LOWELL, MA (October 8, 2014) – Anyone who has tried to plant a flowerbed in New England knows about the region’s infamously rocky soil. It is also true that most anyone who drives down a New England road will see quintessential stonewalls winding landscape. Not many are aware however, that the two New England characteristics are closely related.
Farmers built (by hand) more miles of stonewall in New England than there are miles to the moon. But they didn’t craft these structures out of masonic pursuit— they built them out of desperation! The region’s earth is scattered with stones dropped by glaciers thousands of years ago. Every year, the freeze-thaw cycle pushes new stones to the surface. You can imagine a farmer’s dismay when, after clearing his fields of hundreds of boulders, he finds dozens more in the very same field the following year! Farmers soon began to adapt to their annual struggle against a land that grows rocks. They started building stonewalls for need of somewhere to put all the burdensome fieldstones!
After hundreds of years of farming, these rugged holdouts are still here growing provisions in New England. Now however, Sweden farmers have finally been relieved of their stony encumbrance by none-other than a small art Studio in Lowell, MA: American Stonecraft.
About American Stonecraft:
American Stonecraft is a nine-person Lowell, MA studio telling the story of a land that grows rocks, and the farmers that battle them. We do this by making a line of serving wares: coasters, slabs, and bowls, from fieldstones gathered at rocky New England farms. On the underside of each good we create, we permanently label the stone's farm name, location, and a link to a website slideshow of the farm and gathering process. Our work is sold by the Gift, Home, and Specialty Food retailers in 47 US States, Canada, and Mexico.
Farmer Dan Cousins of PieTree Orchard in Sweden, ME may not know what to do with his fieldstones, but these artists sure do! American Stonecraft has begun hand-gathering the unwanted stones from PieTree Orchard and transforming them into one-of-a-kind serving ware. The group currently makes food slabs, coasters and bowls in an effort to transform a once burdensome material into a highly profitable product. Once the transformation is complete (the fieldstones are sawn, polished, sealed and labeled with their farm province) the American Stonecraft team will return the stones to PieTree Orchard. “Dan can offer these works of functional art for sale at the farm” Says Gerald Croteau, Founder of the Studio. “The popularity of these pieces has been amazing. They make wonderful Holiday gifts and the profit generated from them will help support PieTree Orchard to continue growing beautiful provisions for the Sweden community!”