A Broadfork for Local Small Farmers

broadfork step and tine detail

Written by Lorinda Peel-Wickstrom

This summer, we forged a custom broadfork for the local farmers at Cartwheel Farm. We’ve been receiving a CSA from Cartwheel for the past three years, and always appreciate their array of organic vegetables throughout the summer. This dedicated little farm is now working to set up greenhouses that will enable them to grow throughout the year; year-round produce is their end goal. Cartwheel Farm is a family operated farm, run by husband and wife duo, Laura and Nigel Francis, who strive to bring healthy food to their community and enhance vibrancy to the land they work with. They provide thoughtfully written newsletters with the deliveries, which include recipes and tidbits such as how to utilize more of the vegetables provided, as well as updates on their gardens and practices. It was from these letters that I learned that I could use carrot tops in my cooking, and I appreciate the recipes and suggestions for the veggies provided. A little inspiration is always good! A big thank you to Cartwheel Farm for what they do, and the nutritious food they provide to us and our community.

broad fork set in the garden

We try our best to support small-scale farmers, as we believe this is one part to maintaining food health and security around us. The huge mono-crop farms run precariously, with their resource use and dependency on many fertilizers and chemicals, and don’t tend to support the health of the land they take from. It feels better to buy from someone who we know is actively engaged in promoting the health of the soil, air, and ultimately the community and environment around them.

broad fork tine detail

And it feels good to create tools that we believe will also add to the health of the land, and symbiotically, the health of those who use them as well. I personally have felt the tremors in my body after running a rototiller for over an hour to till a garden bed, and it was not a pleasant experience. Compared to using a broadfork where you are working in the peace and quiet of the natural surroundings, and in rhythm with your own body, it brings that part of gardening to a whole new experience. Less worms and soil health are destroyed in the process of hand-tilling, and worm health is a key factor in promoting rich soil, with their contribution of tilling (tunneling) and providing one of the best fertilizers around with their poop. Working with a hand-tool also encourages you to reach down and check the soil with your hands, connecting with the microbes in the soil. Another bonus is that it’s a good work-out, and the tool is designed to work in a way where you let the weight of it sink the tines into the soil, rather than having to drive it down. No resources are consumed with the use of hand-tools either.

The Cartwheel Farm family

I believe in the inter-connection of all living beings, and that our intention affects so many things around us. Holding intention for building soil health to grow nutritious food as I work in a less-damaging and resource-consuming manner goes a long way to connecting me to gratitude and abundance, and even staying more present in the moment.

We’re happy to be providing this tool to a farm that shares this love of working with the natural ecology, and with the intention of enhancing the health of the soil. And we hope all of our broadfork customers enjoy using this versatile tool. Not only is it good for preparing garden beds and weeding, but it also works well for harvesting root veggies, and turning soil with compost and mulch after the gardening season. These tools, like all of our products, come with a life-time warranty because we build them to last for generations to come.

broadfork step and tines detail

For those who live in the Creston area, we have this tool for sale at the Morris Flowers greenhouse, and in Nelson at Ellison’s Greenhouse. They can also be ordered via our website, and customized if needed.

Using a Russian Hoe

Weeding: rake just below the soil surface to cut down small sprouts. For deep rooted weeds like dandelion, the long blade and sharp point make it easy to dig the tap root out of the soil without bending down to pull by hand.

Digging: the sharp point and 6 1/2″ long blade make digging into soil or lawn a snap. Use it for edging and digging holes for potatoes or other root crops.

Cultivating: Again, the sharpened edges make cultivating the surface of the soil very easy to do. Since the tool is lightweight overall, and can be sized to fit you properly, there’s minimal stress on the body when working with this hand forged garden hoe.

Furrowing: by drawing the crook of the hoe along the surface of cultivated soil, a furrow is formed for planting seed. The deeper into the soil you press with the hoe, the deeper the furrow.

Starting a new garden bed all with this one tool: Dig the lawn first to loosen it up. Draw the hoe through the first few inches to cut the grass roots. Add compost or organic matter to your new garden patch and cultivate it using the sharpened point and to break up any dirt clods. Form furrows for seeds or dig holes for transplants or tubers. All done with one tool!

Here’s a video showing how three of our tools work well together: the Russian hoe, the broadfork and the hori hori:

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