On Reinventing the Wheel

About the author: Mr. LongArm is proud to partner with The Urban Farmers, an all volunteer nonprofit whose mission is to help bring nutritious fresh produce to those less fortunate. The following is a blog from the groups co-founder, Siamack Sioshansi.

by Siamack Sioshansi

The tool that we use every day is readily available from any major hardware store. It comes with metal, fiberglass or wood handles at reasonable prices. This is the story of why we reinvented the fruit pole picker, and like all good stories it has a surprising and heartwarming ending.

Hello, my name is Siamack Sioshansi, and I’m co-founder of The Urban Farmers, an all-volunteer hunger relief nonprofit organization. Our volunteers harvest excess backyard fruit for donation to the needy. This is fun, outdoor work that’s done by a diverse group of people, from 10-year-old girl scouts to college athletic teams and groups of senior citizens (watch video here.)

When we started this work, we bought several picking poles. Right away, the poles became the center of attention. They routinely jammed. When it was hot or cold outside, the handles were uncomfortable. Some of the poles when extended, would slip, and if we dropped them or put moderate pressure on the center of the poles, they would bend, making the poles useless.

Before the end of the first season, the tools caused so much problem that we trashed that investment. With the benefit of that experience, we bought several fiberglass and wooden tools to test and quickly returned them all.

What’s problem? 

Fruit picking poles are designed for homeowners and casual harvesters that use the tool once of twice a year. Most of the time, the tool sits idle in the shed.

We use the picking poles year round. The tool must work in the rain, and under the blazing sun, and to be blunt, withstand punishing abuse delivered by volunteers who mean well, but are often using a picking pole for the first time.

Before shopping for a solution, we came up with this list of requirements. The fruit picking pole that we need must be:

Comfortable because volunteers use them for several hours at a time.

Strong so it can pull fruit as heavy as grapefruit off of a tree

Lightweight so a 10-year-old student can use it

Extendable for reach where needed

Secure at any extended length

Durable because we watch our money carefully.

TUFPic3We asked around, tested several options and finally found Mr. LongArm 3208 Pro-Pole that we attach to Ace Fruit Picker Head TR20090. We have been using this combination for three years, and the significant change that I see is that the poles are not an issue anymore.

Steve Jobs used to say “You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.” When it come to working with your hands, the tool you use effects not only your productivity but the quality of the work you do.


Here is the best part of this story. Three years ago we bought 100 Mr. LongArm poles, and we love the poles. This year when we needed to expand the project, I wrote to Mr. LongArm requesting a price quotation. Mr. LongArm looked at what we do and decided to get in the action. Instead of sending a price quote, they sent 125 Pro-Poles, and if that was not enough, Mr. LongArm paid for the shipping costs.

The Big Question

If I had not written this guest post, you would have never known about this act of generosity. The big question is why a company located in Missouri would help a nonprofit organization located in California?

To quote Tom Stoppard, the English writer, “Obviously, you would give your life for your children, or give them the last biscuit on the plate. But to me, the trick in life is to take that sense of generosity between kin, make it apply to the extended family and to your neighbour, your village and beyond.”

Help Your Community

As you can see, Mr. LongArm has reached across the country to help others. The Urban Farmers share this value with Mr. LongArm. We believe the poor and the needy in your community are as important as the ones in our backyard.

We have developed a “jump start” package where we will give any serious group the necessary support from legal structure to training to software tools to finding volunteers at no costs. If you are interested, please contact us at www.theurbanfarmers.org. We will be happy to help you start a backyard harvest project for your community.

If you want to take part in the action by helping us, please make a donation of any amount. One hundred percent of your donation will be spent to harvest fruit for the poor.



Want to make your own workhorse of a fruit pole picker? We published the instructions on Instructable and to my surprise, it received an Editor’s Award. Check it out.


TUFPic2 copy

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