Plans to launch a successor to *The New Farm* magazine have been slowed by
some major obstacles, reports Craig Cramer, former editorial director of the
well-known sustainable farming publication.
With the help of a planning grant from the Wallace Genetic Foundation, Cramer
and another former *New Farm* editor developed a business plan for a tightly
focused periodical to meet the production and marketing information needs of
sustainable farmers. "We found that with a modest infusion of capital from
corporate sponsors and some foundation support early on, we could launch a
practical 'how to' publication that would become self-supporting within six
years," says Cramer.
A key part of that plan includes reconnecting with former *New Farm* readers.
But Rodale Institute, which published *The New Farm,* has yet to grant its
former editors permission to use the list of former subscribers.
"Without the solid response and renewal rates that the *New Farm* list would
make possible, we think it would take too long for our new magazine to become
self-sustaining," says Chris Shirley. A lengthy breakeven period could
jeopardize chances of obtaining adequate startup funding, he adds.
A change in mission priorities and budget constraints led Rodale Institute to
retire *The New Farm* in May 1995. Cramer and Shirley formed the Committee
for Sustainable Farm Publishing a few months later. The Committee gathered
input and advice from many sustainable farming groups and experts on how to
fill the information void left by the *New Farm*'s absence.
"Dozens of organizations offered to help publicize our efforts and to allow
use of their mailing lists at low or no cost if we started a new
publication," says Shirley. He and Cramer still hope to do that. They also
want to provide some related informational products and to offer electronic
editions as resources and audience demographics allow.
The editors haven't ruled out other options yet, including publishing on the
Internet's World Wide Web, or as a joint effort with other organizations or
publishers. But with the '96 growing season virtually underway, many
sustainable farmers this year again will lack ready access to the latest
farmer-proven tips that can help them thrive.
That could change in the near future. To stay abreast of the Committee's
plans or to send comments or suggestions, contact: Chris Shirley, Committee
for Sustainable Farm Publishing, CDShirley@aol.com