End of an Era


Four years ago I started writing for Earth Garden, a magazine I have been reading for nearly thirty years, since I started my first food garden in the inhospitable red sand garden of a little old house in Broken Hill. It had always been a dream of mine, to write for Earth Garden. It took me a long time to raise the courage to try it, but I have now had four years of articles published there, with the very sweet editor, Alan. And after fifty years of publication the magazine is now closing down. Alan and Judith have been financial councillors for the First Nations people of the Kimberley region for some years now, and they are going to devote themselves full time to that project. It's kind of hard to be mad at them about that, but I will miss the magazine. It has been a long-time companion for learning about everything garden and homestead and low-tech living. And it was the first and only place I have ever been published!

My very last article for Earth Garden is about the parts of vegetables that are often thrown away but are actually edible. How to harvest more food, in fact, from the same space, just by eating all the parts of the plant that are edible.

Celery leaves, for instance, are very edible, good for stock, and can be dried and crumbled up to add celery flavour to soups and stews when you have run out of celery.

Pea and broad bean leaves are edible, and I put them in salads and stir fries. Broccoli leaves are also good in a stir fry, as are broccoli flowers. Turnip and radish leaves are wonderful chopped into soups, and radish seed pods are hot and crunchy.

Have you tried roasting parsley root, sauteeing garlic greens or stir frying baby pumpkin leaves? Well, just know that you can, if you want to:)

I have very much enjoyed writing in Earth Garden about many of the things I also write about in this space - eating weeds, visible mending, propagating plants. My magazine gig is ending, but I'll continue chatting here about living a quiet life in a small, unregarded corner of the world, knowing that thousands of Earth Garden readers are also doing the same, tending their gardens, planting seeds, making their patches beautiful and magical and productive. Earth Garden was there for me at a time when I needed some help as a young adult - I had no idea about gardening, or doing practical things, or cooking or preserving. I had a degree in English Literature, but it didn't prepare me for the practicalities of life so much! 

I am very grateful to have this small corner of the internet to talk about living small but living very well on very little money. And I am also very grateful to have such a lovely community of readers who teach me so much and who are also very kind:)

So here's a fond farewell to Earth Garden, and its wonderful publishers, and here's to me finding another writing gig somewhere... 


Treaders said…
I'm sad to hear that that magazine is coming to an end - but I bet you kept every issue right? Or was it all online?
simplelife said…
this is sad, but probably because of people like me that it is closing. I was a subscriber for years to Earth Garden and Grassroots magazines, but then in probably the last 5 yrs or so I stopped reading. Not because the magazine changed but because I started to feel like I'd failed at the dream life I had planned and reading about others living how I wanted to was too hard.
cheers Kate
Deborah said…
I'm sure growing food was challenging in Broken Hill!

The advice and information in Earth Garden seems so relevant to food production now when we can expect inflated prices and shortages, so I wouldn't be surprised if a similar magazine appears. I know many people search online now for information about sustainable and economic living. Is there a platform online which resonates with your approach?

Jo said…
Anna, it was one of the few magazines that doesn't exist at all on-line, pure paper publishing, and yes, I have a LOT of back issues:)

Kate, that's some heavy stuff to process. I think so many of us reach middle age and ask ourselves what on earth are we doing with our lives. It is a really challenging question, and well worth the asking and the pondering. It is definitely a place that I find myself in quite often. I experience a lot of resistance towards my current life sometimes and I do have some regrets. I also have zero answers. Right now I am watching a blackbird on the fence and worrying that I have more things to do this afternoon than there is afternoon to do them in..
However, do not take the blame for the demise of Earth Garden on your shoulders, Alan and Judith are leaving to take on a new adventure, not for lack of readers, as far as I know:)

Deborah, learning to garden in Broken Hill was a steep learning curve. What the vegies need there most of all is shade, which I learned the hard way! There are similar magazines - Grass Roots is one, and Pip Permaculture is another. And as for a platform on-line, well, there is my own, small as it is:)
Barbara said…
I subscribed to Earth Garden for many years, starting in the early 1990s and then...I didn't. My interests and priorities hadn't changed but the magazine just didn't seem to resonate with me anymore. A change to the look and format - too glossy, too obviously trying to attract the hipster, Gen Y market. Increasingly political (they were preaching to the converted in my case but I didn't want it constantly shoved down my throat). I'm sure lots of people would disgree but everthing eventually runs its course perhaps.
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Thanks for this. Such a lovely magazine and yes I too read it from an early age, and it was inspiring.

Sad, and I shall drink a toast to its passing.

If you're up for a laugh, there was the special water edition which contains the infamous bubble photo. I blame Sandra wholly and solely for this photo. Quite the furore.


sustainablemum said…
Sounds like a wonderful magazine that has been an important part of your life for so many years.
Jo said…
Barbara, I must admit to loving EG the most back in the day when it was a black and white mag, with line drawings by Jill Redwood, and every square centimetre was packed with useful and practical information. You could read for a week and still find bits you'd missed!

Chris, I am sorry to say I must have missed that issue. Do please consider publishing a photo on your blog as a tribute to the passing of EG:)

sustainablemum, it was a very useful publication that taught me so much of what I know about gardening, back in the day. Its writers had a very friendly tone and 'can do' attitude which was very refreshing.
Mary said…
Sounds like an excellent magazine. Sorry I never got to read it, or your articles. I do enjoy your blog writing so much!
GretchenJoanna said…
It does sound like a magazine I would have been reading if I lived down there! Do you think there is any chance of your putting more of your material on the blog, that you would have written for the magazine? I realize it's not the same venue at all, for more reasons than the money!
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Well that's one less thing I have to worry about. :-)

Everything is a story. I guess it's all in the past now. So I was at a Sustainability Festival many years ago, manning a store for a local seed group. It was a lot of fun, and truly, talking rubbish to people all day long is hardly a chore for some. The EG folks were also there, and as you do, I got talking to them. Turns out the ladies in the office were plugging hard to get the infamous bubble photo on the front cover, and boss man was the dissenting opinion and he had his way. Almost famous, but not quite. :-)

I always enjoyed your writing for them, many of the other writers I have deep respect for, but others had gotten stale (and I write that in the knowledge that the criticism could be turned on myself, hopefully at some point in the future, maybe). It was an inspiring magazine.

The world turns, and change is with us always. Fear not change, for the strong tree is the one which bends with the winds. There is strength in you. And writing is an act of magic.

How's Paul doing?


Jo said…
Mary, thank you! I'm so glad, and I hope to publish more in my lifetime:)

Gretchen Joanna, now that the magazine has closed down I could indeed publish my former articles, that is a very good idea. Some of them were inspired by blog posts and would be very repetitive, but I'll go back and have a look.

Chris, writing is indeed magic:) And so is reading, a transformative experience.
The world is indeed poorer for you not having made the cover of EG presumably in a bubble bath!
And Paul is fighting fit and up to his eyebrows in work for a project which is due to be installed next week. Microcontrollers for giant potato sheds. Got to keep Tassie's potatoes happy. He is the potato whisperer:)

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