Eliot Coleman raises about an acre-and-a-half of vegetables in Harborside, Maine, with his wife, Barbara Damrosch. With over 40 years of experience in all aspects of organic farming, Eliot is widely recognized as a pioneer in the world of organic market farming, especially when it comes to producing crops year-round in the northern tier of the United States. He is the author of the bible of organic market farming, The New Organic Grower, as well as The Winter Harvest Handbook.
Eliot shares his farming history in this episode, including the ways that farming in Maine has influenced his approach to farming, and how trying to make Maine soil resemble Iowa soils has led him to develop the skills of observation that have served him so well in the development of his farm. Along the way, we get into picking rocks, marketing, plant-positive pest control, and Eliot’s views on organic hydroponics.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.
BCS America: BCS two-wheel tractors are versatile, maneuverable in tight spaces, light-weight for less compaction, and easy to maintain and repair on farm. Gear-driven and built to last for decades of dependable service on your farm or market garden.
Quotes from the Show
The end of the road has its benefits.
[Regarding life in the soil:] Isn’t that the most exciting thing you’ve ever heard in your life? Talk about unexplored worlds to go and explore! If you fed the soil, you fed all of the soil organisms, and then that whole magnificent system functioned at such a high level of efficiency that everything you planted grew.
We’ve maintained our small scale mainly because I’m not going to live long enough to get enough rocks and fertility in to turn enough more of this land into something approximating Iowa as the one-and-a-half or two acres that we’ve managed to put into that state thus far.
We learned an enormous amount by starting on the backside of [the soil fertility] eight ball. It made it easier in the long run to know even more about soil fertility than if we’d started with the advantages of a deep soil in the Midwest.
It’s fun to do what people think is impossible.
The Winter Harvest Handbook, by Eliot Coleman
Eliot was inspired by the Helen and Scott Nearing’s book, Living the Good Life, which is contained in the The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living
Eliot’s favorite tool remains the fine-bladed Collinear Hoe. I’m still a fan of the original version with a replaceable blade.