Farmer Book Club: The New Organic Grower

The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman

There was a time (before kids, before a bustling seed company, before all the spreadsheets) that I’d start every winter by reading this book.

Eliot Coleman presented everything in a series of cycles and systems that flowed into each other and supported each other. And it was done in a simplicity to the writing that feels intimate and personal – that makes it easy to read and suddenly you’re absorbing 30 years of farming experience.

I’ve chosen The New Organic Grower as the next  book to feature on the Farmer Book Club,

And more specifically the following 3 chapters …


Chapter 7 is a good place to start. After all, it’s called Crop Rotation.  Here are a number of different ways for you to categorise your crops and then take out some index cards to play The Crop Rotation Game. 

Over the chapter, Eliot Coleman illustrates his thinking as he builds a 10 year rotation. This is a complex rotation example but it clearly shows what you can do to organise a broad range of vegetables into a clear sequence to improve your farm management and your farm’s ecological health.


This leads into Chapter 8 – Green Manures. This is not an in-depth exploration of all the cover crops out there or what they can do for your farm. It is a demonstration of how you can find places for cover crops in a packed market garden. It illustrates this well with an 8 year rotation example.


Our last stop is Chapter 23 – The Winter Garden. Today we’ll skip past all the pages about how to extend your growing season into the colder months. We’ll go straight to the mobile greenhouse diagrams for one last example of crop rotation in motion. What I like about this diagram is that it shows you how simple a rotation can look on paper and yet hold  many layers.

If crop rotation design is on your mind these days as you get into crop planning season , it’s time to pull the New Organic Grower off your bookshelf.  (And if you don’t have it on your bookshelf …  now you know what to put on your wish list!)

My next free online workshop is on Thursday December 2 at 2pm Eastern & 7pm Eastern …

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