The torrents of rain did not stop us from taking a roam around some lovely fields and barns at Stone Horse Farm this week and we are excited to share with you about Lauren and Sean, who are using old-fashioned -- but oh, so impressive -- horsepower to cultivate their land!
SVHC: How long have you been producing or growing in Cortland County?
SHF: We have been growing for two years, we are currently going into our third season.
SVHC: Growing food or producing food products cannot be an easy task to take on, why engage in this type of lifestyle?
SHF: We know that it is not an easy task but it needs to be done! Both Sean and I value healthy food and an active lifestyle. We began our farming experience by starting an urban farm with Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments (VINES) in Binghamton and ran a youth program for city youth to learn how to grow food for a subsidized CSA program. Since we moved to the Marathon area we have been farming with draft horse and mule power. We had never farmed this way before and we were lucky to have the opportunity to experiment with draft animals.
SVHC: What products or goods do you make or grow?
SHF: We grow a good mix of vegetables -- tomatoes, artichokes, onions, potatoes, pumpkins -- and dry beans (black, kidney and cannellini beans). We have recently begun using herbs to make lip balm, lotions and salves.
SVHC: What has been your biggest joy as a local grower?
SHF: Knowing that our farming practices co-exist with wildlife. Farming with draft animals has been a fun challenge for us as we value the ability to reduce the amount of fossil fuels in our food production.
SVHC: What has been your greatest challenge as a local grower?
SHF: We both work off-farm jobs so finding the balance of farming and working is our greatest challenge.
SVHC: If you could tell your community one thing, what would it be?
SHF: Explore what is produced in your foodshed and challenge yourself to learn to cook seasonally. (PS. A foodshed is the geographic location that produces the food for a particular population. The term describes a region where food flows from the area that it is produced to the place where it is consumed, including the land it grows on, the route it travels, the markets it passes through, and the tables it ends up on.)
SVHC: How can the community purchase your produce or connect with you and Sean?
SHF: You can find us on Facebook or connect with us through email -- firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also excited to be planning for a Pumpkin Palooza on Saturday, October 13th (rain date October 20th). It will run from 12-4pm and we will have horse-drawn wagon rides, U-pick pumpkins, pumpkin carving and decorating, and a farm store open for you to purchase harvest goodies. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more info as the time gets closer!