Sustainability Tools, Technologies & Resources

My Farmstead Life:

Living in Maine from 1973 to 1988

The 15 years I spent as a back-to-the-land farmer and publisher

By George J. Frangoulis

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 farm stand 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.

Its editorial proposition 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.

While 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 as 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. I also launched ORGANIC BUZZ MAGAZINE and EARTHWRIGHT MAGAZINE.

George J. Frangoulis

Publisher & Editorial Director 

The Farmstead Press 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) 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 

The Farmstead Press has been re-launched, and today it serves as a publishing venture of newly created magazine and book products.

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