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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in Hergonomics (1)


Gender in the Garden: Tools for Women

One of the fascinating side effects of hiring college students of both genders has been the opportunity for me to observe the subtle differences in the way that men and women attack a physical challenge. Compared to the male workers who used brute force and muscle strength to accomplish their tasks, and who were content to work both alone and in silence, the female staff relied upon endurance and the continuous verbal encouragement of their co-workers.

In a post-feminist world, it is controversy-inciting to speak or write of gender differences in the workplace. However, personal, anecdotal experience suggests that while the two genders are legally, politically, and socially equal, the minds and bodies of each are not always similar in the way that they deal with issues and tasks.

These differences were not lost upon Ann Adams, RN, MSW, a co-founder of Green Heron Tools. In her own words:- women’s bodies are different from men’s in just about every variable imaginable – from upper- and lower-body strength to grip size, from stature to muscle mass and joint flexibility. 

Liz Brensinger, MPH, is the other co-founder of the company and she reports that using tools that don’t fit or, worse yet, work against your body makes tasks harder and also contributes to injuries and chronic conditions such as lower back pain.

With the support of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Small Business Innovation Research grant, that funded two years of research and development, the co-founders have been able to introduce the first HERgonomic - i.e. ergonomic for women – tool, a shovel-spade hybrid scientifically designed to fit women’s bodies and the way women shovel.

As a male gardener, I am unable to test this product personally and my female staff, who might comment upon it, does not return to work until next spring. Instead, I relied upon a Green Heron Tool press release to blog about this product.

D Grip Handle   Unique hergonomic™ shape offers multiple options for hand placement & helps keep wrists in neutral position. Room for both hands = greater control,     Diameter appropriate for women’s hands, resulting in greater comfort & less hand & finger fatigue,  Textured for better grip,  Forward tilt provides added leverage & complements blade angle,  Design incorporates features women preferred in lab and field testing

Shaft   Ash handle provides best strength-to-weight ratio & excellent shock resistance – a strong, durable handle at a relatively light weight,   3 optional lengths make HERS™ truly hergonomic™ – choose the size that matches your height,    Wood is Appalachian Hardwood Verified Sustainable, meaning it comes from eastern U.S. forests where, on average, 2.29 trees are growing for every 1 tree that is harvested.

Blade   Unique design combines features of spade & shovel for maximum versatility,    Enlarged step makes the most of women’s lower-body strength & is safe and comfortable – no narrow blade-top to cut into the sole of the foot. Raised tread ensures good traction,    Made of 16-gauge tempered recycled steel – tough yet 10% thinner for lower weight. Blade flexes under pressure to prevent breakage,  Shaft/blade angle chosen to complement women’s digging style,   Shaft & blade interface is made to last – 6-7 inches  of the wooden shaft are driven into the blade socket, and the two are fastened together with a rivet that goes all the way through the handle for maximum strength & durability.

More information about the tool is available at  and is sold on their website