Though most of Sal’s work is on our farm, she obligingly took a field trip last Wednesday to Damariscotta, 20 minutes up the coast. There, she – with some help from Hilary and me – plowed a garden plot on the Damariscotta River Association‘s Round Top Farm. This garden will be managed by students at Great Salt Bay Community School (GSB) and much of the produce donated to local food pantries in conjunction with the Twin Villages Foodbank Farm, which is also on DRA land.
Second through fourth graders walked the short distance from GSB to the farm to see Sal in action. We provided some context for the work that we were doing and then students had an opportunity to watch Sal plow and harrow the garden before rewarding her with pets and snuggles. As I’ve seen happen time and again with this charismatic horse, the youngsters were spellbound, and made short work and relaying stories of their personal connections with horses. When I asked them to guess how much Sal weighs, answers varied from ten pounds to 4000. There was a collective “whoa!” when I revealed the correct answer – 1800 pounds – and one young man took mere moments with a furrowed brow to compute how many Sals it would take to equal the weight of his favorite dinosaur (120!): “Anything you need to know about dinosaurs, I’m your guy,” he stated proudly.
For many years, this garden site has been used as parking for large events at the Round Top Farm, so the soil is compacted and has proved difficult to till or turn by hand. Margaret Coleman, former Chewonki Farm Manager and current Agriculture Coordinator at GSB, reached out to the Chewonki farm crew this winter with the idea of using Sal to turn over and break up the soil. We immediately saw the functional and educational potential of the plan and set about to make it happen. It was one of our first days of brilliant sun after what seems like weeks of chilly rain, and looking down from the small garden atop the hill toward the water, it was a pinch-me kind of beautiful. The work was hard but successful, and the horse was a dream. We look forward to future intersections with GSB’s garden program. Perhaps this is the start of a new part-time job for our full-time horse?