Meet the Directors
Co-Directors Kristen Tool and Chris Wheeler manage Olsen Farm in Lanesborough, MA and started Heart & Soil Collective as a way to give back to the community that helped support them in rebuilding their fourth generation family farm.
Kristen grew up in the forests of Vermont, the daughter of two artists, she was encouraged at an early age to explore and create. She spent many childhood hours building forts in groves of ferns and rescuing red efts from the road. Caring for and stewarding land has been a lifelong dream of Kristen’s and her time working alongside husband, Chris, to restore his family farm has begun to bring those dreams to life.
Along with farming, Kristen has worked as an Early Education Studio Art Teacher, website designer and writer for Mother Earth News Blog. While running an after school program, she hatched chicks in the classroom for multiple years, including the farm’s first clutch of chickens in 2016. Kristen has begun to create a teaching farm at Olsen Farm where children and adults can experience nature, learn about the plants and animals in their backyards, and have authentic hands-on experiences.
Kristen has her BFA in Textile Design and when she is not farming or teaching you will find her creating art using natural, found and recycled materials. She has designed jewelry using turkey tail mushrooms, sustainably foraged from the family lands and paints intricate mandalas on stones removed from the gardens at Olsen Farm.
Chris grew up on the land at Olsen Farm, a Boy Scout for life, he still loves exploring caves in the neighboring Balance Rock State Park and bushwhacking his own trails. This land holds special meaning for Chris as it connects him with three generations of his family passed.
In 2015 Chris moved home to Olsen road and began restoration of his family’s four generation farmlands. Along with forest management, raising poultry and gardening Chris is a beekeeper and is the current President of Northern Berkshire Beekeepers Association. Before he started reclamation of Olsen Farm, Chris was an International Society of Arborists Certified Arborist for ten years, working with Race Mountain Tree Care out of Sheffield MA.
When he is not farming you can find Chris restoring antique axes, Geocaching, foraging for wild edibles or training the farm’s wonderful Australian Shepherds, Aspen and Pepper.