Ulster County Tool Bank enables those who lack them to borrow old, used tools that have been refurbished (video)
Some people have too much of everything; others have too little of anything.
The Ulster County Tool Bank, in an effort to support clean, safe local food and community sustainability, has created a tool share network to prevent old and used tools from ending up in the landfill and to put them into the hands of those who need them.
Tool Bank is a special project supported by the Tools Share Network, a group of people involved in the Transition Movement, a national effort that emphasizes self-sufficiency, local food and resources to depend less on foreign oil.
“This project has been in my mind for months,” said Wolf Bravo of Rosendale, initiator and project manager.
“Young farmers don’t have enough tools and can’t afford to buy new ones. The Tool Bank, as one of its features, will support them,” he said
“The goals are to localize the community, support farmers and gardeners who need tools and produce clean, safe food in our communities,” he said.
“We’re collecting old or unused tools from people in the community who have too many,” Bravo said. “The Tool Bank will lend them seasonally to new farmers, gardeners and those who lost their tools during last summer’s hurricane and flood,” he said.
Bravo said the Tool Bank cannot accept gas or power tools this year.
“We’re focusing on hand tools now. Depending on the lessons we learn, we may expand the Tool Bank,” he said. Continued...
“We also do not want people to buy new tools to donate to us,” Bravo said. “That defeats the spirit of the Tool Bank — to recycle and reuse.”
Bravo said tools in good condition will be loaned on a first-come, first-served basis. At the end of the growing season, loaned tools will be returned to the Tool Bank to allow the bank to loan them to new borrowers the following season.
“We know there are lots of tools in people’s basements, garages and sheds that they never use. Others, who can’t afford tools, can,” Bravo said.
“It’s a beautiful thing and a great feeling to help others by caring about them,” he said.
The tool bank will accept the following: saws, rakes, shovels, picks, forks, spades, trowels, watering containers, push mowers, scythes and carpentry tools, as well as buckets, wheelbarrows and seed spreaders.
The tool bank cannot accept tools that are completely rusted or in need of welding, but broken handles are needed and accepted.
“We are also looking for material to fix broken tools, such as wooden handles and hickory, ash or maple branches or logs,” Bravo said.
Bravo said the consortium plans to follow up the tool collection with a series of reskilling workshops to teach community members how to repair tools during April, May and June.
“We can fix many of these tools to give them new life,” Bravo said. “We can clean rust from the metal and give the tool a new handle so it looks like a piece of art,” he said, showing the new, beautiful handles he has made for several old tools.
“If we get enough broken tools, we can repair them and get them into the hands of new farmers,” Bravo said. “Reusing and recycling gives them a new life.” Continued...
“People who fix a tool during one of the workshops will be able to keep it,” Bravo said. “Or, they can donate it to the Tool Bank for someone else to use.”
He said if people bring their own tools to the clinics, he will teach them how to repair the tools so they can become clinic trainers themselves.
The Tool Bank is looking for people to teach the repair clinics, or someone who takes the workshop may want to teach a subsequent clinic.
Locations of the community-based clinics to date are the following:
Clove Valley CSA: 81 Clove Valley Road High Falls. Contact Aileah Kvashay, (570) 762-2872, http://clovevalleycsa.org/
Tweenfontein Herbs Farm: 4 Jenkins Road, New Paltz. Contact Jens Verhaegh, (845) 636-8218, http://www.youngfarmers.org/youngfarmerprofiles/2011/05/30/tweefontein-herb-farm-new-paltz-ny/.
Participants may repair tools that will become part of the lending tool bank, keep tools under the You-Fix-It, You-Keep-It program, or bring and repair their own tools.
The Tool Bank has only a few guidelines. “It’s an evolving project and we’ll learn as we go. Nothing is set in stone,” Bravo said.
“We don’t want to force the idea,” Bravo said. “We’ll let it go where it wants to go.
“And, not knowing how to do something will not deter us. We’ll learn as we go along,” he said. Continued...
Bravo said the loaned tools would be signed out with a return date around Thanksgiving, or the end of the growing season.
“The loans will be based on the honor system,” Bravo said. “If you borrow it, you return it. If you want to keep a tool, come to the repair clinics,” he said.
“Besides all sort of farming tools, gardening and carpentry, we will need fencing, metal posts, hoses, shaving horses for the classes, rain barrels, hoops tunnels supplies’, chicken wire and things like that,” Bravo said.
Even though this is a start-up project with no anticipated outcome, Bravo said, “We are learning by doing. Not knowing is not an excuse for not taking action.”
Tools may be dropped off until the end of May at the following drop collection sites:
• High Falls Food Co-op, lower parking lot (845) 687-7262);
• Marbletown, High Meadow School (845) 687-4855);
• New Paltz, Tweefontein Herb Farm, 4 Jenkins Road, next to the front porch of the white farm house (Jens, (845) 636-8218;
• Woodstock Library, (845) 679-2213; and
• Kingston, South Pine Street City Farm, South Pine Street, Kingston, www.southpinestreetcityfarm.org.
Bravo, in addition to repairing old tools, made the crates in which donated tools may be left.
Further information may be obtained from Bravo at (973) 207-9869 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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