The future of healthy food—even in Northern climes.

Have you ever wondered how our ancestors were able to eat a healthy diet in northern climes like New England in the wintertime?

Today, we have the luxury of fresh fruits and vegetables of every variety—every single day of the year. But that hasn’t always been the case, and the “end of the era of cheap oil” may be a game-changer when it comes to how we currently produce and distribute food. Then what?

Where will I get my fresh produce in Connecticut when gasoline soars to $10 or $15 a gallon? Where will I get my blueberries in February when fuel prices will preclude me getting them from Chile anymore?

A recent article in the New York Times (2-22-12, see link below) tells us how. It is entitled Living Off the Land in Maine, Even in Winter and shows us how certain people are doing that NOW. The article tells us all about a remarkable couple and their Four Season Farm:

Eliot Coleman

Eliot Coleman (73) and Barabara Damrosch (69), married in 1991, had much in common, including near-endless energy. He had grown up in Rumson, N.J., the privileged child of a stockbroker. She had grown up in Manhattan, the daughter of a pediatrician.

He had earned a master’s degree in Spanish literature at Williams College and roamed the Americas, teaching at various schools while skiing and rock climbing and whitewater kayak racing. She had worked on a doctorate in medieval literature from Columbia University and had taught college.

Nowadays, in the dead of winter—in one of our coldest states, this remarkable couple is raising all kinds of crops. As the article tells us, “Spinach, salad greens, arugula, cabbages, beets and many other hardy crops are grown in the unheated greenhouses. Seeds of heat-loving tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are started in flats in the one heated greenhouse.” Which by the way, make sure you enjoy the benefits of a high yield indoor garden at the lowest possible cost by finding the best economic LED grow lights for your harvest.

As for Eliot and Barbara, they’re not only showing us how to eat healthy in the winter; they’re writing it down for us to read:

Barbara Damrosch

Before they met…Mr. Coleman had already published his first book, “The New Organic Grower,” and taken delegations of scientists to Europe to observe the success of intensive organic farming.

Ms. Damrosch had appeared on “The Victory Garden,” the popular WGBH public television series that promoted composting and intensive gardening, and she had published a book, “Theme Gardens.” Over the years, they have both continued to write: Ms. Damrosch’s book “A Garden Primer” is a bible for gardeners; Mr. Coleman’s “Four Season Harvest” and “The Winter Harvest Handbook” explain his organic methods in detail.

What caught my eye was the fact that they are actually running a viable business—while providing us with a roadmap for the future. Last year, their Four Season Farm grossed $120,000 from crops grown on 1.5 acres of land.

They’re also growing, providing employment to others and are training people who will start other farms in the future. From the article, “Though Four Season Farm is thriving, all but $25,000 of its earnings go back into the business, paying for maintenance and the four apprentices. They work 10 months of the year, for $8 an hour, and receive free living quarters (a loft in the cow barn, the onion storage house, the log cabin built years ago) before going on to start farms of their own.”

Meet Eliot Coleman in this 4-minute video

Read more about this remarkable couple in this article. Also, for your convenience, a few earlier blog posts on the topic of local, organic farming—and the end of cheap oil:

Want to receive some occasional special news from us? You may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page.

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

And if you like what 4Leaf eating is doing for you and your family, you might enjoy visiting our new “4Leaf Gear” store. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

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J. Morris Hicks — Member of the Board of Directors — Click image to visit the foundation website.

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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4 Responses to The future of healthy food—even in Northern climes.

  1. Like – W O W !, Jim Hicks! You found another great input to educating all on successfully going “plant-strong” — grow your own plant foods almost anywhere!!


    Here on the central coast of California, three crops per year are grown (seems like more than that for some fields) — so fast and so big. Some crops: strawberries (available all year round!), broccoli, cauliflower, TOMATOES IN A NEW, HUGE HOTHOUSE COMPLEX
    blueberries, grapes, artichokes, celery, lettuce, cabbage, you name it, we got it!

    For the last three years, I have developed garden areas in my sand-only back yard, enriched with composted stuff in bags from garden shops. Most plant results, for me, are insipid. Do OK with snow peas all year around, onions (takes a long time), carrots (long time), radishes (quick!), beans. Have to battle snails (use flashlight late at night to find them doing their destructive eating, battle gophers — hate it when I see a mature bean plant disappearing downward in daytime! I have learned how to get rid of gophers better now — use to use traps, tried smoke flares — now use poison pellets in their tunnels. Oh — even birds are destructive — can decimate a pea vine by chomping away in the leaves (use a mesh net to protect peas now). Takes watering and water costs. Takes weeding. In a gardening course at the local community college, we were told that growing your own veggies is usually more expensive than buying at the store or the many local farmers’ markets. “Better to spend your time in a low-paying other-pursuit (flipping hamburgers at McDonalds!) and buy the stuff!”

    HOWEVER — I’ll still do more gardening – bought 20 different packets of seeds from Walmart — most for 98 cents per packet — and have started some plants already here in February. Will add more soon. I noticed that my water outlet in the back yard is actually on my soft water plumbing line! Now I’ll use the outlet going into the house at the side yard and not have salt in my watering! Wish me better luck this year! Besides, it is a bit of satisfaction and fun to grow your own organic stuff and to eat it FRESH!

  2. huracan says:

    I believe growing your own crops will become hugely popular in the coming years. People will realize that even the best quality food (usually organic) is picked too early for full nutrition to develop, because it has to be shipped long distances. And that there is a big knowledge base developing on year-round farming and harvesting in all seasons and regions. It’s really a no-brainer.

  3. Leo S. says:

    Another informative article showing that it is possible to grow more of our own food without pesticides in colder parts of the country and that there are people who are accomplishing that goal. Here is a link which allows one to access many books printed over the years about nutrition, health and organic farming. We no longer need shelves to hold all these books or need the money to purchase them. The Internet and the computer give us the ability to gain knowledge, improve our lifestyles and share information with others.

  4. Bill K. says:


    The idea is very intrigueing. Most of us remember the other winter alternative for fruits and vegetables – caning. With that method you normally had to ingest lots of extra salt and sugar which were needed to help preserve the food and to give it back some of its lost flavor because of the caning process. But the idea of getting fresh vegetables in the Winter locally is worth looking into. My only concern is whether it is trully profitable. I know you said they grossed 125,000 but what did it cost to gross that amount. If it cost 150,000 then it is not very sustainable. Still it is the right idea and as more volume is produced it could easily become even more profitable.

    Slowly, many of the excuses for not adopting a plant based diet fade away.

    Bill K.

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