Freak of the Week is a column that happens nearly every week and features a friend or acquaintance who is doing exemplary work toward environmental harmony. Most of the folks introduced here are friends although suggestions and notes interest are always welcome. This week meet my dear friends,
Matthew & Kyra Hart, proprietors of Overmeade Gardens
940 East Street, Lenox, MA 01240
You can reach us by phone, 413-446-3612
Or, on our website, http://www.overmeadegardens.com
Or, by email, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Who are you? What do you do? What is your line of work?
My name is Matthew “Matty” Hart. During the spring and summer months I farm vegetables with my wife Kyra on our families farm in Lenox. All of our produce is sold at our farm stand, local restaurants and markets. During the winter months I spend as much time as possible in the wood shop as I can, carving spoons and making fan birds along with the occasional rocker or side chair. The woodworking I do is called green woodworking as all of the wood is worked fresh or tree wet, using traditional tools such as axes, knives, drawknives and spoke shaves.
My early life was spent here on the farm. After high school I did a fair amount of wandering around and being as carefree as possible before attending Sterling College in Vermont where I studied sustainable resource management. After Sterling I settled in Northern California where I lived off the grid for a number of years while working for my dear friend Rob who introduced me to finer carpentry and a bit of woodwork. When our oldest daughter was around the age of four we decided it was time to head back east to be around our families and see if we could make a go of it farming.
2. How do you know Crispina? Tell a story – how did you meet? When? Where? Who introduced you?
Like many folk around here I heard of Crispina long before meeting. The first time I remember meeting her was at the Dream Away Lodge in Becket a few years ago, where we were introduced by our dear friend Daniel Osman.
3. Who/what has been most influential in your work?
The green wood workers and carvers of England and Europe are my biggest influence, because of their passion for keeping these wonderful folk crafts alive. I’m inspired that in the midst of this modern world we live in they have somehow kept alive crafts from a time when a hatchet was a tool you couldn’t live with out and everyone’s tools of daily use were still made by someone, not something.
4. If you could (you probably are) send(ing) a message to the world what would it be?
Enjoy life, as best you can, as far as I know, now is it.
5. When and how did you know to follow the path you have chosen?
I haven’t really chosen any one path, though I do really love working wood and farming. When I first started green woodworking I just wanted to make chairs and disliked making spoons. Now I can sit for hours making spoons thinking about the shape and use. Discovering my love for spoon making led me down the path of finding fan birds. There were many first birds that failed and wound up tossed into the kindling pile, albeit in a definite fit of rage. Now I make a lot of birds with few failures and can enjoy it for days on end. I guess I must have known this path a long time ago. It is one of discovering new things all the time.
6. Where do you find your inspiration/motivation to continue?
I get my motivation because I love doing what I do and it’s very immediate. Farming for a living you have very few controls and have to constantly readjust for the changing circumstances. The same goes for green woodworking in that the tools that I use have to be used in a way that goes along with how the wood can be worked, there is this random flow to it. I find the spontaneity of it all really beautiful. Also the satisfaction when people come to our booth at a show and there is just this one spoon that fits perfectly to their hand or the shape is exactly what they are attracted to, then another person comes along and it’s a different spoon for all the same reasons.
7. Aside from working, how do you spend your time?
With my family or taking walks on the farm, the occasional night out to see our friends up at the Dream Away. I do really enjoy a few minutes when time allows for chicken gazing. We have a flock of fourteen birds and if you have never had the opportunity, chickens are hilarious to spend some time around.
8. What is one of your fondest memories? Why?
Meeting my partner Kyra. When I met Kyra I was young and I knew that my life had changed forever especially when we had our little girl. But Kyra and I do almost everything together, we farm together and we work in the woodshop all winter together and she is a part of everything I do. For having the friendship, relationship, mutual aspirations and goals it’s just beyond words.
9. Do you have a prized possession? What is it?
I have a great fondness for my carving tools. I get to watch them age with use and develop more character over time. That they will outlast me and hopefully be of good use to someone else down the road gives me great joy. They hold onto the years of work in a very quiet beautiful way. There was this one adze that I purchased second or fourth hand, the edge was all warn back and the hand had been fashioned out of a bent branch of hickory so the grain was lined up perfectly, I guess its just the story that these tools hold if you know what you are looking for.
10. Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience?
Sunrise coming up over the White Mountains in the middle of winter viewed from the summit of camels hump in Vermont.
11. If you were able to prepare a meal for anyone – dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to discuss with that person? What would you serve?
My Grandfather, Doc Baver. I would want to just talk to him about his history to get a sense of who he was. He is something of an enigma to me as he passed the same year that I was born. What I know of him is that he grew up on a large farm in Pennsylvania before becoming a doctor and serving in Burma during world war two. He later moved to the Berkshires and was the medical advisor for western Massachusetts and was one of the last to do house calls and accept bread as payment for medical treatment. It was his missing land and farming that led him to purchase the farm we are on now from one of his patients whose husband had passed and couldn’t keep everything going. He is a piece of my history that truly shapes my life that I know very little about. I would serve something fresh from the garden along with a good steak and some red wine.
12. What is your favorite color?
13. What place is your favorite travel destination?
The ocean is a favorite destination, any ocean will do but some where on the pacific coast is especially nice.
14. What is a goal or focus for your next 12 months?
My focus for the next twelve months is to enjoy my life as best as I can and do good work along the way. To spend time amongst friends and family and share the food from our garden and our woodwork with the community we live in.
15. How would you like to be different from who you are now, in 10 years?
I would like to either gain or loose wisdom which ever is more beneficial. I would like to do the things that I do with out any worry of gain or loss and just be doing them because that’s what I do and I enjoy it. I would like to take part in helping people understand the tools and other products that can be created from their local woodlands into items of daily use or beauty.
16. Paint a picture of your legacy. How would you like to be remembered or thought of?
By a few old kitchen tools, a fan bird in a window somewhere and a rocking chair in the corner that someone’s great, great grandchild can’t remember where it came from.
17. Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please.
You can find us at Overmeade Farm, 940 East Street, Lenox, MA, 01240. The farm stand is open June thru October.
Or at the Lenox Farmer’s Market every Friday from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at Shakespeare and Company, 70 Kemble St. May 24th thru October 11th.