Back when Jenny Barger had a successful career in sales—in a “pencil skirt and high heels,” she says—her dad, Mike, was working as a tree surgeon. It pained him to watch whenever a beautiful urban hardwood (black walnut, cherry, oak) couldn’t be saved and was sent through the chipper or hauled off to the landfill. It was so disheartening to both of them that in 2016 they decided to do something about it—and Live Edge Detroit was formed. Thanks to the sawmill they built, 500 dead and dying trees from Detroit’s urban forests are now cutting boards, mantelpieces, doors, benches, and bars. You can even track your favorite neighborhood tree from the greenbelt to the mill and buy a select cut on-site. “You see the beauty in the raw material,” says Jenny, who now runs the company and works the mill. “But then you see the reward in the finished products.”
Favorite Carhartt Gear: Mike has been wearing the same Carhartt work jacket for 25 years. Jenny favors the Sandstone Sherpa-lined Sierra jacket. “The wrists are snug, so I don’t get sawdust up the sleeves. And the lining is extra warm. It’s hard to find winter work apparel for somebody my size.”
In this 4-part series, Carhartt teamed up with Outside to recognize, thank, and tell the stories of a group of hardworking people that don’t often get appreciated for the work, dedication, and long hours they put in. The series also includes two brothers who are providing humanely-raised meats to area restaurants in Detroit, a woodworker turning exotic hardwoods into works of art, and a second-generation surfboard maker. To shop Carhartt, click here.