A few years after I graduated from college, I left a good job in Connecticut and moved to an old farmhouse in northern New England. I had never before lived a country life. Yet I decided to become a self-sufficient farmer, a back-to-the-lander. I also chose a very cold climate for my backwoods lifestyle – The State of Maine – thus making my experiment in rustic living an even greater challenge.
In 1973, I moved to Blue Hill, Maine. So, without any real experience or knowledge of basic agriculture, I was determined to become a successful, self-sufficient farmer. My plan was ambitious: I would grow a big organic garden and raise livestock for food; I would heat my home with wood; I would live in harmony with the seasons, and in harmony with the environment. It was now a done deal.
And so I wondered about my plan. I asked myself if I could even survive life in rural Maine. But I was undeterred. Yes, I did live and thrive in the rugged, hardscrabble countryside of northern New England, as a back-to-the-land publisher/farmer, for the duration of 15 years! After operating from Blue Hill for a few years, I relocated The Farmstead Press to Freedom, Maine, and named the new farmstead Sugar Bush Farm.
During my farmstead life in Maine, I raised food from my garden and barnyard; I learned to grow abundant crops of organic vegetables, fruits and berries; I also raised a variety of small stock, including goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, and pigs. I put all these naturally and organically grown food products into the smoke house, root cellar, larder and freezer. I ate heartily and healthily.
I was soon raising more food than I could consume. My excess farm production – organic produce, fresh eggs, goat’s milk and cheese, smoked hams, bacon, sausage and turkeys, young goat kids and lambs – was sold from my farmstand or at the livestock auction. I also sold seasonally grown organic produce to local restaurants.
As it turned out, our most profitable cash crop wasn’t all the marvelous food from my harvested crops. It was a publication borne from the bounty of the imagination: FARMSTEAD Magazine.
Because of my strong desire to create a publishing business, I launched The Farmstead Press in 1973. It was established to publish specialty magazines and books for reader interested in self-sufficient living and environmental issues. It proved to be a successful business enterprise for 15 years.
It was established as an independent publisher of magazines serving diverse reader constituencies. For example, our magazines included consumer publications (FARMSTEAD MAGAZINE; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY JOURNAL; AMERICAN GARDENER), trade publications (SUCCESSFUL MAGAZINE PUBLISHING; CASH CROP) and a regional magazine (MAINE LIFE). Several book products -- editorial spin-offs of our magazines -- were also published.
The mission of my magazine was to assist folks make their country lifestyle a sustainable and enjoyable experience. Specifically, FARMSTEAD Magazine would give its readers accurate and timely information on many helpful topics:
- Growing gardens and raising livestock
- Heating homes with wood
- Using other alternative energy (solar, wind and water)
- Designing and building earth-friendly dwellings
- Cooking and preserving foods
- Maintaining good health and keeping physically fit
- Fishing and foraging for wild edibles
- Identifying and protecting wildlife and environment
This was an editorial proposition that appealed to me personally. I was the magazine’s quintessential reader. I wanted and needed the information my magazine promised to provide. What’s more, my, farmstead (home, barn, garden, and orchard), would serve as the publication’s laboratory. These were the reasons I started FARMSTEAD Magazine.
FARMSTEAD Magazine’s editorial mission was the key to its viability and growth. It became a successful publishing business. In the course of 15 years, its readership grew from a few hundred to many thousands, who were loyally attracted to its information-rich pages. Its accessible, how-to content accounted for these circulation gains.
As a result of this robust readership growth, advertisers also came to appreciate the magazine. The sales of ad space increased greatly over the years, making paid advertising a substantial revenue source.
As FARMSTEAD Magazine grew and prospered, additional business opportunities arose. New business was developed from book publishing and spin-off publications, including the American Gardener magazine, for homeowners with yards and small gardens, and The Animal Husbandry Journal, for farmers with small livestock.
In 1988, I decided to pursue other interests. Consequently, I sold my magazines and took the position of Professor of Journalism at the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Chair of its Magazine Publishing Program. While at UA, I taught a variety of journalism courses, including writing, editing, design and production, fundamentals of publishing, as well as media marketing and sales.
I have also served as adjunct professor of journalism at Judson College in Marion, Ala., and the University of Montevallo. Since moving from Maine to Alabama, I have worked for the past 28 years as a college teacher of journalism and mass communication, as well as media professional for commercial print (New York Times) and broadcast (WVUA-TV) enterprises. .
Over these years I never lost my interest in magazine and book publishing, as well as my interest in the environment, sustainability and self-sufficient living . While teaching journalism classes for the University of Alabama, Judson College and the University of Montevallo, I continued to work as adviser, publisher and editor for student-produced publications. These publications included ALABAMA WEST, MUCKLE RIDGE and GREEN FALCON Magazines. In 2005, I also launched ORGANIC BUZZ Magazine. You can check out GREEN FALCON and ORGANIC BUZZ Magazines on this website.
The Farmstead Press has been re-launched and today serves as publisher of newly created books and magazines.
-- George Frangoulis, Publisher and Editorial Director