Farming tools, as a general rule, are designed for one group of people: Ablebodied young men. They’re weighted and engineered for people within a limited height and weight range, and that can make them hard for other people to use. Women, disabled people, older adults, and children can all struggle with tools that are too big for them, not fitted to their hands, or designed for bodies that don’t move like theirs. When companies do adapt tools, it often comes with a note of condescension, like pinkified tools for women that are too flimsy to actually use.
Some people, though, are setting out to change that.
Accessible Gardening Tools
More and more companies are jumping on the accessible gardening bandwagon, thanks to the fact that disabled people are getting more active in the farming community and speaking up about how much they enjoy it. Plus, gardening therapy has become a growing trend to help people with occupational and emotional therapy tasks–it turns out that grubbing around in the dirt is good for the body and the soul. Accessible tools for disabled people include tools designed for people with limited motor skills, shorter limbs, pain, and stiffness.
Gardening Tools for Older Adults
Older adults aren’t necessarily disabled, but many share some similarities with disabled adults. Some have limited mobility as a result of arthritis and other diseases of aging, and others have difficulty kneeling at garden beds or bending. Tools designed for weaker hands that have trouble gripping are becoming a popular offering, as are adaptive farming equipment options like raised beds for people who prefer to stand or sit in a wheelchair while gardening.
Gardening Tools for Women
Women tend, statistically, to have lighter builds and less upper body strength. Tools designed for women that factor in these issues are becoming popular with women farmers who don’t want cheap, useless pink shovels. Many of these tools optimize leverage to take advantage of less upper body strength, for example, while others have grips designed for smaller hands. Women-owned farms and community gardens are on the rise in the US, so there’s no time like the present for tools designed by, and for, women.
Gardening Tools for Kids
Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you don’t belong in the garden. While children shouldn’t be working full days in the fields, they still have a right to access tools that fit their bodies and are comfortable to use, whether they’re helping their parents with the family garden or getting involved in community garden allotments. Children’s tools are sized smaller and lighter for young bodies, but they’re sturdy enough for serious work, and they leverage the strength children have so they can feel like they’re making a serious contribution.
With these options and more, selections at the hardware store are a whole lot wider now thanks to the acknowledgement that farming and gardening aren’t just men’s jobs anymore, and that everyone deserves tools designed for their bodies and abilities.
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture