Pittsfield Trail Crew visits Hancock Shaker Village

The crew: Andrew, Ben, Jeremy, Darryl, Anthony and Jovan
AMC's partnership with the Boston Youth Environmental Network has been successful in many ways.  We've provided conservation jobs to youth of Pittsfield, MA, a first job for some of them, and through the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan we've aimed to help them develop a workplace skill set that will benefit them in whatever career path they choose to pursue.  We've developed a strong partnership with the Reconnect Center in Pittsfield, whose staff has helped us recruit and interview the crew members and facilitate mid-season evaluations, and in return we helped them move across town. We are no doubt still indebted to them though, especially to Bryan House for his dedication and commitment to youth.

We've put hundreds of labor hours into revitalizing the trails in Pittsfield State Forest.  The waterbars on the popular (and eroded) Honwee Trail had not been cleaned in many years.  The Taconic Crest Trail was in sore need of brushing out.  We collaborated with the New England Mountain Bike Association in bench-cutting better routes for bikers in the park.  And now we are clearing extensive overgrowth from trails that lead from the Hancock Shaker Village and connect to the state forest.

Hancock Shaker Village is a beautiful and popular historical site in Hancock, a town to the immediate west of Pittsfield.  The 750 acre property served as a Shaker community from 1790 to 1960, and features 20 historic buildings all showcasing the Shakers' trademark craftsmanship.  The property also has about five miles of hiking trails, but overgrowth had obscured historic walls and holy sites and made the hiking experience a little less enjoyable.  

Pittsfield Trail Crew to the rescue!  The crew has already put in three days of heavy brushing with more to come.  In return, Hancock Shaker Village treated the group to a free tour.  Another in a series of exciting new partnerships in the Berkshires!  Big thanks to the crew, Crew Leader Ben Mayer, Village staff, and last but not least don't-call-me-intern Program Assistant Max Crystal for all the great photos!

Todd leading the tour.  The Village maintains an active CSA farm.  The famous round barn is pictured in the background. 
Laura is training this future bull to plow the fields.

The interior of the round barn.  The Shakers strive for perfection.  The inner circle is a ventilation shaft to keep hay from molding.  The circular construction allowed cows hauling the hay to enter and leave without backing up. 

The Shakers had advanced machine shops, powered entirely by water.  Andrew examines a router.

Todd demonstrates routing a chair leg.