A decade of copper tools
Implementations celebrates 10 years of copper tools in the UK
Implementations is ten years old this autumn, so this is a good time to have a look back and make some castings forward. Jane Cobbald started the venture in 2001, having ordered on Orion spade from Austria and recognising its value. It felt special: as if working with it promised a different relationship with the soil. With no experience of running a business and no backers, she bought some tools with her savings and wondered how on earth she was going to promote this wacky new idea. She was convinced the concept was valid, and kept on telling people about it: in print, in person and at shows. Slowly the word spread, mainly by word of mouth recommendation, and Implementations is going strong in 2011.
The golden plough
The copper garden tools project was inspired by the field trials conducted by the Austrian inventor Viktor Schauberger in the 1940's. The copper-plated plough used in those field trials came to be known as the 'golden plough'. There was a diagram of a strange-looking plough in a book about Viktor Schauberger. Shortly after the launch of Implementations, as a tribute to Viktor Schauberger, Jane decided to try to make the plough, based on that diagram. Over the years a lot of people have asked her about it. Here is Jane’s story:
“An engineer agreed to make a model of a plough from the diagram, and after much difficulty he managed to make a copy. This was trialled at the Biodynamic Association conference, Botton Village in 2004. It almost worked, but not quite. The engineer then moved on to other ventures, I had neither the skills nor the resources to carry on the project myself, and so it was shelved again.
However, various things had been learned. When the engineer and I trialled the plough, one clever man asked - what is your archetype? All we could say was - we copied Viktor's drawing. But we then realised that Viktor had talked about a plough imitating the action of a mole, and this one did nothing of the sort. Some time later, Viktor's grandson Joerg showed me a folder of Viktor's drawings. They were in a completely different style from that diagram we had copied, which made me suspect it was by one of his associates and not Viktor himself.
But there is something else. I now realise that copying someone else's drawings simply won't do, for me anyway. When I am dealing with living things, I want to bring as much of myself as I can to the process. That is what Viktor did and that is why he is such an inspiration. He made a connection with the essence - the life of water - and from that connection had understandings that were not accessible in any other way. He loved the water and the trees and was greatly saddened when the logging flumes he designed were used to denude the mountains. He had a reverence for nature that made it safe for these living processes to reveal their secrets to him. That's how I see it now. It's what humans can do. Then the skills they have acquired in their life determine the applications they can make and what they can do with the understanding.
After that trial, I decided to focus on what I could do, so I wrote a book about Viktor Schauberger, trying to see the world from his perspective. For me now, it is greatly enriching to know I can engage with the natural world in a similar way to the way Viktor Schauberger did. That is the most important part of his legacy for me”.
This year Implementations have reduced their presence at shows, but are happy to report that the number of people offering to sell tools on their premises has increased. They now have seven stockists of the tools in the UK - six in the south of England and one in northern Ireland. They have found that the most successful stockists are people who use the tools themselves and have a value for them. If any of the stockists are within visiting distance, we recommend them.
Jane and Nigel also had the idea of instituting an Implementations Christmas Gift - a donation of a few tools to a charitable or community venture who would appreciate them and make good use of them. Charities are often wary of gifts from businesses, and with good reason. So the only string attached to the offer would be a request that the users of the tools speak as they find after using them, and tell others if they want to. If you know of any ventures that might be interested in such a donation, please let Implementations know.
New tools have gradually been added to the range, and next year will see a few more additions. One simple idea being explored is to offer the Mira Trowel with a longer shaft. They will also test the idea with the Vega Hand Fork.
There are more details of the story of the Austrian side of the venture in the booklet, the Story of Copper Garden Tools. This was recently reprinted, and the story brought up to date and given a new chapter entitled 'It's not just the metal: the tools look different too'. The new edition costs £2 and you can get one free with each purchase of Jane's book about Viktor Schauberger.