Thought Lines

Ethne Clarke's Editor's Letter, December/January 2011

By Ethne Clarke

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Columbia School visits Organic Gardening OfficesAs I write this note, our first frost date in Emmaus is looming. Where, I wonder, did the time go?

Do you remember how childhood's summer vacations seemed endless? Each day was packed with events, but leavened by languorous moments spent dreaming and wishing.

That's kind of what it's been like this past year at Organic Gardening. From our first "new look" issue in January, the year stretched ahead of us like a meandering garden path, one that took us on a fresh journey to many inspiring places, where we met fellow gardeners who gave us ideas for our own organic gardens and encouraged us to try something different. Some of these places and people gave us cause to think about the planet and our lives, and the lives of our families, friends, and communities, in ways we had perhaps not considered before, and to take action to improve what we found.

We've come a long way in a short time, no question, guided by our many and varied expert contributors. Perhaps the June/July issue's Happy Hens cover was the most obvious signal that things had changed. Matthew Benson's photography captured the allure and humor of our feathery models as they strutted their stuff along Organic Gardening's runway.

Food from the organic garden stepped into the limelight, and our guest chefs served up some fabulous recipes--standouts for me were the rich vegetable stews and harissa in Deborah Madison's April/May feature, "Tunisian Odyssey." Among the many plants featured during the year, chiles were the most popular. Indeed, this was the Foodie Year of the Pepper, and in recognition we close the season with a poem dedicated to these fiery fruits in a new department, Green Shoots, appearing in this issue for the first time.

Organic Gardening has moved beyond its print borders, and there is now an iPad issue available. Our Facebook fan base is booming, and we've established some truly meaningful programs with our advertising partners. One such was the NYC Grows event held this past April in Union Square. We created an event that brought folks out in the pouring rain to sample the products that make living organically a reality. Maria Rodale was there in raincoat and gumboots, signing her book Organic Manifesto. So was Meredith Hill, a teacher at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering, in Harlem. She introduced herself, and we got talking about the food and sustainability summer program she was doing with her 7th-grade English class. Was there anything, she asked, that Organic Gardening could do to help? "Sure," I said. "Let's do a magazine."

Several weeks later, the class visited the Rodale family farm, the Food Center, the Rodale Institute, and Organic Gardening's editorial offices, where they learned about magazine production from us editors. I recently received the first proof of their junior version of Organic Gardening. Titled Fresh! Youth Voices on Food and Sustainability, it underscores our message, which is one filled with hope for the future, supported by the knowledge that we really can make the world a better place for our children by taking that first, small step, or by inspiring others with our example, to embrace the organic way.

Ethne Clarke
Editor in Chief

Image: Christa Neu

Originally published in Organic Gardening Magazine, December/January 2011

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