While Berea is a liberal arts college—not a craft or art school—it is home to the country’s longest continuously operating broomcraft workshop and carries on an American craft tradition that’s rarely practiced today. In the article, Chris Robbins, director of Berea College’s broomcraft program, estimates there likely are less than 200 people worldwide who make brooms by hand for a living. Yet brooms seem to be having a renaissance, he said, perhaps due to a market trend for handmade items or to the popularity of the Harry Potter book series (Berea has a “rocket broom” in its product line). More than 60 brooms were ordered on the morning the article appeared.
The broomcraft program, which typically has 10 student workers, is one of about 120 departments on Berea’s campus that employ students as part of the College’s labor program. Every student at the College works at least 10 hours per week earning money and learning hard and soft work skills.