Eliot Coleman (born 1938) is an American farmer, author, agricultural researcher and educator, and proponent of organic farming. His 1989 book, The New Organic Grower, is important reading for organic farmers and market gardeners. He served for two years as Executive Director of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and was an advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture during its 1979–80 study, Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming, a document that formed the basis for today's legislated National Organic Program (2002) in the U.S.
in 1968, Coleman and his first wife, Sue Coleman, moved to a farm in Maine, situated on land purchased from Helen and Scott Nearing, as part of the back-to-the-land movement. Their first child, Melissa Coleman, was born there the next year. Coleman taught himself how to farm organically in the harsh Maine climate, and developed many of the cold-weather growing techniques for which he is known. As did the Nearings, the Colemans developed their farm into a learning center for people interested in natural and sustainable agricultural practices.
In 1989, Coleman and other organic farmers toured agricultural operations in Europe to study techniques which might be adapted to the North-Eastern United States. This was one of many such investigative tours that Coleman has taken
On his Four Season Farm in Harborside (Brooksville), Maine, he produces year-round vegetable crops under harsh winter conditions, using unheated and minimally heated greenhouse structures. He even manages to grow artichokes, claiming that "I grow them just to make the Californians nervous."
In his writing, Coleman promotes small-scale organic farming practices and sustainable agriculture. One of his central principles is "small is better," advocating business growth through improved production and marketing, rather than physical expansion. He also favors direct relationships with customers over formal organic certification.
Coleman is currently married to gardening author Barbara Damrosch. For several years, from 1993, they co-hosted the TV series, Gardening Naturally, on The Learning Channel. Coleman and his wife continue to grow and locally market fresh produce.
- Bittman, Mark (August 17, 2011). "New Farmers Find Their Footing". New York Times: 23.
- DeVault, George (August–September 2009). "The New USDA: A New Hope for Organic Farming?". Mother Earth News (Ogden Publications, Inc.). Retrieved 16 September 2014.
- Coleman, Melissa (April 12, 2011). This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-195832-8. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Nilsen, Richard (1990). "European organic agriculture: the state of the art". Whole Earth Review 68: 38.
- The New Organic Grower (Chelsea Green, 1989, revised/expanded 2nd edition, 1995)
- Four Season Harvest (Chelsea Green, 1992, revised/expanded 2nd edition, 1999)
- Winter Harvest Manual (Out of print)
- The Winter Harvest Handbook (Chelsea Green, 2009)