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Book Review: The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman

"How do you produce first-rate food all year-round in northern places? This is the big question facing the local food movement, and Eliot Coleman, one of America's most innovative farmers, has come up with excellent answers. Brimming with ingenuity, hope, and eminently practical advice, The Winter Harvest Handbook is an indispensable contribution."

Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma


From the bestselling author of The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest, a revolutionary guide to year-round harvests of fresh, organic produce-with little or no energy inputs.

Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable living trend that's taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman helped start this movement with The New Organic Grower published 20 years ago. He continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.

Now, with his long-awaited new book, The Winter Harvest Handbook, anyone can have access to his hard-won experience. Gardeners and farmers can use the innovative, highly successful methods Coleman describes in this comprehensive handbook to raise crops throughout the coldest of winters.

Building on the techniques that hundreds of thousands of farmers and gardeners adopted from The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest, this new book focuses on growing produce of unparalleled freshness and quality in customized unheated or, in some cases, minimally heated, movable plastic greenhouses.

"The winter was not given to us for no purpose. We must thaw its cold with our genialness. We are asked to find out and appropriate all the nutrients it yields. If it is a cold and hard season, its fruit, no doubt, is the more concentrated and nutty."  -Henry David Thoreau

Coleman offers clear, concise details on greenhouse construction and maintenance, planting schedules, crop management, harvesting practices, and even marketing methods in this complete, meticulous, and illustrated guide. Readers have access to all the techniques that have proven to produce higher-quality crops on Coleman's own farm.

His painstaking research and experimentation with more than 30 different crops will be valuable to small farmers, homesteaders, and experienced home gardeners who seek to expand their production seasons.

A passionate advocate for the revival of small-scale sustainable farming, Coleman provides a practical model for supplying fresh, locally grown produce during the winter season, even in climates where conventional wisdom says it "just can't be done." 


About the Author:


Eliot has over 30 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 (Chelsea Green, 1989, revised, expanded second edition, 1995), Four Season Harvest (Chelsea Green, 1992, revised, expanded second edition, 1999) and The Winter Harvest Manual. He has contributed chapters to three scientific books on organic agriculture and has written extensively on the subject since 1975. He also wrote the foreward to Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques and Recipes (1999), by the gardeners and farmers of Terre Vivant.

During his careers as a commercial market gardener, the director of agricultural research projects, and as a teacher and lecturer on organic gardening he has 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 his wife Barbara Damrosch, 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 in Harborside, Maine.

For more information visit fourseasonfarm.com.