With the fertile soil of the river banks and glacial till, the Hudson Valley has long been regarded as a prime location for farming. And now it's proving a productive place for a different take on agriculture.
Based out of a second-floor office on Warren Street in Hudson, Modern Farmer has become a global media brand. The magazine is, in its own words, "for window-herb growers, career farmers, people who have chickens, people who want to have chickens and anyone who wants to know more about how food reaches their plate." In just its first year of publishing, Modern Farmer has already won a National Magazine Award, and it's attracted attention online via features such as Goat Week (complete with a goat cam).
So why set up in Hudson? I asked Ann Marie Gardner, CEO/editor-in-chief of Modern Farmer, to find out.
Why was Hudson chosen as the home base of the magazine?
I've spent the last decade living in the Hudson Valley, and while it's not exactly a media hub, it most certainly is a hub for farming and agriculture; for the "Rurban" lifestyle happening all around us. We have proven that you can run a global media brand from Hudson!
What has the experience in Hudson been like so far? Has the community been receptive?
Hudson has been incredibly receptive and inspirational! I think the biggest challenge we've faced here was the initial perception that we're a local magazine, when we're very much global.
Other farming-related groups, like the National Young Farmers Coalition, are based in the Hudson Valley. Have you had the chance to work with them?
Yes, we are huge supporting of the NYFC and are trying to find more ways to work together. We write about local farms alongside global farms and farmers, and we sponsor as many local farming events as we can, even if it's just to supply free magazines. You will see most of the Modern Farmer team at the Hudson farmers market on Saturday mornings.
What prompted you to start Modern Farmer? How has it impacted the agricultural community?
The idea for Modern Farmer -- a global agriculture publication focused on the people, food, animals, tools and technology behind the food we eat -- came to me while I was a reporter for Monocle magazine, traveling all over the world, but living here in the Hudson Valley. I began to see that no matter where I went -- from Brazil to Iceland -- people were interested in food safety, global warming, rural living, gardens, growing their own food, owning their own chickens and sheep... I had these conversations with urban people in Italy, in France, London, Japan, NYC, and of course here in the Hudson Valley, where my neighbors are farmers and these ideas aren't out of the ordinary at all. I could see that this info-seeking consumer was literally transcending all demographics and that the "Modern Farmer" wasn't just a story, it was an entire global movement.
Food and farming go hand-in-hand, obviously. No farms, no food! What are some of your (or the Modern Farmer family's) favorite places to eat in and around Hudson?
We're more farm than table, we like to say, but on any given night we might be at Food Studio or DABA. We love Kat, the bartender at Fish & Game -- we go there a lot for drinks. But mostly you'll find us at Bonfiglio & Bread -- for breakfast and lunch. (Would eat dinner there too if it were open for dinner!)
This interview has been lightly edited.
Modern Farmer is available at outlets such as Honest Weight, Whole Foods, and Healthy Living Market, as well as some local bookstores. The current issue features farm dogs on the cover.
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