Four Season Farm is an experimental market garden.
Founded by farmers and writers Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman.
Four Season Farm is now operated by Eliot’s daughter, Clara Coleman.
The farm produces vegetables year-round and has become a nationally recognized model of small-scale sustainable agriculture.
WHO WE ARE
CO-FOUNDER & WRITER
CO-FOUNDER & WRITER
CLARA COLEMAN is a second-generation organic farmer, creator of Real Farmer Care, consultant, writer, TEDx and keynote speaker on sustainable four-season farming. Clara and her two sons live at Four Season Farm, where she operates the farm business.
Clara has consulted with many sustainable agriculture organizations including Maine Farmland Trust and Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Other clients have included The Center for Discovery in New York, and Wegmans Food Markets where she worked to expand four-season farming methods on their organic farm in upstate New York and for their farming partners who supply Wegmans stores with year-round produce. Clara also spent a year working on creating the ARC Farm – an innovative & collaborative four-season farm model for young farmers.
Other past experience includes Divide Creek Farm – an organic, intensively-managed two-acre four-season vegetable farm that she ran in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for three years.
Clara is passionate about caring for farmers through Real Farmer Care, along with inspiring and supporting the next generation of farmers to create sustainable and lasting farming legacies for generations to come. She also does farm consulting and speaking engagements nationwide as a means to inspire and encourage the next generation of farmers.
BARBARA DAMROSCH has worked professionally in the field of horticulture since 1977. She writes, consults and lectures on gardening and is co-owner, with her husband Eliot Coleman, of Four Season Farm, an experimental market garden in Harborside, Maine. From May 2003 to September 2017 she wrote a weekly column for The Washington Post called “A Cook’s Garden.”
She is the author of several books, The Garden Primer, Theme Gardens, and The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook, co-authored with Eliot, which won the American Horticultural Society’s Book Award in 2014. Her writing has also been published extensively in national magazines.
From 1979 to 1992 she operated her own firm, Barbara Damrosch Landscape Design, in Washington, Connecticut. Her projects since then have included display food gardens for The Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York, and an award-winning kitchen garden she designed for Alitex Limited at the 2001 Chelsea Flower Show in London.
During the 1991 and 1992 seasons she appeared as a regular correspondent on the PBS series “The Victory Garden.” She co-hosted, with Eliot, the series “Gardening Naturally” for The Learning Channel, airing from 1993-2003.
ELIOT COLEMAN is the author of The New Organic Grower, Four Season Harvest, and The Winter Harvest Handbook. He has written extensively on the subject of organic agriculture since 1975, including chapters in scientific books and the foreword to Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques and Recipes by the gardeners and farmers of Terre Vivant.
Eliot has more than 50 years’ experience in all aspects of organic farming, including field vegetables, greenhouse vegetables, rotational grazing of cattle and sheep, and range poultry. During his careers as a commercial market gardener, the director of agricultural research projects, and as a teacher and lecturer on organic gardening, he studied, practiced and perfected his craft. He served for two years as the Executive Director of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and was an advisor to the US Department of Agriculture during their landmark 1979-80 study, “Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming.”
He has conducted study tours of organic farms, market gardens, orchards and vineyards in Europe and has successfully combined European ideas with his own to develop and popularize a complete system of tools and equipment for organic vegetable growers. He shares that expertise through his lectures and writings, and has served as a tool consultant to a number of companies. He presently consults and designs tools for Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
With Barbara, he was the host of the TV series, Gardening Naturally, on The Learning Channel. He and Barbara presently operate a commercial year-round market garden, in addition to horticultural research projects, at Four Season Farm.
WHAT WE DO
We produce and sell vegetables, either freshly harvested or from storage, all 12 months of the year. Since we are selling to a local market we grow a little of every vegetable our customers might want, which comes out to some 55 different vegetables at last count. This past fiscal year our gross income was over $100,000 per acre. A farm that specialized in growing only the most-remunerative-per-square-foot crops could easily exceed our income figures.
We work hard because we enjoy what we do. After 50 years here, we have a lot of knowledge about how to grow exceptional vegetables. Whether our experience provides a yardstick of economic expectations for the small farm or, rather, tells a story of love of farming, determination to succeed, and extreme devotion to quality production, would be an interesting discussion. At the least it is nice to know that the techniques of organic farming can feed the world bounteously, even under quite unpromising initial conditions.
WHERE WE ARE
Four Season Farm exists in a very unlikely location for serious year-round vegetable production. It is situated on a stony peninsula sticking out into Maine’s Penobscot Bay in a climate with long cold winters. We farm on land we cleared from spruce/fir forest back in 1968. There were only 2 inches of topsoil at the start with an initial pH of 4.3, and the soil was filled with an enormous number of rocks deposited by the glaciers.
We have been able to turn two acres (approximately 90,000 sq. ft.) of that difficult beginning into very productive vegetable land by removing the rocks and adding limestone, lots of home-made compost, seaweed from the nearby coast, and growing deep-rooting green manures. The remainder of our 14 acres of cleared land is sown to grass/legume pastures.
At present 15% of our vegetable land is covered by greenhouses for winter production. Most of our winter greenhouses are unheated. However, one 3000 sq. ft. house is kept at a temperature just above freezing for the less hardy salad crops.