The Berkshires, formed as they were some 300 million years ago by the collision of the supercontinents containing North America and Africa, have had time to adjust. The intense pressure of the tectonic forces that buckled and folded bedrock into fused slabs has dissipated. Millions of years of rain and wind have eroded the jagged peaks that were forced up. Freezing and thawing have cracked and splintered their surfaces. Slowly life has arrived, with its microbial acids and enzymes, and further degraded the rock until now a thin coating of soil covers it and what were mountains are now not much more than steep hills.
The collision has left its mark, however, in exposed geological formations everywhere. Some have attracted the attention of commercial developers and become quarries and mines, especially the deposits of marble and the mile-wide belts of dolomitic limestone present in 500 to 800 foot thick layers. It was the former of these that brought Pete Salinetti’s family to the area over a hundred years ago.
“They were all from Northern Italy,” he explains, “and were fine stone cutters. They ended up in Lee, Massachusetts, cutting slabs of marble. Nobody sells marble there anymore, though. Now they just blow it up and sell it as limestone!”
Pete grew up in Lee, next door to his grandfather, where his family had an extensive garden. He never thought he would farm for a profession, but he loved to garden and grew ornamentals and perennials, including orchard fruit.