Something we use daily as human beings in probably any context we encounter are tools. From eating utensils to language, tools are invaluable in the way we live. The skillful use of tools allows us to do things we would normally not be able to do. They can make life so much easier. Hopefully I'll come back to a deeper discussion to tools and technology on a latter date.
I just wanted to post the required intern tools as they are super useful for gardening and working in the site we are at. I've come to appreciate quality hand tools more and more, and realizing how much time it takes to learn how to skillfully use them.
Hori hori: a soil knife thats great for digging, transplanting, and cutting weed roots. Its probably a great tool to take on a hike in a satoyama or forest to collect wild food, medicine, and other materials.
Kama: Japanese hand sickle. Its Super sharp and excellent for cutting weeds, especially around fruit trees and other areas that you want precision cutting. Natural farmer Kawaguchi talked about the kama as an essential tool in shizeno. I think its a symbolic tool in contrast to the machines and chemical sprays that characterize much of modern Japanese farming. Doug also mentioned that the thing that impressed him about Masanobu Fukuoka was his skillfulness with the kama.
Secateurs/snips: Great for pruning, grafting (in addition to a grafting knife), cutting wire and twine, etc. Having these around makes me want to prune all the time. A snip here and a snip there. Felcos of Switzerland are the recommended brand at UC Santa Cruz and here at the Bullocks.
Grafting knife (not pictured): a lot of us got Swiss Army style grafting knifes with two different styles of blades. I the defining characteristic of a grafting knife is that it has a single bevel (and super sharp).
The tool belt. Don't leave home without one as you never know what tool your regret not having!
This is my lean version. Some interns have a folding saw, hand saw, knife, and all kinds of other stuff.
In the apprenticeship program at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (UC Santa Cruz), the apprentices are required to have a spade and a fork that they order from Clarington Forge (England). For the Biointensive farming they teach there, these are amazing tools. I've learned to use them quite effectively engaging my knees and keeping my back straight. The apprentices sand the coating of the handle, then rub oil into it to increase longevity of the wood. They also file the spade tip so you can cut the soil and root mats, and skim the soil top with ease (like a big hori hori).
In Guatemala, I worked with a Mayan farmer who pretty much used the machete for everything. I never asked why, but his machete was filed on both sides. When we had to dig post holes 1.5 feet deep, he somehow dug it with his machete as the shovel lied idle on the ground. I really like machetes. When I was living in the tropical dry forest of Guanacaste in Costa Rica, we would use the machete to open coconuts, chop fire wood, prune, cut and clean bamboo, butcher, chase cows out of the garden, etc. mmmmm coconuts.
(This is a picture of coconut oil making in Guanacaste Costa Rica. I think I chopped through 10 mature coconuts, it was hard work! The oil we got from that days labor was later stolen in San Jose Costa Rica with our dirty laundry and other foodstuffs.)