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


Old Southern Apples

Old Southern Apples

By Creighton Lee Calhoun

A book that became an instant classic when it first appeared in 1995, Old Southern Apples is an indispensable reference for fruit lovers everywhere, especially those who live in the southern United States. Out of print for several years, this newly revised and expanded edition now features descriptions of some 1,800 apple varieties that either originated in the South or were widely grown there before 1928.

Author Lee Calhoun is one of the foremost figures in apple conservation in America. This masterwork reflects his knowledge and personal experience over more than thirty years, as he sought out and grew hundreds of classic apples, including both legendary varieties (like Nickajack and Magnum Bonum) and little-known ones (like Buff and Cullasaga). Representing our common orchard heritage, many of these apples are today at risk of disappearing from our national table.

Illustrated with more than 120 color images of classic apples from the National Agricultural Library’s collection of watercolor paintings, Old Southern Apples is a fascinating and beautiful reference and gift book. In addition to A-to-Z descriptions of apple varieties, both extant and extinct, Calhoun provides a brief history of apple culture in the South, and includes practical information on growing apples and on their traditional uses.

Available in: Hardcover

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Old Southern Apples

Creighton Lee Calhoun

Hardcover $75.00

Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

By Sepp Holzer

Sepp Holzer farms steep mountainsides in Austria 1,500 meters above sea level. His farm is an intricate network of terraces, raised beds, ponds, waterways and tracks, well covered with productive fruit trees and other vegetation, with the farmhouse neatly nestling amongst them. This is in dramatic contrast to his neighbors' spruce monocultures.In this book, Holzer shares the skill and knowledge acquired over his lifetime. He covers every aspect of his farming methods, not just how to create a holistic system on the farm itself, but how to make a living from it. Holzer writes about everything from the overall concepts, down to the practical details.In Sepp Holzer's Permaculturereaders will learn:

  • How he sets up a permaculture system
  • The fruit varieties he has found best for permaculture growing
  • How to construct terraces, ponds, and waterways
  • How to build shelters for animals and how to work with them on the land
  • How to cultivate edible mushrooms in the garden and on the farm
  • and much more!

Holzer offers a wealth of information for the gardener, smallholder or alternative farmer yet the book's greatest value is the attitudes it teaches. He reveals the thinking processes based on principles found in nature that create his productive systems. These can be applied anywhere.

Available in: Paperback

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Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

Patrick Whitefield, Sepp Holzer, Anna Sapsford-Francis

Paperback $29.95

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist

By Michael Judd

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist is a how-to manual for the budding gardener and experienced green thumb alike, full of creative and easy-to-follow designs that guide you to having your yard and eating it, too. With the help of more than 200 beautiful color photos and drawings, permaculture designer and avid grower Michael Judd takes the reader on a step-by-step process to transform a sea of grass into a flourishing edible landscape that pleases the eye as well as the taste buds. With personality and humor, he translates the complexities of permaculture design into simple self-build projects, providing full details on the evolving design process, material identification, and costs. Chapters cover:

  • Herb Spirals
  • Food Forests
  • Raised-Bed Gardens
  • Earthen Ovens
  • Uncommon Fruits
  • Outdoor Mushroom Cultivation, and more . . .

The book’s colorful pages are filled with practical designs that Judd has created and built over years of workshops, homesteading, and running an edible landscaping business. Though geared toward suburban gardeners starting from scratch, the book's designs can be easily grafted to the micro-habits of the urban landscape, scaled up to the acreage of homesteads, or adapted to already flourishing landscapes. Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist is a tool to spark and inform the imagination of anyone with a desire to turn their landscape into a luscious and productive edible Eden.

Available in: Paperback

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Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist

Michael Judd

Paperback $24.95

Getting Started in Permaculture

Getting Started in Permaculture

By Ross Mars and Jenny Mars

Permaculture experts Ross and Jenny Mars outline the steps to transform your garden into a productive living system. Modeled upon the development of Candlelight Farm, and illustrated with photographs, this guide encourages the reader to make positive steps towards reconciling human impact with nature - following the permaculture ideal.

Permaculture is based on the ethics of caring for people and our planet. It is about growing your own healthy food, being resourceful and environmentally responsible. Permaculture concepts and ideas can be applied successfully from small suburban units to large farming properties.

Getting Started in Permaculture delivers step-by-step knowledge for a variety of useful projects including: making herb fertilizers, compost, organic sprays for pest control, and much, much more. It also includes how to recycle your soft drink bottles, waste paper, and tires in a number of useful projects such as ponds, fruit fly traps, retailing walls, and solar stills.

As part of Permanent Publications Simple Living Series, this practical and accessible guide for gardeners of all skill levels serves as an ideal introduction to the world of permaculture.

Available in: Paperback

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Getting Started in Permaculture

Ross Mars, Jenny Mars

Paperback $14.95