On the first of May, Theresa and I visited the Helios Horsepower Farm in Guilford. Though it was sunny, it was one of those early spring days that still held on to the crisp thaw of winter. The chill was made more apparent by the wind that swept around us as we toured the farm and watched Lizzie and Billy the horse cultivate rows and rows of produce beds. Due to the high winds that morning, we’ve had to cut several pieces of the interview, but we hope you enjoy the snippets that were clear enough to share.
Helios Horsepower Farm has partnered with Piscataquis Regional Food Center now for two seasons. They raise produce for our program FarmShare for Homebound Seniors, serving customers in Greenville and Monson. And though we have been partnered with them for some time, we wanted to better acquaint ourselves with their farm philosophy as well as the unique behind-the-scenes of their beautiful farm.
Helios Horsepower farm is located along a ridgeline above a well nestled neighborhood, on High St in Guilford. The farm is certified organic and powered by horse. Their house is that of a well loved farm home. Their produce stand is a lovely natural wood stand with double doors that when opened, list the produce available in a lovely hand-written scrawl.
We started our tour by accompanying Lizzie to the horse barn while Andrea tended to the green house. Lizzie started by brushing Billy, the primary helper horse that pulls a cultivator along the rows to remove the weeds and prepares the beds for transplanting. Lizzie deftly dressed Billy for the job as Theresa and I marveled at the massive draft-horse presence.
Theresa, Lizzie, Andrea and I walked up their ridge to where the garden beds were being formed. Part of Billy’s job is to pull the cultivator. We asked Lizze about the philosophy that motivates her to drive a horse instead of using a tractor. What she shared, which you can hear more about in the video interview, was that it comes down to a quality of life philosophy in addition to the economics. She enjoys driving horses because it allows her to work in the scale of farming that she enjoys. She found out that driving horses on a small scale farm is far more economically viable then one would believe. Lizzie also referenced learning a lot from how the Amish culture chooses to run their food productions. Without the need for new machinery, Lizzie shared their debt is low and their quality of lifestyle matches what they seek in life.
“If I have a choice between riding on a tractor all day or walking behind [Billy], I’ll choose walking behind him! I love driving this guy and his teammate Annie!”