The last two paid staff members at Modern Farmer walked out on Friday, Kim Severson reported for The New York Times. The magazine and website, founded in 2013, “ceased publication Friday, as the last of the paid editorial staff members walked out its doors. The future of what remains of the Modern Farmer brand is uncertain.”
— Cara Parks (@caraparks) January 23, 2015
Founder and editor Ann Marie Gardner left the magazine in December, Joe Pompeo reported then for Capital New York.
Gardner was known to have a fraught relationship with Modern Farmer’s investor, the Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra, who recently agreed to keep the magazine afloat in exchange for additional shares from Gardner, who was a minority owner.
According to today’s story, two interns are still around.
Jesse Hirsh, a senior editor who came from San Francisco to help start the magazine, and Cara Parks, the executive editor who joined the staff in October, were the paid editorial staff that remained. When they left Friday, the editorial content was left to two interns who were scheduled to leave by the end of January.
Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman and Jason Abbruzzese reported Friday that there’s one intern left and four non-editorial staff.
When asked whether Modern Farmer might continue to publish online or in some other capacity, Parks said it’s possible, but certainly unlikely for the foreseeable future.
In November of last year, Alec Wilkinson wrote about the magazine and its identity and audience for The New Yorker.
Modern Farmer prints a hundred thousand copies of each issue and has almost sixteen thousand subscribers. It costs $7.99, and it is sold in bookstores and on newsstands and at groceries, feedlots, and tractor-supply stores. Reading it is like spending time with Gardner. Her interest is inclusive and doesn’t linger. A short piece might be fewer than a hundred words (“Save Your Seeds, Canada!”), and there might be several to a page. A long piece (“Wild Pigs: It’s a War, and We’re Losing”) is usually fifteen hundred to twenty-five hundred words. The slogan for the first issue was “The New Food Culture.” She also considered “Where Agriculture Meets Pop Culture.” Agriculture, however, “is just a word that people don’t like,” she says. “You just shut down when you hear it; it’s like hearing ‘healthy’ or ‘nutritious.’ The one we use now is ‘Farm. Food. Life.’ ”
Andrew Beaujon also wrote about the magazine last November and its “goat cam.”
Gardner said while Modern Farmer was in the planning stages, people she spoke to at tractor shows saw her publication as being for the “lifestyle farmer, the hobby farmer — which definitely is part of the people we talk to.” But now that Modern Farmer is a reality, she added, “some bigger farmers are fascinated by the magazine, too.” She said her favorite reaction from readers is when they say, “I never knew farming was relevant to me.”
The goat cam still appears to be working.