Pike Bartlett, founder and proprietor of Friendship Trap Co., used to irritate his wife, Elizabeth-Ann, when he’d harvest vegetables, along with mud and bugs, too, from their garden. “I’d come in and dump them in the kitchen sink and my wife would get upset that I didn’t wash them before,” recalls Bartlett, whose spouse challenged him to solve the problem. “She finally put her foot down and said, ‘No more dirty vegetables in the sink.'”
Bartlett, whose company invented a plastic escape vent for lobster traps and an aluminum chip for lobster trap assembly, did just that. The clam hod, a slatted wooden basket used for harvesting and rinsing clams, seemed the logical model. He used material at hand – pine and small-mesh wire – to fashion a gardening basket for gathering and washing produce.
Frank Simon, a friend of Bartlett’s and co-founder of Great Eastern Mussel Farms in Tenants Harbor, saw marketing potential in the homespun creation. He and the trap builder refined the Maine Garden Hod and the production process before patenting the product now available at garden centers, hardware stores and other outlets in Maine and beyond. The Maine Garden Hod, which is made with Aquamesh trap wire and features a steam-bent oak handle, comes in 1/4-bushel and 1/2-bushel sizes. The hod is being used for diverse purposes from cleaning rutabagas to cradling rolled towels at spas. It sells for $31.95-$34.95 and can be purchased directly through Maine Garden Products Inc. at (877) 764-9365 and ww.mainegarden.com.
– Letitia Baldwin