a Saturday in February of 2000, I was fortunate to hear Eliot
Coleman give a presentation entitled "The Four Season
Harvest". Afterwards I purchased a copy of his
research document, "The
Harvest Manual" and even got him to sign my copy.
At the age of 26, Eliot Coleman read Helen and Scott Nearing's
(the pioneers of the back-to-the-land "good
life" movement) book, "Living
the Good Life" and it changed the course of his life.
He planted his first garden in 1965 following the methods the
In 1968, he sought out the Nearings and purchased sixty acres
from them. This land was everything that he suggests not to farm
- steep, stony, heavily treed, and very acidic. Gradually, he
cleared acre after acre and his house had neither electricity
nor a phone. For ten years, he and his first wife Sue grew and sold organic vegetables.
Mr. Coleman has written extensively on the subject of organic
agriculture since 1975. As a commercial market gardener
and lecturer on organic gardening methods, he has practiced and
perfected his methods and skills.
Although one of the primary people behind the early, grassroots
organic revolution, once the federal government took ownership
of the term through the USDA's National Organic Program, he
is now dead as a meaningful synonym for the highest quality food.
Responsible growers need to identify not only that our food is grown to
higher, more considered standards, but also that it is much fresher
because it is grown right where it is sold."
continues to promote small-scale organic farming practices and sustainable
agriculture. One of his central principles is "small is better",
advocating business growth through improved production and marketing,
rather than physical expansion. He also suggests that consumers
forge direct relationships with farmers—"know your farmer".
In the early 90's, he bought back his Harborside,
Maine farm from his ex-wife and began farming it again as the
Four Seasons Farm.
Now married to fellow garden writer
Barbara Damrosch, they raise lettuce, carrots, radishes and
other salad vegetables throughout year round in his unheated
greenhouses in Maine and market them locally. Unlike the
typical farmer, he cultivates six acres of land year-round in
one of the country's coldest climates.
is located on the Web at
Works by Eliot Coleman:
New Organic Grower" describes practical ways of growing
organic vegetables, marketing, livestock, the winter garden,
soil fertility, weeds, and many other topics.
Harvest" shows how to eliminate the confines of the growing
season, providing a simple way to grow vegetables year-round
using inexpensive techniques.
Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using
Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses"
details how gardeners and farmers can use the innovative, highly
successful methods Coleman describes in this comprehensive
handbook to raise crops throughout the coldest of winters.
Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman" (DVD). A rare
chance to sit in with Eliot Coleman, one of the pioneers of the
organic farming movement. Coleman has studied, practiced, and
perfected his craft, and while you can bring Coleman's books
with you into your garden, there's nothing like getting the
advice straight from the man himself.
Books by Barbara Damrosch:
Garden Primer: Second Edition" is described as the most
comprehensive, entertaining, down-to-earth one-volume gardening
reference ever, and highly praised.
Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook" is two books in
one. It’s a complete four-season cookbook with 120 recipes from
Barbara, a master cook as well as master gardener, who shows how
to maximize the fruits—and vegetables—of your labors, from
Stuffed Squash Blossom Fritters to Red Thai Curry with Fall
Vegetables to Hazelnut Torte with Summer Berries.
And it’s a step-by-step garden guide that works no matter how
big or small your plot, with easy-to-follow instructions and
plans for different gardens. It covers size of the garden,
nourishing the soil, planning ahead, and the importance of
rotating crops—yes, even in your backyard. And, at the core,
individual instructions on the crops, from the hardy and
healthful cabbage family to fourteen essential culinary herbs.
Eating doesn’t get any more local than your own backyard.