Chelsea Green Publishing

The New Horse-Powered Farm

Pages:368 pages
Book Art:Full-color illustrations throughout
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584166
Pub. Date March 05, 2013

The New Horse-Powered Farm

Tools and Systems for the Small-Scale, Sustainable Market Grower

By Stephen Leslie
Foreword by Lynn Miller

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
March 05, 2013


In an era when fuel is a primary concern, draft horses are seen by many as the solution to small-scale, resilient farming with a closed-loop system. Horses bring farmers back to the roots of what it means to work the land and present a viable model for a small farm that lasts, while offering enjoyment for the whole family. This is the first book of its kind, offering wisdom and techniques for using horse power on the small farm or homestead, from longtime horse farmer Stephen Leslie.

The New Horse-Powered Farm sets the stage for incorporating draft power on the farm by presenting tips on getting started with horses, care of the work horse, different horse-training systems, and the merits of different draft breeds. The novice teamster is introduced to the basic tools of horse-drawn tillage and cultivation used for profitable horse-powered farming, with a spotlight on whole-farm management, as well as information on haying with horses, raising small grains, managing the woodlot, farm education, agritourism, and more.

Incorporated throughout are profiles of more than a half-dozen farms that epitomize some exciting new trends in agriculture and highlight the new and old horse-drawn equipment used for profitable market gardening, including contributions directly from the farmers about what works and what doesn't. The novice teamster is introduced to the specifics of horse-drawn tillage and cultivation of the market garden, and using horses in the woodland. Recent studies on the economics of horse-powered market gardening and a comparison between horse-, human-, and tractor-powered systems have been included to help round out the picture. The resources section lists contact info for teamster schools, books, draft-animal publications, annual events, equipment manufacturers, parts and repairs, and more. A must-have for any farmer, homesteader, or teamster seeking to work with draft power in a closed-loop farming system.


Publisher's Weekly-

"How many citizens of the 21st century know that a teamster is someone who drives workhorses? Leslie—a former art student and monk turned small-scale farmer—is part of a growing revival of horse-powered farming, and in this comprehensive, thoughtful guide, he dusts off archaic terms and demonstrates how he and others are reviving and revising traditional skills for a postmodern era of rising oil prices, soil loss and degradation, and climate change. The author covers horse selection and care; working and communicating with horses; training horses and drivers; old, repurposed, and newly created tools; and uses for horse labor on a small farm. Leslie also offers economic comparisons to tractor- and human-powered farms. Perhaps most importantly, he draws on stories from contemporary horse-powered farms to demonstrate both the satisfaction and difficulties of living in a work relationship with animals. 'The lively presence and wonderful mix of personalities the workhorses bring adds a richness of relationships that makes the farm without animals seem sterile and lonesome in comparison,' Leslie writes. This will be compelling reading for the enthusiastic and idealistic young farmers in the local food movement."

ForeWord Reviews-

"As homesteading and back-to-the-land movements gain momentum, many people are drawn to small-scale farming, where they feel more connected to the earth and its rhythms. Although there are plenty of cutting-edge tractors and implements available to them, sustainability-minded growers are gravitating toward more traditional methods for cultivation and farm maintenance, and often that means employing horses.

In his outstanding guide The New Horse-Powered Farm, Stephen Leslie covers a wide range of topics that will help many readers feel more comfortable about introducing horse labor into farming and gardening. With his comprehensive, crucial presentation of best practices, it’s likely that Leslie will serve as informal mentor to thousands more.

Leslie backs up his advice with extensive experience; he and his wife manage an organic farm in Vermont, and he previously served as an apprentice at a biodynamic farm in upstate New York. His book has its origins in a series of articles Leslie wrote for Small Farmer’s Journal about working with Fjord horses, which he expanded into a thorough, useful guide that will shepherd farmers through choosing a breed, basic horse care, training horses, making compost, and plow usage, among other topics.

Also well articulated are topics on growing, including use of plastic mulch, seeding cover crops, and planning vegetable fields according to horse-powered harvest methods. Throughout, Leslie includes numerous photos that illustrate his main points and some of the horse breeds and harness systems that vary from farm to farm.

In addition to handy sidebars with plenty of tips, Leslie includes commentary from other farm owners, making the book into a rich compendium of opinion and advice.

Fascinating and exceptionally well written, The New Horse-Powered Farm is a major work that deserves to be on the shelf of every small-scale market grower, whether they use horses or not.

Although he covers an variety of technical information—right down to thoughts about the tongue length for implements pulled by draft ponies—Leslie writes in an accessible style that’s understandable to the layman. When he veers slightly into the realm of sustainability issues like water retention and soil conservation, he introduces an idealistic tone without sounding dire or political. He simply believes in what he’s doing, and conveys his beliefs with passion and commitment."

Library Journal-

"Readers will quickly find this work, far from a nostalgic look at using horses to farm, to be an excellent, practical guide to incorporating horses into sustainable farming practices. Leslie has used draft horses to farm and garden for several years and currently manages an organic farm at the Cobb Hill Ecovillage in Hartland, Vermont. In this comprehensive work, the author successfully covers the selection of draft breeds (from minis to full size) based on the amount and kinds of work to be accomplished, types of harnesses and hitches (single and multi-horse), advances in horse-powered equipment, best practices for creating fertile soils and working the land for a variety of crops, necessary training for both humans and horses, the economics aspects, and other uses of horses on the farm. The book includes  numerous stories of how horses have been incorporated into a variety of production systems by farmers other than the author, further demonstrating the variety of ways in which human, horse, and tractor systems can be combined to create more sustainable farming systems. VERDICT This book is highly recommended for both public and academic libraries, particularly those in rural settings."

"I applaud Stephen Leslie’s important new book, a volume that combines information about good farming and working with animals. This volume moves animal power forward yet another step."--Lynn Miller, from the Foreword

"Many equate draft horse-powered farming with tilting at windmills, a laudable but unrealistic ambition. In this book, however, Stephen Leslie demonstrates that draft horse power is ideally suited to vegetable market farming. Indeed, this comprehensive treatment of the subject provides the beginner or transitional farmer with the resources needed to succeed, as Leslie takes no shortcuts in his research and presentation of material."--Joe Mischka, editor & publisher, Rural Heritage Magazine

The New Horse-Powered Farm is a thorough and practical book for anyone considering horse-powered farming. Stephen Leslie knows and understands what he writes about because he walks the talk. This is an extraordinarily comprehensive guide for anyone interested in horse-powered farming, and clearly shows how to get started, from the selection and care of the different horse breeds, training the horse and the teamster, soil fertility, plowing, tillage, seeding, and harvesting, to managing pastures and making hay. As a lifelong horse-powered farmer, I learned a lot from reading this book.”--David Kline, founding publisher of Farming Magazine


Stephen Leslie

Stephen Leslie is the author of The New Horse-Powered Farm, published by Chelsea Green in 2013. He began his farming career in 1992 at Hawthorne Valley, a biodynamic farm in upstate New York, where he worked for three years as an apprentice. Since then, in partnership with his wife, Kerry Gawalt, he has made his living farming and gardening with draft horses. Currently, Stephen and Kerry and their daughter, Maeve, own and operate Cedar Mountain Farm, a Fjord-horse-powered CSA and Jersey-cow dairy at the Cobb Hill Cohousing in Hartland, Vermont. Stephen is a regular contributor to the Small Farmer’s Journal and Rural Heritage magazine.


Horse-Powered Farming for the 21st Century

Horse-Powered Farming for the 21st Century

By Stephen Leslie

With contributions from more than 60 contemporary draft-animal-powered farmers and equipment manufacturers 

Now is a time of exciting new developments for live animal power. As the numbers of adherents to this way of life grow, ecologically minded farmers in their fields are developing efficient horse-drawn systems, and equipment manufacturers in small shops all across North America and Europe are coming forth with new innovations in ground-drive technology that have us poised on the cusp of another agricultural revolution—with working horses, mules, donkeys, and oxen at the heart of it.

Stephen Leslie’s first book, The New Horse-Powered Farm, presented an overview of the many facets of running a small, diversified farm with live horse power. Horse-Powered Farming for the 21st Century is focused entirely on the tools and methods required to successfully manage the horse-powered market garden with draft animal power. However, this is not a step-by-step how-to guide outlining one single system, but rather a manual that presents a range of options and approaches. Leslie examines the function and use of all the implements typically employed on a contemporary draft-animal-powered market garden and illustrates these points with insightful reports from the field, farm profiles, and home-built solutions contributed by over sixty draft animal-powered farmers from across North America and Europe.

Each teamster’s story represents a patch in a quilt that is woven together with a narrative thread to guide the reader through the whole fabric of the growing season, from soil preparation to harvest. The book structure follows the seasonal progression of implements, beginning with several examples of contemporary draft-animal-powered produce farms; next an examination of the versatile utility of forecarts; then taking an in-depth look at fertility management on the farm; moving on through primary and secondary tillage, seeding and transplanting; then on to the multifold options for cultivators, tool carriers, and multipurpose implements, with technical harnessing and hitching details for the best use of the implements. For experienced teamsters and beginning market growers farming with horses, this is an invaluable and one-of-a-kind guide, sure to last forever in the agricultural canon.

Available in: Hardcover

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Horse-Powered Farming for the 21st Century

Stephen Leslie, David Kline

Hardcover $45.00


Episode 75: Four Corners


Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD)

Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD)

By Eric Toensmeier

Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs, need no annual tilling or planting, yet thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season.

In this DVD—a culmination of workshops recorded in Mexico, Florida, and Massachusetts—plant specialist Eric Toensmeier introduces gardeners to more than 100 species of little-known, underappreciated plants. Ranging beyond the usual suspects (asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke) to include such delights as ground cherry, ramps, air potatoes, the fragrant spring tree, and the much-sought-after, antioxidant-rich wolfberry (also known as the goji berry), Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest, and cook with plants that yield great crops and culinary satisfaction. Toensmeier also takes viewers on a plant-by-plant tour of his garden in Massachusetts.

In Toensmeier's book, Perennial Vegetables (Chelsea Green, 2007), the adventurous gardener will find information, tips, and sound advice on less-common edibles that will make any garden a perpetual, low-maintenance source of food. In his book, readers will find perennial vegetables are perfect as part of an edible-landscape plan or permaculture garden. Profiling more than a hundred species, with dozens of color photographs and illustrations, and filled with valuable growing tips, recipes, and resources, Perennial Vegetables is a groundbreaking and ground-healing book that will open the eyes of gardeners everywhere to the exciting world of edible perennials.

Available in: DVD

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Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD)

Eric Toensmeier

DVD $29.95

The Backyard Berry Book

The Backyard Berry Book

By Stella Otto

Here's hands-on advice from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower to help gardeners create an edible landscape. The Backyard Berry Book provided all the information that backyard gardeners need to grow strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, lingonberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, and kiwi fruit. Includes details on soil nutrition and testing; disease, pest, weed, and bird control; and trellis design. A trouble-shooting section and seasonal activity calendar will help ensure success.

Available in: Paperback

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Paperback $17.95

Gene Everlasting

Gene Everlasting

By Gene Logsdon

Author Gene Logsdon—whom Wendell Berry once called “the most experienced and best observer of agriculture we have”—has a notion: That it is a little easier for gardeners and farmers to accept death than the rest of the populace. Why? Because every day, farmers and gardeners help plants and animals begin life and help plants and animals end life. They are intimately attuned to the food chain. They understand how all living things are seated around a dining table, eating while being eaten. They realize that all of nature is in flux.

Gene Everlasting contains Logsdon’s reflections, by turns both humorous and heart-wrenching, on nature, death, and eternity, all from a contrary farmer’s perspective. He recounts joys and tragedies from his childhood in the 1930s and ‘40s spent on an Ohio farm, through adulthood and child-raising, all the way up to his recent bout with cancer, always with an eye toward the lessons that farming has taught him about life and its mysteries.

Whether his subject is parsnips, pigweed, immortality, irises, green burial, buzzards, or compound interest, Logsdon generously applies as much heart and wit to his words as he does care and expertise to his fields. 

Available in: Hardcover

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The New Organic Grower

The New Organic Grower

By Eliot Coleman

With more than 45,000 sold since 1988, The New Organic Grower has become a modern classic. In this newly revised and expanded edition, master grower Eliot Coleman continues to present the simplest and most sustainable ways of growing top-quality organic vegetables. Coleman updates practical information on marketing the harvest, on small-scale equipment, and on farming and gardening for the long-term health of the soil. The new book is thoroughly updated, and includes all-new chapters such as:

  • Farm-Generated Fertility—how to meet your soil-fertility needs from the resources of your own land, even if manure is not available.
  • The Moveable Feast—how to construct home-garden and commercial-scale greenhouses that can be easily moved to benefit plants and avoid insect and disease build-up.
  • The Winter Garden—how to plant, harvest, and sell hardy salad crops all winter long from unheated or minimally heated greenhouses.
  • Pests—how to find "plant-positive" rather than "pest-negative" solutions by growing healthy, naturally resistant plants.
  • The Information Resource—how and where to learn what you need to know to grow delicious organic vegetables, no matter where you live.

Written for the serious gardener or small market farmer, The New Organic Grower proves that, in terms of both efficiency and profitability, smaller can be better.

Available in: Paperback

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Eliot Coleman, Sheri Amsel, Molly Cook Field

Paperback $24.95