first published in the December 2021 Equiery

Abby Gibbon, owner and operator of Fine Idea Farm in Howard County, recently was named Conservation Farm of the Year by the Howard Soil Conservation District.

by Abby Gibbon, Fine Idea Farm
Beyond humbled to be named the Conservation Farmer of the Year by the Howard Soil Conservation District, especially since agricultural conservation is an issue near and dear to my heart. Only hold on a sec, because the “real” champion of this story isn’t me but my awesome neighbor and lifelong friend Kristen Parris, whom many of you know as a badass eventing and dressage rider/trainer.

Somehow Kristen also jam-packs her days doing extremely meaningful work with the Soil Conservation District, and it was Kristen who reached out to me after I posted a hilariously sad selfie on Facebook a few winters ago, icicles hanging from my hat after breaking ice out of water troughs on a sub-freezing day. Turns out the Soil Conservation District helps farmers like me design and install amazing things like freeze proof automatic waterers, a project that would not have even been on my radar as a new farmer, for whom the overheads of starting up are more often than not astronomical.

Over the years, Kristen and the SCD have helped me implement a few new practices that have not only changed my life in terms of workload, but helped the horses, helped me keep employees and clients happy, and reduced strain on the environment, which will help keep this farming operation viable for years to come.
Conserving and protecting farmland is extremely environmentally vital, and we must support our farmers through programs like these — a program I didn’t realize even existed.

I was excited to host Howard County Council members and Senator Katie Fry Hester for District 9, on DATE to talk about the importance of the equine industry in our area, and I will continue to do my part as a member of the Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, and as new Associate Member of the Soil Conservation Board. If you’d like to learn more about any of these programs, please hit me up!

But most of all, I’m beyond grateful to my fellow Howard County Pony Clubber Kristen for introducing me to these resources. You are doing great work, I’m so happy we’re neighbors, and so in awe of the amazing things you do! Horse girls can truly do anything — thank you!!