Highland Center Fundraiser Offers Chances to Win Unique Highland Hoe

A fundraiser is under way for The Highland Center in Monterey.  A raffle is being held for a Highland Hoe.

Miles Cary Johnston, Jr. came up with the first design for the hoe.  He got the idea from fire rakes, used in controlled burns and forest fires, to maintain fire breaks.

“We came to Highland and my wife had a flower garden and it was full of rocks,” says Johnston.  “I developed a little tool with a hook on the end of it and she used that to pull up rocks and then I got to thinking about it.  There’s such a thing, what’s called a fire rake, and it has multiple points on it and what a point is, is a cutting edge that fits on a sickle bar mower, which is still commonly used in agriculture.  So, they took these triangular points, as they’re called, and fastened them together on a big rake and they might have ten or fifteen of them.  So, I said to myself why don’t I just take one of them and attach it to the little fork that I’d made for my wife and I did that and came up with a hoe.”

Highland Hoes will be raffled off at the Highland Farmers Market at The Highland Center this month and in July and August.

“In Blue Grass, there was a shop called Hull’s Shop and it was run by a man named Carl Hull and Carl Hull was a highly intelligent person and he was one of these people that could do anything,” says Johnston.  “He was very helpful and the fellow that worked with him, Richard Mullenax, was also helpful. Later on, Patrick Hull came on the scene and he was the same.  And, of course, Barden Warner, who died about a year ago.  Barden, of course, had a big garden.  Later on, Sharon and Henry Harper, they used the hoe and, of course, everybody that used it had suggestions.   And so I kept fiddling with the thing over ten or fifteen years and then about three years ago my wife died and I was in New Kent where we live most of the time.  I had this friend named Bobby Jones and Bobby is a talented machinist and a designer, also, and so I showed the thing to Bobby and asked him to make about twenty-four of them for me.”

The winner of the June raffle will be announced on Friday, June 30, at the Highland Farmers Market.

“All the people around me here in Blue Grass, they helped me,” says Johnston.  “Carl Simmons, Jack and Dean Beverage, they looked at it and gave me suggestions, then Jay Hull.  I’d say it was almost, you might say, a community effort.  We kept improving it over the years and Bobby Jones, he added some touches that make it much more useful.”

Raffle tickets are available at the Highland Farmers Market, which is held each Friday from 3:30 until 6pm  at The Highland Center.  Tickets are $5 each or three for $10.

“I gave them away,” says Johnston. “If somebody visited, I gave them a hoe and so they are all over the United States, one way or another, and I’ve never had a complaint, but of course, I’ve never sold one.”

To see a photo of the Highland Hoe, visit our website www.alleghenymountainradio.org and click on this story.

I’m Bonnie Ralston for Allegheny Mountain Radio news.


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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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