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Stone Trust Center VT Season Opener: Homeowners, landscapers, and high schoolers learn the five basics of dry stone walling

The Stone Trust Center Vermont’s workshop season started on the first weekend in April with a 1-Day Women’s Introduction to Dry Stone Walling on Saturday and a 1-Day Intro on Sunday. People’s excitement to learn about the five basic principles of dry stone walling was evident. You brought a variety of experience, from homeowners wanting to build with the stone on your property to landscape professionals, both designers and builders. Despite the storm this week, almost everyone made it out to learn and apply the techniques that result in a structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing freestanding dry stone wall. Both workshops took place inside the Stone Trust Center barn, perfectly set up for less than ideal weather conditions.

The weekend started with the Women’s Intro on Saturday, filled over capacity, with women coming from all over New England. Three women brought backgrounds in landscape architecture and design. Many designers seek hands-on training in order to better understand how to plan and oversee project implementation. In addition, the workshop enticed women working on landscape crews. Employers benefit when employees add dry stone walling to their skill sets.

While few of the women were career-changers, a couple came with the possibility of a professional transition in mind. Ree Davies, newly certified as a Stone Trust instructor, was able to share her story. After attending a 1-Day Women’s Intro in April of 2021, Ree felt compelled to become a dry stone waller. In the last three years, she engaged in numerous Stone Trust workshops, sought mentoring and joined walling crews, and earned Level 1 Waller Certification. In the fall of 2024, Ree earned Level 2 Waller certification, qualifying her to certify as a Stone Trust instructor. In early March, she joined the Instructor Gathering and Certification Training event. Ree joins a small cohort of women in the U.S. (5) who are qualified to teach for the Stone Trust. A couple of women wallers in Canada are also qualified to teach.

Sunday finished the weekend strong with a fully registered 1-Day Introduction to Dry Stone Walling Workshop. Most of the wallers came from around New England, but one traveled from New Mexico to attend the workshop with her mother. Three high schoolers, funded by Bellows Fall Trades. They drove half an hour down I-91 to attend. The storm interfered with full attendanceAlthough a couple of wallers couldn’t attend because of the storm, the group had a great day learning the basics and getting hands-on experience. While a few people have had some landscaping experience, no one in this particular group had experience with building dry stone walls. Again, it was a great combination of people who wanted to work with stones on their property and others who wanted to improve their professional skillsets.

Thank you to Ree and Judy Rand for sharing all of your knowledge and time. One participant said, “[You are] very much appreciated for your clear instruction, patience, and support.” Thank you also to Executive Director, Amy-Louise Pfeffer for providing instructional support and as a great example of achieving Level 1 Certification.

Thank you to instructors, Sam Brakeley and Russell Autrey for making the day fun as well as educational.

And thank you to all participants for bringing your time, energy, and resources to learning some of what it takes to preserve and advance the art and craft of dry stone walling.