Sanborn Mills Farm is a traditional New Hampshire farm and nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainability, creativity, and preserving folklife and agricultural knowledge so that the best of the past can help shape our future.
The farm consists of over 390 acres of agricultural fields and managed forests, and is surrounded by almost 2,000 acres of open space held in conservation. Most of the buildings on the farm date back to the mid-1800s. Two water powered mills – a saw mill and a grist mill – and a historic blacksmith shop, are clustered around two dams at the outlet of Sanborn Pond. The other buildings, which include a large farm house, a cape, several timber-framed barns, and outbuildings, have all been carefully restored.
Extensive ornamental gardens surround the main farm house and organically certified vegetable gardens are worked using traditional gardening practices. Draft horses and oxen provide much of the power work on the farm.
A century and more ago, Sanborn Mills Farm was a bustling, thriving center of activity that supported an extended family and served the many needs of the community. Today, our farm’s dedicated staff of carpenters, draft animal teamsters, mill workers, gardeners, and crafts people preserve a wide range of traditional skills. Workshops are currently offered in blacksmithing and draft animal power. They provide opportunities for people to learn valuable skills and explore how they can be integrated into modern life.
Sanborn Mills Farm is in the midst of planning for the expansion of educational programs in crafts, draft animal power and gardening. Building projects are underway that will eventually provide housing and food service so that people can stay, eat, and create at the farm.
We believe that the knowledge of how to create useful and beautiful things with your hands, how to work safely and efficiently with draft animals, and a connection to the land, continue to be vitally important and relevant for a fulfilled life. Stay tuned as Sanborn Mills Farm moves into the 21st century.
More about our buildings . . .
The farm is studded with buildings of purpose: a sawmill, a grist mill, an antique blacksmith shop, a new horse barn, an 1875 farmhouse, a former horse barn converted into a wood shop, a rescued barn which has been re-erected, a corn crib, an 18th-century timber framed cape, the ruins of an ice house, a new blacksmith teaching studio with 5 forges, small sheds for chickens, and a log shelter for pig.
The water-powered sawmill is up and running and even in deep December the water from Sanborn Pond courses over the upper dam, a comforting sound to take to one’s bed of an evening. We also have organically certified garden areas and hay fields. Woodlots surround Sanborn Pond and the pond’s inlet lies at the upper dam by the grist mill just beyond the lower dam by the saw mill. All told, there are roughly 350 acres of fields and woods, most of which are held in a conservation easement, with ancient farm roads threading through the trees and the remnants of stone walls giving proof of once-cleared pastures. In the spring the wildflowers rise up and blaze briefly, and by late summer the crickets are roaring. In the evenings the distance from city lights allows the ribbon of the Milky Way to remind us of how very tiny we are.
Sanborn Mills from the Mill Pond by Alison Witschonke.