This summer we got a chance to visit woodworker and organic farmer Collins D. Heavener, at his studio and farm on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. Many people fantasize about living off the land and honing their artistic craft in a rural paradise, but few share Collins’ talent and drive to work their dreams into reality.
CS: What brought you to Martha’s Vineyard and what’s kept you there?
Collins Heavener: I first washed ashore following a lady friend. But ultimately it was landscape, the people, my friends, the farm–the fact that, by some miracle, I’ve been able to make a living for myself doing two of favorite things–farming and furniture making. That keeps me.
CS: Your favorite kind of wood and why?
CH: I can’t choose a favorite child. Though, Claro Walnut has been making decent grades lately.
CS: What’s the first piece of art you can remember making?
CH: I remember drawing a lot as a kid. Mostly copying the graphics of my favorite skateboards from the latest CCS mag. I’d fill reams of paper with colored pencil drawings with those.
CS: Favorite artists/ Greatest influences?
CH: My greatest influences have by far always been my friends. I mean, there are some pretty incredible people in this world that I and many other people admire, revere, worship, whatever. But for me it’s been the shitheads I grew up skating with in Southern Vermont who influenced me the most. Some of their parents were carpenters and they’d help us build ramps and other stuff to skate. I’d lurk around their wood shops in total awe of the tools and piles of wood shavings. That was the genesis of my interest in woodworking. One of those shithead friends of mine, Israel Lund, is still one of my favorite artists.
CS: Favorite, and least favorite thing about being a farmer?
CH: I love getting to interact with the people who cook and eat our produce. I manage the wholesale accounts and farmers market for our farm so I look forward to making the rounds with my chefs and seeing what they’re cooking up. The market is always a blast, I have a bunch of regulars and friends coming out to say hi, seeing what’s the best stuff coming out of the ground each week. I really like the contrast of the solitude you have in the field and the zoo that is the West Tisbury Farmers Market.