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Steve Nix

Hoedads: The Tool, The Cooperative

By May 28, 2008

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Hoedad Hoedads are hand tools used to plant bare-root trees by the thousands quickly and mainly used by experienced crews. They are designed for steep slopes versus the dibble tool, used mainly on flat land.

This hoedad tree planting tool inspired a name given to tree planting cooperatives of environmentalist tree planters who planted millions of tree seedlings from 1968 to 1994. The most notable cooperative was called Hoedads Reforestation Cooperative and based in Eugene, Oregon. The planters were called "hoedads".

The timber industry and the U.S. Forest Service provided both land and incentive monies during the late 1960's through the early 1990's to encourage reforestation of cutover lands. It opened up opportunities for private contractors to enter the tree planting business. There was money to be made for someone who enjoyed the outdoors, was in good physical health and could plant 500 to 1000 trees per day on steep ground.

Enter the cooperative...

Hoedads Reforestation Cooperative (HRC), the largest of the co-ops was established by a Peace Corp volunteer and thrived as a tree planting cooperative for over 30 years. Independent tree planter contractors were able to make millions of dollars (and plant millions of trees) through this planter-owned cooperative. According to Roscoe Caron, a former tree planter and Hoedad president, HRC was also "instrumental in breaking the males-only ethic of forest work, questioning the wisdom of monoculture reforestation and challenging the liberal use of herbicides."

In celebration of the 30-year Hoedad reunion (in 2001), the Eugene Weekly and Lois Wadsworth compiled some of the most detailed information on Hoedads to date. Read Tree Planters: The Mighty Hoedads, Back for a 30-year Reunion, Recall Their Grand Experiment.

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Comments

June 2, 2008 at 9:09 pm
(1) sarah says:

Great update, Steve! I had the privilege to know some of the folks, and read a book or 2 by the oldtimers–
The Youth Conservation Corps in the 70s incorporated many of the ‘dads practices when they were subcontracted to reforest, too.

October 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm
(2) marion Mlotok says:

yay! your site led me to what i was looking for and a whole lot more! i was trying to remember what crew i worked on way back when. one link led to another. i also just read lois wadsworth’s 2001 article in the eugene weekly and ordered hal hartzel’s book, thanks to you.

oh happy day!

marion in austin, texas

May 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm
(3) Jennifer says:

This is great! May I suggest another picture, however? The one you’re using from the most prominent supplier in the country fails to realize that the blades are mounted on the brackets UPSIDE-DOWN. Not so good from the stand-point of someone who “knows whats up”. :)

October 9, 2013 at 12:43 am
(4) Jonathan says:

The Earp collar really improved ergonomic use of a Hoedag, those pictured above are not Earp brackets.

5th generation Oregonian.

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