Eliot Coleman came to Cape Rosier, Maine, after college in 1968 to meet renowned homesteaders Helen and Scott Nearing, a couple who would turn out to be his lifelong mentors. He wanted to learn to live off the land like so many back-to-nature enthusiasts of that counterculture period. "I was an adventurer who loved rock climbing and knocking around," Coleman says. "Small-farm life sounded like an adventure to me."
Coleman and Damrosch are blessed with a quarter-acre home garden adjoining the farm. But Coleman says that with the right amount of compost, a sunny spot, and a space the size of a dining table you can produce a surprising amount of food, something he calls the "backyard miracle."
Around their shingled house, the couple tends a quarter-acre home garden, with its flower and vegetable beds, orchards, small greenhouses, and composting areas. They also farm and manage the work on the other cultivated acres devoted to supplying their farm stand and their wholesale restaurant business with produce. Delicious market produce, such as blueberries, sustain the operation.
A friend of a farmhand stops by. Coleman and Damrosch are happy to pass down their knowledge to a new generation. "I've never seen interest in small farming leap as much as it has in the past five years or so," Coleman says. "The idea of 'local' as a concept has really clutched young people."