Anne Banks owns and operates Earthborn Garden in Hillsdale, NY (Columbia County). Anne works with Norwegian Fjord horses to plow her fields, saying: "They're economical, they're safe, you can ride them and drive them, so you can have your hobby, your tractor and compost all in one."
"We spread compost, do the plowing and harrowing, we form up beds and then cultivate the paths. They can’t do much work on top of the beds, there’s a huge amount of handwork still left, after they go through. But they also haul firewood and anything else that needs pulling."
"Basically, I think all of farming is about taking the tools you have and using them creatively."
"I like to read the land and see what’s there, rather than coming in with an engineer’s mentality and sculpting it to my desires. So, I grow vegetable in the parts that are less hilly, and I use raised beds because I know that sort of ‘mini-engineering’ makes a big difference to the health of the plants and their survival in some of these rainy seasons. "
"It’s just part of the biodiversity, and that’s a big part of the layout of this place is that I’m using a model that was developed in Oregon from the group called Tilth, where they’re talking about a permaculture system, but also where you have these little micro-ecosystems, and you can see it in the peach orchard, where it’s peaches surrounded by trees. And, they’re on a hill, so they’re shedding the cold on a particularly frosty night. But, that’s one little area."
"And, in different regions you have different wild plants, you have different flora, fauna . Up in the apple orchard, there are some of the old native grasses that are left. So, before I mow anything, I look around to see what natives are there or what useful herbs I can wild-craft out of that spot, and I try to keep those populations growing."
This year (2012), Anne is selling her produce and preserves at three farmers markets: the Sheffield (MA) Market (Fridays 2:30-6:30pm/ Main St. Route 7), Hillsdale (NY) Market (Saturdays 9am – noon/ Hillsdale Hamlet Park) and Chatham (NY)Farmers Market (Fridays from 4 – 7pm/ 15 Church St & Rte 203).