Seedsmen Hall of Fame
Honoring Horticulturalists

Eliot Coleman
by Mike Dunton

On 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 Winter 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 Nearlings described.

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 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 declared:

"'Organic' 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."

Mr. Coleman 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.

He raises lettuces, carrots, radishes and other salad vegetables throughout year round in his unheated greenhouses in Maine.  Unlike the typical farmer, he cultivates six acres of land year-round in one of the country's coldest climates.

He is located on the Web at

Books by Eliot Coleman:

The New Organic Grower describes practical ways of growing organic vegetables, marketing, livestock, the winter garden, soil fertility, weeds, and many other topics.

Four-Season Harvest shows how to eliminate the confines of the growing season, providing a simple way to grow vegetables year-round using inexpensive techniques.


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