An Educational Visit to Four Season Farm

| 5/20/2015 4:00:00 PM

Four Season Farm greenhouse interior

The Small Home, Big Decisions series follows Jennifer and her husband, Tyler, as they build a self-reliant homestead on a piece of country property in northeastern Kansas. The series will delve into questions that arise during their building process and the decisions they make along the way. The posts are a work in progress, written as their home-building adventure unfolds.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Four Season Farm, the home and farm of esteemed market gardeners and writers Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch. I wanted to learn about how their successful farm and homestead had been established, and what steps they took to get where they are today. Their farm is located in Harborside, Maine, which has long winters and, this year, exceptionally heavy snowfall. Case in point: I arrived in late April, and snow was still on the ground (see below) and the first tulips were just bulging, readying for bloom. Even by coastal Maine standards this was unseasonably late.

Four Season Farm Entrance

The decades of organic gardening experience in this climate has resulted in Barbara and Eliot’s mastery of hoop house and greenhouse culture. Despite the long winter and dormant trees outside, the interior of their large season-extending structures were teeming with richly hued plant life, from carrots and radishes to kale and lettuce (shown in first photo). Most of the hoop houses are set up on tracks (shown below), which allows them to be moved from one end of a long bed to the other. Crops can thus be easily rotated, soil can be amended with various cover crops and with the addition of chickens, and crops can be started in a hoop house and then allowed to grow in the open later in the season.

Four Season Farm Hoop House On Tracks

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