Seven participants of the eight participants registered for the spring 5-Day Contractors Intensive arrived at Stoneyard in Littleton by March 16, just as public health officials began to make clear the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic. One person, coming from Arkansas, decided with the better part of wisdom to postpone participation, concerned that an eventual quarantine would prevent him from returning home to his wife and children. Other participants observed the guidelines, maintaining social distancing protocols.
Throughout the week, Master Craftsman Michael Weitzner led four days of training in the basics of dry stone walling to five professional contractors, a landscape architect, and a retired geologist. Professional Member Ron Neil assisted instruction during days one and two, during which students stripped out an existing wall, sorted stone for efficient rebuilding, and reconstructed the original wall. On day three, test prep day, each person took down and rebuilt 27 square wall feet. Instructor Pete Ryder joined the class on day four, where students got a much needed rest before taking the Level 1 certification test on day five. Topics discussed on day four included shaping stone, foundations, site prep, retaining walls, among others.
DSWA-GB certified examiner and Master Craftsman Jared Flynn arrived early on Friday morning to oversee the Level 1 certification test. All test-takers completed their stints within the seven hour time limit. They passed the test with results that ranged from low to high. Jared noted that the 5-Day Contractors Intensive is far easier for people accustomed as professional hardscapers to sustained physical labor. The retired geologist agreed, noting too that such intensive work appeared easier for the younger men than for two older men. In retrospect, he thought the 2-Day Introduction to Dry Stone Walling and some fundamentals courses would have worked just as well for him.
Jared also remarked that the facility at Stoneyard works well, especially on a day of pouring rain! This was The Stone Trust’s second workshop of the 2020 season, and the last before shutting down for COVID-19. “It was nice that we squeezed it in,” he said