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From the Ground Up Farms Visits FOTLL

By Jack Soares

Left photo: Aindrea Romer, Robert Matthews, Jason Romer, Bruce Matthews, and Jenny Lowrey

It all began with an e-mail to the Friends of the Oakland Tool Lending Library (FOTLL) on May 14, 2020: “Hi there. We are opening a tool lending library in Concow, California. That's where the Butte County Camp Fire burned through [in 2018] leaving 58,000 needing to rebuild. We have no idea what we're doing lol, but we know this will help this community. We were wondering if we could come and go on a tour of your facility and see how you do it? There is nothing in Northern California to use as an example. Thank you for your time.” It was signed, “Jenny Lowrey, Executive Director, From the Ground Up Farms, Inc.”

Although Covid and other issues delayed the planned visit, FOTLL volunteers nurtured the contact with phone calls and a steady flow of funding possibilities and other resources. On February 18, timed to coincide with FOTLL’s first-and-third-Saturday-of-the-month Tool Sale, 10am-2pm, on the lawn of the Temescal Branch Library, the Concow crew arrived.

Their first stop was at the home of one of FOTLL’s volunteers where part of the inventory of donated tools it gathers is stored. “We collect all kinds of tools but some aren’t popular — like gas powered tools — or are too big, too heavy, or too specialized to be of interest to the typical Tool Sale shopper,” said FOTLL volunteer Ty Yurgelevic. “Rather than taking up our limited storage space,” he continued, “we’re able to pass those along to other nonprofits.” And pass them along they did.

The Concow crew loaded three 10” table saws, a shaper, four gas weed whackers/brush cutters, two gas and three electric chainsaws, a chainsaw body, a gas-powered lawn mower, a commercial water pump body, various crosscut saws, assorted garden tools, a plastic parts cabinet (parts included), and a gas-powered generator. One of the FOTLL volunteers kicked in a 50 pound box of 16-penny nails and another of two-inch galvanized roofing nails.

Their appetite for donated tools thoroughly whetted, the Concow folks headed off to the Temescal Branch Library and the Tool Sale. There, they sorted through boxes and bins and loaded up with small tools, including a selection of car tools — not least a pneumatic battery cable crimping device (talk about specialized tools!) to share with a mechanic who lost his tools, and his livelihood, in the fire. Dozens of screwdrivers, wrenches, an assortment of hammers, circular saws, chisels, and handsaws were loaded.

Jenny must have said, “Thank you so much,” 10,000 times. They masked up and wandered into the Tool Lending Library to check out the tools on display. One went upstairs to scope out the Library. “We have a Carnegie Library in Chico, too,” he explained.

Another visit is planned for the near future as FOTLL and its team of volunteers check the inventory of donated tools — and their own collections — for more items on From the Ground Up Farms wish list.

If you have tools you would like to donate to the Friends of the Oakland Tool Lending Library for their Tool Sale, contact them at For more information visit

The Friends of the OPL has been FOTLL’s fiscal sponsor since the group started, but FOTLL recently incorporated as a non-profit in the State of California and acquired 501(c)3 tax-exempt status with the IRS.


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