Hammerstone School teaches Carpentry for Farmsteaders

Groundswell grad Maria Klemperer-Johnson is now a full-fledged beginning farmer, running Hammerstone Orchards with her partner Chad Purdy.  As part of the burgeoning cider revival, they grow exclusively traditional cider varieties of apples for wholesale to local craft cideries, and for you-pick to home cider-makers.

Through the orchard’s sister business, Hammerstone School, Maria also teaches carpentry skills to women and to farmstead operators.  On October 12th and 13th Hammerstone is partnering with local cider makers Redbyrd Orchard Cider (also a Groundswell grad!) to present a two-day class in both woodworking and cider making.

New York state has a rich tradition of cidermaking, both hard and sweet. Unfortunately, recent changes in food safety laws requiring expensive pasteurization of cider have put some local custom presses out of business. Now the easiest way to get un-pasteurized cider, either sweet or to make hard cider, is to press your own. Join veteran carpenter and carpentry teacher Maria Klemperer-Johnson and master cidermaker Eric Shatt to build your own rack and cloth press, learn about the history and techniques of cidermaking, and press your first batch of cider on your brand new press.

 On the first day of class, Maria will guide participants through the assembly of cider presses. Frames are pre-cut and drilled for fasteners, but must be assembled. Racks must be nailed together, and the trays must be assembled. In order to have a functioning press by the following class, any remaining work should be done by participants before the second class. 

On the second day of class, Eric Shatt and Deva Maas of Redbyrd Orchard Cider will teach us all about the history of cider, growing apples, making cider, and different apple varieties. Then we will put our presses to the test, each grinding and pressing enough apples to fill a 5-gallon carboy. At the end of the day, you may optionally join us for a tour of the Redbyrd orchard and pressing facility in Hector (about a 15 minute drive away.) 

Students take home a fully functional cider press, as well as 5 gallons of cider ready to ferment.This popular class is the final event of the Finger Lakes Cider Week. More information can be found at www.hammerstoneschool.com or by calling 607-351-6878.

Topics Covered:

  • Tool use and safety
  • Basic carpentry skills
  • Assembly of presses
  • History of cider production in NY
  • Traditional cider apple varieties (with tasting)
  • Growing apples
  • Pressing cider
  • Fermentation basics