in and cares about quality is more appealing than giving your money to businesses that will use the cheapest materials that they can get away with. Businesses that skimp on quality will usually implement cheaper labor costs too (which doesn’t have a good residual effect). Employees of businesses that focus on quantity over quality typically have sub-ideal working conditions just so we can have more stuff at a cheaper cost. And this means more stuff that will eventually end up in a landfill.

These businesses don’t talk about the true costs of things, whether it will detrimentally affect our environment or our health. For example, often the cheapest food and body products use the worst fillers and ingredients (think high fructose corn syrup, synthetic trans fats, MSG, or parabens, propylene glycol, formaldehyde), plus support the most detrimental and unsustainable agricultural practices. Purchasing for quality means that you are more likely to support a smaller, and perhaps local, business. Money will be saved when you consciously purchase quality items since you won’t need to continually replace them. You’ll spend more money buying shoes from Payless every year than if you were to buy a high quality, more expensive brand that will last for years.

If we practice the buy for life philosophy now, it can be something that we pass on to our children and the future generations literally and figuratively. Physically in the way of a better environment and potentially an actual product, and also the mentality to follow the idea themselves. Seeing how our population is booming, this seems timely and necessary. Continuing down the path of wastefulness means that we could be drowning in our landfills in the future, causing more contamination to the air, water and land, while recklessly gobbling up our resources. When you invest more into fewer, higher quality items, you necessarily consume less while enhancing overall quality of life.

It will require a little more time initially as it’s important to do some research before spending larger amounts of money on a product. If you are able to find the product locally made this part can be easier as talking to the person producing the product is the most ideal scenario. It will require a bit more investment up front as you will be spending more money on a “buy it for life” item then you would pay at Walmart or the dollar store (or anywhere that you can buy mass produced crap that isn’t made to last). A general rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. When you apply this concept to what you are purchasing, it becomes a lot easier to pay more for organic, local and ethical food, invest in your health and wellness and face the upfront higher cost of a well-crafted item.

Garden tools are something that I’ve started to think of as “buy for life” items. My life partner is a blacksmith who creates durable and beautifully crafted tools. I’ve been using one of his trowels for the past year and it hasn’t cracked, chipped or bent yet, all of which are common occurrences for garden tools when working in the clay based soil of southern Alberta. Made from a vehicle’s leaf spring, the heavy-duty blade has heft and strength. The caragana handle fits just right in the hand and is also made to last. And the tool is a work of art! Each item that he makes is unique, and functionally beautiful.

Occasionally you will see the tools from our grandparents’ generation at a farm auction or antique store. These pieces were made to last. Disposability is a modern invention of our culture that we can choose to let go of. Embracing quality, casting our votes with our purchases and reducing our footprint on the environment are the ways to a healthier future.

Let’s bring this idea back and to the forefront. Buy for good; buy for life.

If you’re interested in investing in a durable, high quality garden tool, visit the Tools page for details.

‘Buy it for life theory’ image is taken from http://www.whowhatwear.com/buy-it-for-life-shopping-theory-reddit

Reforged Ironworks on the Road

Writing a quick heads up here to let you know that I’ll have a booth at several events this spring.

The first event, February 17th and 18th, is at the annual Organic Alberta conference in Lacombe, AB. Very much looking forward to this event and networking with some very neat people!

The second event, March 18th, is at Calgary Seedy Saturday. If you’re in the Calgary area, and you’d like to order a tool and avoid shipping, this is a great opportunity to do so. I’ll be bringing all the tools ordered to date with me to the Seedy Saturday event. I’m looking forward to meeting some of my customers in person.

Finally, I’ll be at the Edmonton Seedy Sunday on March 19th. Again, anyone in the Edmonton area who’d rather pickup an ordered tool instead of shipping it, should give this some consideration.

As for news from the forge, I’ve added a new tool to my production list: the rice knife! It’s a small, lightweight sickle that makes quick work of cutting. Have a look!