400: Eliot Coleman on 30th Anniversary of ‘The New Organic Grower’.
Being a resource for organic growers for over three decades.
Eliot has over fifty years’ experience in all aspects of organic farming, including field vegetables, greenhouse vegetables, rotational grazing of cattle and sheep, and range poultry. He is the author of The New Organic Grower, Four-Season Harvest,The Winter Harvest Handbook and an instructional workshop DVD called Year-Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman – all published through our friends at Chelsea Green.
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Eliot and his wife, Barbara Damrosch, operate a commercial year-round market garden and run horticultural research projects at their farm called Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine.
In This Podcast:
In 1988, Eliot Coleman literally wrote the book on being an organic grower and has been an invaluable resource for organic gardeners and farmers for three decades. He only started growing food because it sounded like an adventure; and he learned how through books and making friends with farmers around the world. We learn who inspired and taught him, how he uses livestock on his farm, how he virtually moved his farm 500 miles to the south for the winter, and more.
Listen in and learn about:
- Being a teacher so he could take adventures until he read a book about farming and picked that as his new adventure
- His first farm in 1958 with lots of wooded land that needed organic material to help the topsoil
- A visual perspective of his 14 acres
- Growing food for the local area and the dedicated customers – not needing to wholesale
- The key to his healthy products
- The textbook that explained to him the microbiology in his soil
- Farm generated fertility and the difference between organic gardening and organic farming
“We were not breaking any of the laws of horticulture!”
- The importance of creating soil naturally using cover crops and chickens
- Moving the chickens around to maximize their effect on the land
- Being a book nerd and learning from them, as well as from other helpful farmers
- This inspiration that led to the writing of the New Organic Grower
- A friendship with a Frenchman built over the commonality of seaweed
- Year-round vegetable farming and the adventure of trying the impossible
- Really long winters and realizing he was shopping more than growing
- Deciding to start farming in unheated greenhouses
- Each layer of plastic moves the covered area 500 miles south
“Making sure that you are nurturing all of those powers that the earth has given for free, and directing them through natural techniques to make the soil more productive than it would be on its own.”
- The benefits of growing, harvesting, and eating fresh
- 50 years ago, mentioning ‘organic’ got a whole different reaction
As well as:
- His failure – If you don’t fail, then you’re not trying anything new! We still don’t have a handle on the Colorado beetle though
- His success – The winter harvest!
- His drive – Working to make sure everyone is well-fed
- His advice – If you want to eat well, and you want to trust how the food was grown, then know the first name of the grower. And even better, since you know your own first name, make sure you are the grower
Books written by Eliot:
The Four-Season Harvest (Chelsea Green 1999),
The Winter Harvest Handbook (Chelsea Green 2009),
The New Organic Grower (Chelsea Green 1st edition 1989, 2nd edition 1995, 3rd edition 2018)
Eliot’s Book recommendations:
Make friends with your land: A chemist looks at organiculture – Leonard Wickenden
How to reach Eliot:
To learn more about more about Growing Your Own Food
And to see the I’m an Urban Farmer line
Note: You can also find these books mentioned above at one of our favorite local independent bookstores and have the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a small business.