GHT in the News
As Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger began to expand their kitchen gardens into a full-fledged farm in 1995, they faced an unanticipated challenge: a lack of farm and garden tools that fit their bodies. Through conversations with other farmers in the Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Network, they soon realized the problem was widespread. There were no viable options for farm tools designed by women for women. In 2008, Adams and Brensinger founded Green Heron Tools, a company that develops farm tool specific to the needs of women farmers. Food Tank recently spoke with Adams and Brensinger about their work.
Green Heron Tools makes ergonomic shovels and other tools designed to reduce injuries and make farming more efficient for all women. By Stephanie Anderson Witmer for Civil Eats (April 5, 2016)
When Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger started a small heirloom vegetable farm in the early 1990s, they called their new venture Green Heron Farms, after the birds that nested in a copse of trees on their property in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania. The name would turn out to be a form of kismet, as green herons are some of the few birds that use tools.
Court Squires on Sourceress, The Magazine for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (March 2015)
Some people fear innovation, others dig right into the dirty, underbelly of entrepreneurship, searching for a way to grow their idea, cultivate their brand and, if lucky, mobilize a movement. The women behind Green Heron Tools, out of New Tripoli, Pa., do all of those things -- in spades. Pun intended. They applied public health, grant writing and farming
The Green Up Girl (Nov. 19, 2014)
Talking Hergonomics™ with Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger owners of Green Heron Tools. Discover why these tools designed specially for women are easiest, safest, more comfortable, and most effective for women.
Let’s Face it, Women’s bodies are different from men’s and our tools should be, too. Ladies, this means no more struggling with heavy cumbersome tools that are hard to use. Listen to this podcast to learn more and visit www.greenherontools.com to check out their amazing tools.
Presented by Eileen Fisher (Nov. 12, 2014)
Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger are being honored by In Her Company, a campaign celebrating the power, creativity, and impact of 30 inspiring small businesses—and the visionary women leading them.
When former nurse Ann Adams and former health educator Liz Brensinger discovered the glaring absence of outdoor tools built to work well for women, they knew they had to act. In 2008, they created Green Heron Tools to help right what felt like a wrong—letting a traditionally male-dominated industry exclude women by design.
Lois J. deVries on Garden Products Review (Nov. 4, 2014)
Advertised as being "HERgonomic®," the HERShovel was designed by women for women, already a step ahead of most such tools in my view. Because women’s bodies are significantly different from men’s, a tool that’s ergonomically designed for men is not necessarily right for women.
HERS® is a hybrid tool that combines the features of both shovel and spade, designed with women’s bodies, height, and digging style in mind.
MaryJanesFarm (October-November 2014 issue)
Longtime farmers Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger, of New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, know firsthand that it can be tough for a woman to wield the same tools as her fellow male farmers.
"At the farmers’ markets, we got together with other women producers or couples farming, and the topic of tools constantly came up," Adams told Modern Farmer. "We saw a need for a place where women could go for tools that work for their bodies."
Derek Markham on treehugger.com (July 16, 2014)
It's about time that farm and garden tools broke out of the 'one size fits all' model, and these two women farmers are bridging that gender gap with tools designed specifically for women.
We may all be equal, but we're not all equally sized or proportioned, and because of the differences between women's bodies and men's bodies, the tools that work well in a man's hands may not be nearly as useful to a woman. According to Green Heron Tools, women's bodies tend to have a lot less upper body strength, less lower body strength, a lower center of gravity, proportionally shorter limbs, smaller hands and less grip strength than men's bodies, which means that a 'one size fits all' shovel isn't nearly as efficient or easy to use for a woman.
But thanks to the work of the two women farmers behind Green Heron Tools, women now have another choice when it comes to farm and garden tools, in the form of the HERShovel, which was scientifically and specifically designed for women's bodies.
Rita Pelczar in The American Gardener (July/August 2014 Issue)
THE GOOD NEWS is that the longer we garden, the smarter we become about growing plants well. The bad news is that the longer we garden, the more our bodies object to the hard labor that’s required. Lifting pots, spreading mulch, turning compost, and digging planting holes are not activities for weaklings. My gardening ambitions often exceed my physical stamina, so I welcome tools that help me work more efficiently and comfortably.
Ergonomically designed tools aim to reduce muscle and joint stress by keeping the body in a neutral position. Many are lightweight and include features that maximize power by using the large arm and leg muscles so as to reduce strain on the smaller muscles in your wrists, shoulders, and hands. Using tools that suit your body size is important for maintaining proper posture and protecting your back from injury. And properly sized, padded grips increase both stability and comfort.
Darby Minow Smith on Grist.org (July 11, 2014)
When it comes to products designed for women, the field is full of bubblegum-colored toolkits and dainty pens. "Shrink it and pink it" tends to be the default philosophy of the men wearing ties (presumably uttered as they do Mel Gibson impressions around the boardroom table).
So what happens when the product designers have no Y chromosomes and don gender-neutral polar fleeces instead of suits?
You get Green Heron Tools and a batch of farming and gardening tools that are actually useful for women. Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger founded the business after farming for 20 years and noticing the tools didn’t quite work for their bodies.
Deborah Huso on ModernFarmer.com (July 9, 2014)
Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger of New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, 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.
"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."
Bob Tedeschi in The New York Times (June 11, 2014)
No one said it would be easy, but here are the tools that make it possible. New York Times writer Bob Tedeschi used a large HERShovel™ to dig his new patio. He says HERS "suits men and women"
Janet Hall, of The Handywoman (May 7, 2014)
Until I stumbled upon Green Heron Tools, I thought all gardening tools were created equal. Gardening tools marketed to women just meant shades of pink and mint and plenty of florals. Not so, say Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger, the founders of Green Heron Tools, the first company dedicated to providing gardening tools and equipment specially designed for women. According to Adams and Bresinger, most gardening tools are made with men, or at least with man-sized bodies and man-sized strength, in mind. These two farmers set out to change that. The result? The HERShovel, a tool designed for women, by women.
Tooling Around: Former produce growers discovered "a gaping niche" in the farm tools market. They filled it with equipment designed specifically for women.
Deborah R. Huso, in The Progressive Farmer (Feb. 2014)
Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger are no strangers to identifying and working to meet community needs. The two worked in nonprofit consulting with a focus on organizational development for many years before joining the world of agriculture. "We helped agencies identify community needs and meet them," Brensinger explains.
Thus, it's no small surprise when the two began growing and selling produce, they noticed some gaps in the world of agricultural production. "At the farmers' markets, we got together with other women producers or couples farming, and the topic of tools constantly came up,"...
Therese Ciesinski, in Green Scene Magazine, a publication of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (Jan.-Feb. 2014)
In rural New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, there’s a quiet revolution underway. It is led by two women who, tired of the status quo, said "enough." The weapon of resistance is a garden shovel. But the war isn’t against The Man. The war is against The Man’s tools.
The leaders of the movement are Ann Adams, a nurse, and Liz Brensinger, a public health educator. When they couldn’t find garden tools designed for women, they invented one. It is a combination garden spade/shovel called the HERShovel™.
Megan E. Phelps, in Mother Earth News (Dec 2013/ Jan 2014)
If you’re a female gardener who finds the average shovel just a little too large and awkward, you’ll appreciate the innovative HERS shovel-spade hybrid made by Green Heron Tools. This Pennsylvania-based company specializes in ergonomic tools for women, and offers a range of implements--from wheel hoes to hand plows--made to work well for those with smaller frames.
The shovel comes in three sizes, with recommendations on which to order based on your height. It’s also designed to take full advantage of your leg muscles, with an angle and enlarged step on the blade so you don’t have to rely as heavily on your upper-body strength. This tool is lightweight, sturdy, and easy to work into the ground. At $65, it’s not cheap, but it may be one of the most worthwhile garden tools you ever buy.
Bob Tedeschi, in The New York Times (July 2013)
Perhaps no tool epitomizes the old one-size-fits-all approach to gardening tools as much as the shovel. Ms. Ruch said she had heard good things about, but had not yet tested, the HERShovel designed for women.
HERShovel was developed by Green Heron Tools, a Pennsylvania-based start-up led by two women who enlisted the help of ergonomic researchers and female farmers. The result is a shovel with a D-shape handle, a shorter shaft and an angled blade that features oversize areas for foot placement. The makers say the design accounts for the fact that women rely more on lower body strength when shoveling.
The shovel weighs about four pounds, and comes in three sizes. I’m 6-foot-2, and the large version worked fine for me; I liked the handle as much as the one on the Transplanter Pro, and both were considerably better than my old dinosaur shovel (p. 2)
Alta LeCompte, in Las Cruces Bulletin (June 2013)
Although drought has made weeds scarce this summer, some insist on popping up in our desert gardens.
To make matters worse, most arrive protected by a powerful will to live. If they’re caught early, they can be pulled. If not, they send down tenancious vertical roots that defy any amount of effort. Typically they break off at ground level then sprout a fatter, more resistant stem.
Valerie Easton (June 2013), in the Seattle Times, Pacific NW Magazine
WHEN IT comes to staying safe in the garden, it's all about preventing injuries in the first place. You don't want to waste time recovering from a sore back because you couldn't resist moving that heavy pot by yourself, or a twisted ankle from stretching beyond your center of gravity to prune just one more limb. Especially this time of year, when we're scrambling to keep up, and all we want to do is accomplish one task and then the next.
Eileen Fisher (November 2012)
EILEEN FISHER, the women's clothing retailer, today announced the recipients of the 2012 EILEEN FISHER Business Grant Program for Women Entrepreneurs. Now in its ninth year, the Business Grant Program is awarded annually to wholly women-owned businesses that are innovative and foster environmental and economic health in their communities. The committee received more than 1,600 applications and awarded grants to five businesses.
Sanne Kure-Jensen (November 24, 2012)
Working carefully, taking care of your bones and muscles, helps extend the years you can keep doing what you love: farming, gardening and living well. “Good body mechanics are critical,” said Ann Adams & Liz Brensinger, from Green Heron Tools, in a webinar hosted by the UVM Extension New Farmer Project.
Lisa Kivirist of Hobby Farm Home (March/April 2012)
While the number of women farmers increased by a record 30 percent between 2OO2 and 2007, according to the last USDA Census of Agriculture, you wouldn't know it by the farm tools available at most retailers. Most items, particularly hand tools, are still designed with the male body in mind.Read the entire article (pdf)
Cindy Briggs, staff/volunteer of the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati (March 2012)
I have fallen in love with a shovel. Finally.
As an able-bodied woman of average height and weight and shape (pear, thank you very much), who is perfectly capable of double digging a garden bed or digging a deep hole for a tree or shoveling mulch and/or cow manure into a wheelbarrow (in fact, likes to do such things) if given a satisfactory shovel, I have found myself, all of my gardening life, tossing man-sized shovels into a corner after a couple of hours of work, muttering off-color epithets, and reaching for Tylenol. The typical shovel...
Therese Ciesinski of Organic Gardening (Jan 2012)
Try to name some gardening tools made specifically for women. Pink ones don't count. Think of any? If you did, tell Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger of New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, because they'd like to sell them. In 2008, they founded Green Heron Tools to offer high-quality, sustainably made gardening equipment to women gardeners and farmers. But they ran into a snag that sounds like the setup to a joke: Two women start a company to sell women's tools, then can't find any to sell.
Green Heron Tools goes international! HERS & GHT founders Ann & Liz are featured in the December issue of the Japanese magazine SPUR. The piece, written by L.A.-based journalist Miho Nagano, is the lead-in to several other articles about women, farming & the food supply.
Cathie Draine, member of the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and the Garden Writers' Association (Nov 17, 2011)
There are a number of reasons why I am a fan of (well, ok - addicted to) excellent garden tools. I want something thoughtfully engineered of superior materials, easily maintained and correct for the task. I also want a tool that will not hurt me. I prefer not to be cut, sprained, broken or otherwise muscularly impaired by some piece of the daintily decorated junk tools most often marketed "especially for women."
And then, I received information about the new HERShovel developed and marketed by Liz Brensinger and Ann Adams of Green Heron Tools in Pennsylvania...
by Claire Gordon, AOL / Huffington Post (Sept 12, 2011)
When Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger started farming as a side job in 1995, they couldn't produce enough food. They wanted better tools. A rototiller that wasn't so unwieldy. A shovel that they could easily plunge into the earth. Farm equipment was designed for men, they realized, and men's bodies were different.
Why, they asked, does chicken feed have to come in 50-pound bags
Interview by Megan Phelps, Mother Earth News (Feb 14, 2011)
The owners of Green Heron Tools talk about their research on women and tool use, and the need to design farm and garden tools with women in mind.
Ann and Liz, who both come from public health backgrounds, have been examining the general problem of how to make tools more ergonomic to prevent injuries. But their main focus is on a specific issue: Helping women find farm and garden tools that are better suited to their needs. This means tools that are appropriately sized for a woman’s height and arm length, but also tools found to be more ergonomic and efficient, based on field testing by female farmers and gardeners.
I recently followed up with Ann and Liz to learn more about their business, and their research on women and tools. Here’s what they had to say...
by Margaret Gates, Regional Editor of Lancaster Farming News(October 30, 2010)
When Liz Brensinger and Ann Adams started Green Heron Tools, they thought they would simply pool together in one place all the tools available specifically for women farmers. Only one problem — there weren’t any. And so began the odyssey...
"lf you want something done,. do it yourself." The idea that that well-worn expression might apply to us and the design of agricultural tools and equipment would have struck us as crazy just a few years ago.
by Leah Zerbe, Rodale.com (April 2, 2010)
Women make do. That's what they do. When something doesn't work, they make it work; because at the end of the day, things need to get done. And the garden is no exception. As ladies have twisted, pulled, pushed, and toiled in the soil over the centuries, they've done so largely with the aid of tools designed for men.
"The Invisible Woman - or, Should Women in Agriculture Be Forced to Work with Tools Designed by and for Men?"
by Liz Brensinger, Co-owner of Green Heron Tools
Women, Food & Agriculture Network, Quarterly Newsletter (Spring
Book? Movie? Superhero? How about farmer? (Better yet: farming superhero!)
Despite the vital and ever-growing role of women in agriculture and the passionate advocacy of groups like WFAN, there’s at least one area in which women farmers have remained practically invisible until very recently: the realm of agricultural tools and equipment.
by Mary Shepherd, Farmers' Markets Today (February 10, 2010)
Green Heron Tools was created as a vehicle for supporting women farmers by providing better, more appropriate tools and equipment.
Tools designed for women are becoming a reality, thanks to the vision of two women, Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger, of New Tripoli, PA. In fact, they have stated their mission on the internet for all to see:
To provide high quality agricultural and gardening tools and equipment designed to work with women's bodies, thereby maximizing comfort, efficiency, productivity and safety.