Of Stone Walls & Apples

You just never know what you're going to find on the back roads of Vermont. Did you know that Scott Farm Orchard on Kipling Road in Dummerston (and location for the film Cider House Rules) is home to The Stone Trust, where those interested in all aspects of dry stone walling can come for hands-on workshops or to tour examples of traditional building techniques?

If you were wondering where the only facility in North America is with regular test days for wallers to get certified by the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain, this is the place.

The 1862 Scott Farm historic cow barn (above) is now an Indoor Training Center for dry stone walling.

Inside the barn are dry stone walls in various states of completion. Wallers dismantle and rebuild them to practice the techniques.

Outside and past another barn is a mill pond. Cross a small bridge...

...and on the other side you can explore the Master Features park. 

The walls and structures here are gorgeous. We came on two different fall days to explore the walls and other stonework.

The far end of this wall is in progress.

Up close, you get a little idea how the wall is shaped and built up.

This beautiful wall is a medley of techniques, including tall flat inset slabs that act like immense bookends.

It reminds me of a knitting story about the sweaters of Aran. It used to be that in church each week, the women would check out each other's sweaters, looking for interesting new stitches and patterns and cables to try. The sweaters themselves were the pattern books and inspiration for others on the island. Don't these stone walls seem like similar storehouses of information and fancy?

One side of this is tidy and finished.

On the other side, stacks of rocks are ready to use.

Do stop by The Stone Trust, if you're in the neighborhood some sunny afternoon! Then get some drinks and donuts from the farmstand, housed in the white building shown above. 

Scott Farm itself is pretty fascinating. It's been operating since 1791 and is now owned by Landmark Trust USA, and they grow a wide variety of heirloom apples and can tell you about the history of each one. Two of my favorites are the Sheep's Nose, named for its long, tapered shape, and the Blue Pearmain, a type preferred by Henry David Thoreau. (Lucky for us, Scott Farm apples are also stocked at the Brattleboro Food Coop, so I can buy them in season any time.)

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