Celebrating Farming With Draft Horses at Green Mountain Draft Horse Field Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Vera Chang, vchang@shelburnefarms.org, 917.846.1865

Shelburne, VT, July 21, 2013 – As Lynn Miller of the Small Farmer’s Journal described in the New York Times, an estimated 400,000 operations in North America use draft horses in some capacity. According to the Green Mountain Draft Horse Association, over one hundred farms in Vermont use animal power. A draft horse renaissance is taking root as people become increasingly interested in sustainable agriculture, renewable forms of energy, traditional farm equipment and practices, and greater connection with the land.

On July 27 from 11am - 2pm, the Green Mountain Draft Horse Association of Vermont’s annual field day will take place at Shelburne Farms. This public event is a celebration of farming with horse-drawn equipment. Those who attend will learn more about working horses, as well as meet those who farm or want to farm with draft animal power. Draft Horse Field Day will take place on Poplar Drive, near Shelburne Farms’ Welcome Center.

Since I started working with draft horses, I’ve met many poets,” said Jean Cross, President of the Green Mountain Draft Horse Association and Accounting Assistant at Shelburne Farms. “People who drive are in tune with the animals and natural rhythms. Because you are working with breathing, thinking creatures, you have to be aware of everything around them. When you’re that alert, you end up experiencing more. Using draft horses over petroleum-based equipment also contributes less noise and uses no diesel, making it good for the environment as a whole.”

Those who attend the field day will be able to meet the Suffolk Punch, Haflinger, Percheron, Clydesdale, Shire, Belgian, and other draft horse breeds. Unlike many draft horse show and competition events, all of the horses and drivers at the Green Mountain Draft Horse Field Day are involved in real work: planting, harvesting, sugaring, spreading manure, and even picking up trash and recycling, as a team does in Bristol, VT.  

This year’s field day theme will be wheat production. It will include demonstrations on growing wheat from start to finish – plowing, seeding, reaping, binding, and threshing – with draft horses. The public will be able to see a Shelburne Farms 1910 threshing machine separate grain from the straw of oats that had been harvested with an antique reaper binder pulled by draft horses in anticipation of the program. Butterworks Farm’s Jack Lazor will give a talk about growing wheat in Vermont.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) will have salads and pizza from their mobile oven for sale. This is a family-friendly event. Kids can plant and thresh wheat by hand, participate in a hay bale race, grind maize, and more. The field day also coincides with the 30th birthday party of Dudley, a Shelburne Farms’ miniature Sicilian Donkey who lives at the Children’s Farmyard. Cake will be served. There will also be an opportunity to join for a special behind-the-scenes tour of Shelburne Farms by horse and wagon. This event is free with admission to the property, and the tour is $8. All are welcome.

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Shelburne Farms (www.shelburnefarms.org) is a nonprofit education organization working to cultivate change for a sustainable future. Collaborating with educators, schools, and partners in Vermont, nationally and internationally, Shelburne Farms offers learning experiences to inspire a culture of sustainability. Recognized by Yankee Magazine in 2013 for “Best Hands-On Farm Programs” in New England, and reaching 149,000 participants each year, Shelburne Farms’ campus for learning is a 1,400-acre working farm and National Historic Landmark on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont. The nonprofit is supported by foundations and the charitable contributions of supporters from 44 states and several countries, as well as its enterprises, which include a Certified Humane grass-based dairy and award-winning farmstead cheese operation, a farm-to-table restaurant supported by an organic market garden and pastured meats, sustainable forestry, and a seasonal inn that was a Fodor’s 2012 “100 Best Hotel” for its trendsetting farm-to-inn concept.