The Farmers’ Almanac will mark its 200th anniversary in 2018, a significant milestone for any publication—especially in the waning years of print’s dominance in media.
Think about it: The New Yorker started out in 1925—seven years after the Almanac celebrated its centennial. It’s older than Harper’s, which was founded in 1850. Even the Grey Lady can’t compete with it in years: The New York Times was first published in 1851.
The Farmers’ Almanac cemented its impressive reputation for long-term weather forecasting, a boon to many farmers, in the past 195 years, and it continues to have healthy circulation numbers. But the publication is undeniably—and charmingly—folksy. The 2013 issue features stories on killing garden weeds with dishwashing soap and boiling water, a listicle of the 36 American cities with the best weather, and “a timely article on why growing your own food is easy and a healthy pastime.”
The Almanac is not, in a word, modern.
If you’re more interested in reading about the rise of organic farming in China, about the impact Americans’ thirst for juices and smoothies has had on mango farming in Malawi, about agriculture policy in Brazil, there’s a brand-new publication for you: Modern Farmer, which launched its debut issue yesterday.
“It’s for people who understand that what they eat impacts the rest of the world—and want to make a conscious decision about how they eat,” says Ann Marie Gardner, the editor-in-chief of the Hudson, NY-based print quarterly, who previously worked as a reporter for The New York Times and Monocle.
“Think of it as Gourmet crossed with Dwell and sent to Green Acres, as veteran editors from Manhattan’s largely livestock-free magazine world try to tap into the interest in back-to-the-soil living,” is how Rebecca Rothbaum described the publication in the Wall Street Journal (although it should be noted that the majority of the staff has roots in San Francisco).
But judging by its retailers—print copies will be sold at Whole Foods and Tractor Supply alike—the goal is more to bridge the gap between the urban, aspirational consumers and gardeners and the proverbial modern farmer—who could as readily resemble Paul Harvey’s (white, male, rural) archetype as an African-American man growing vegetables in South L.A., twenty- and thritysomethings tending to small, direct-market farms in New England, or hipsters growing heirloom produce on Brooklyn rooftops.
“We think that food issues are not just a nice-to-know thing, but they will become, increasingly, a need-to-know,” Gardner says in a video announcing the publication. We couldn’t agree more, and we’ll be reading Modern Farmer in order to stay in the know.