How do you innovate the humble spade?

Liz-Ann-spadeThis is brilliant. How do you take the humble spade – and device that has literally been around for centuries and innovate?

Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger know a lot about tools. They both left careers in public health and nonprofit consulting to farm about 20 years ago, and it was through that experience that they began to see some gaps in the world of agricultural production — gender gaps, that is. They set about re-designing the spade and other farming tools specifically for women.

“At the farmers markets, we got together with other women producers or couples farming, and the topic of tools constantly came up,” says Adams. Women farmers said they felt they were too weak to work with certain tools and regularly expressed frustration with everything from roto-tillers to tractor hitches. But Adams and Brensinger decided weakness wasn’t the problem. “Some of the tools didn’t work because they were designed for men,” Adams adds. “We saw a need for a place where women could go for tools that work for their bodies.”

And as a result, they founded Green Heron Tools in 2008 — to find and develop farming and gardening tools designed to work with the strengths of the female body.