Four Season Farm is an experimental market garden in Harborside, Maine.
Founded and owned by farmers and writers Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman.
Four Season Farm is 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.
Learn more about us below, and watch the video on our farm.
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.
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.
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.
Eliot 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.