Winter 2015
Cash Crop By Julie McCallum

Unwanted stones become unique serving ware.

It’s the story of a land that grows rocks and the farmers who battle them. American Stonecraft’s story starts a long time ago in New England and the Hudson Valley, where farmers literally grow rocks. Farmers clearing their fields stacked these stones into walls and there are now more miles of stone walls in New England than there are miles to the moon. Although glaciers left these small and large boulders scattered through the topsoil a long time ago, it is the freeze-thaw cycle of the winter seasons that perpetually pushes stones back up. The work of clearing stones is never-ending.

Gerald-Croteau-IIIAmerican Stonecraft is a Lowell, Massachusetts, studio whose mission is to partner with farmers to make beautiful irony of their infamously rocky farmlands. They do it by making custom serving pieces that label the sourcing farm on each good they craft. The value added to these fieldstones provides these farmers with extra income, in turn preserving open space and supporting local, independent farmers (almost four dozen) all across the Northeast. Rather than selling enough rocks to build a wall, farmers can instead use a small number of freshly tilled stones.

Each product they make is labeled on the underside with the name of the farm where they gathered that particular stone. There are slideshows on their website of visits to all of the farms so the people who purchase these products can learn about the farmer whose land their stone came from. This also helps spread the word about the farmers who are still battling the rocky land to provide local food to communities.

Julie McCallum

Julie McCallum is publisher of Gift Shop Magazine. She is formerly the editor-in-chief of the publication, as well as editor of Museums & More, and she has more than 25 years experience in publishing.




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