Spadework

Good Organic Gardening|July - August 2020

Spadework
LET’S LOOK AT GARDENING IMPLEMENTS, THEIR HISTORY AND VARIOUS USES AS WELL AS CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Jo Immig

Can you tell a spade from a shovel or a scythe from a sickle? Gardeners all over the world have their favourite tools but not many make a study of it.

From their travels to traditional farming communities around the world, Jude and Michel Fanton of Byron Bay have assembled an impressive collection of tools, many handmade. They also keep an eagle eye out for interesting tools at garage sales and have even been bequeathed precious tools.

The Fantons are well known for their pioneering work in seed saving in Australia and indeed globally. They crowd-funded before it was a thing and self-published the first edition of The Seed Savers’ Handbook in 1993, a bestseller they have recently updated and reprinted.

In the early 1990s, at a time when big agriculture was buying up and patenting seeds around the world, the Fantons established the Seed Aid Trust as the charity arm of the Seed Savers’ Network, aimed at helping farmers and displaced people protect their heritage seeds and gardening traditions.

They started a program of advice and training to establish seed-saving networks in many countries including the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia and Malaysia, India, Afghanistan, Japan, Cuba, Ecuador, Italy and Portugal.

During their travels they always visited local markets and sought out tool makers.

“Many of the tool makers I’ve met from around the world proudly tell me how they’ve managed to send their children to school and university with the money they make from selling handmade tools,” says Michel. “It’s quite incredible.”

TOOL TIME

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July - August 2020