The Story of Green Heron Tools

Green Heron

Green herons are one of the few tool-using birds. They use a variety of baits and lures, such as crusts of bread, mayflies, and feathers. They then put the bait on the water surface and wait for prey to attack the bait. They stand motionless near the bait until a small fish or other animal approaches and then grab the prey.

-- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web, retrieved August, 2009

Gardening has been a part of each of our lives for many years. Then, beginning around 1995, we took a leap into market growing to support Ann’s son’s gourmet restaurant – what evolved into the region’s first farm-to-table restaurant. At the time, hard as it is to believe now, certain heirloom and unusual varieties of produce were simply unavailable here. We eventually named our operation Green Heron Farms (Green Heron for the birds who sometimes nest in the evergreens on our property, and “Farms” because the domain name was already taken!)

Our goal of expanding Green Heron Farms so that it could sustain us hit two barriers: There were only two of us, both with “day jobs” that had to take precedence for economic reasons; and we lacked the kind of tools and equipment that would improve our efficiency enough to increase production to a level that could sustain us. Meanwhile, we sold at farmers’ markets and joined agricultural organizations such as the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and the PA Women’s Agricultural Network; in talking with other growers, we realized the issue of tools and equipment was more complex than we had initially realized.

Green Heron Farms

To make a long story shorter: We began to research agricultural tools and equipment suitable for women and found, essentially, nothing. That didn’t mean there weren’t tools that worked for women; it meant that seemingly no one had designed any tools or equipment specifically to work with women’s bodies. As a result, Green Heron Tools, LLC was born.

Since then we have been blessed by synchronicities, an amazing and humbling level of support from women farmers and gardeners all over the country, and two USDA Small Business Innovation Research grant.

And in the summer of 2009, a full year after Green Heron Tools was officially formed, one of the greatest synchronicities of all: We learned that green herons are among the only birds on Earth who use tools! Does it get any better than that?!?