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Can You Believe the Wall(s) They Built in Just Three Days? Youth & Professionals in Peekskill–Eleven Trained!

In December 2019, Chappy Manzer and two of his crew members learned the five basic rules at a Contractors Introduction to Dry Stone Walling. From that day, he conceived of training for Peekskill youth and professional landscapers/hardscapers. Chappy pursued his vision over the course of three years. Thanks to his persistence, on May 2 eleven young people and landscape professionals  completed dry stone wall training with the Stone Trust. You can see them in the photo above!

Peekskill Professional and Youth Training took place in two stages. Stage one involved members of Manzer’s crew learning how to cut stone for wall ends and copes. You can read about that March training here.

Stage two happened during the first weekend in May. It coincided with the Peekskill Rotary’s 5th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival & Plant Sale. Stone Trust instructors Robert Faraone, Ben Maron, and Ron Neil led three days of introductory training for youth ages 17 to 25. Professional landscapers joined the young people to build a pair of freestanding dry stone walls. Anyone setting out to learn the craft begins by building the faces of a double-face wall.

At the same time, a second crew worked on the four vertical wall ends that finish the pair of walls. Crew two included Manzer’s Landscape crew members trained in the five basic rules of dry stone walling and shaping stone. A second crew of landscapers of Mexican heritage also brought know-how. (Mexico is filled with dry stonework!) Instructors were able to cycle the more experienced wallers from wall face to wall end, making for a diverse learning experience and an efficient build.

Simultaneously teaching two key walling skills on a nonexisting wall makes for an unusual workshop for the Stone Trust. As a rule, you learn how a wall is built by working with a group to take it apart and build it back better. Then you take courses to add skills outlined in our Curriculum in Dry Stone. In planning the Peekskill Youth & Professional Training, Program Committee Chair Pete Ryder brought his know-how as a professional waller to bear on how to teach to two levels of walling to accomplish a complex build in a public space. Thanks to everyone for pulling it off!

Thanks to the students for putting their minds and bodies to learning how to build this sophisticated wall.

Thanks to Chappy Manzer, principal of Manzer Landscape and Development, for persisting in his vision of providing ongoing training for Peekskill youth in dry stone walling. You are helping to preserve the tradition, further the craft, and prepare Peekskill’s citizenry to earn right livelihoods.

Thanks to the Factoria and the Charles Point Marina for furnishing a site for this dry stone wall.

Thanks to Pete for wrapping his heart and mind around this project to ensure it happened.

Thanks to instructors Robert Faraone, Ben Maron, and Ron Neil for bringing their long experience as walling professionals and their skill as teachers. You made sure everyone learned what they came for, and then some!

The Stone Trust is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Manzer’s Landscape Design and Development and with the generous support of the Peekskill Rotary Club and the Lanza Family Foundation to bring off the Peekskill Youth & Professional Training. We hope to see you again!