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Jan/Feb 2006 – The No-Sxx-Please-Free Range-Thinking-of-Going-Organic-But-Not-Sure-Part-Time-Grassfed-Sustainable-Mixed-Livestock Small Farmer

First, my personal assurance to the anonymous subscriber whose response to our recent reader survey included the scrawled note that Small Farm Canada must never run “sxx ads”: we won’t, if you mean people sex ads. If you don’t want to read about breeders and animal reproduction, then I suggest you let your subscription to the magazine lapse.

What to make of the masses of returned reader surveys? For starters, the volume of replies suggests that readers feel strongly about the magazine. At a recent publishing seminar I heard of a major Canadian big city magazine that was pleased if a hundred surveys were returned. So far, we’ve had over 500. And they are still coming. By a whopping margin,the responses were positive—from “keep up the good work” to “why aren;t you monthly?” That’s not to say there weren’t suggestions—there were, especially for great story ideas—but clearly the magazine is meeting a need. Many thanks to all those who took time to fi ll out a survey.

The survey kicked back a lot of interesting results—which we will feature in the next issue. In the meantime, the survey told us:

  1. Canadian small farmers are hungry for practical information— on crops, livestock, growing techniques, equipment and, most of all, other farmers. Watch for these stories in future issues.
  2. There are almost as many sub-categories of farms as there are farmers. In response to the survey question, Which description best suits your farm?, many felt the need to annotate their responses. There were conventional farmers “looking for alternatives” or noncertified organic farmers who “remain open-minded about ways of farming.” Other respondents identifi ed themselves as “sustainable— something” farmers, e.g. “sustainable cow/calf ”, “sustainable environmentally friendly berry farmer.” In several cases, the hyphenating got horribly out of control, as in “south-facing, Perth County-conventional farmer-looking-at-low-input-semi-organic.” Wow—talk about a category of one!

Clearly, there are lots of approaches to farming. Our job at Small Farm Canada is to capture the who, what, why, where, when and how of the most successful of these farms and pass them on in the magazine. Sexlessly, of course.

Small Farm Canada won four awards at the 2005 Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation annual awards, held last fall in Lloydminster. Don Genova picked up a Gold in The Jack Cram Award for Monthly Press Reporting for his article, Fighting Menu Fraud (May/June, 2004). The same article took a Bronze in the Press Feature category. Ray Ford won Gold in The Peter Lewington Award for his article on dealing with loose livestock, When Barbed Wire Isn’t Enough (Fall, 2004). Small Farm Canada also won Gold in The O.R. Evans Award, Press Editorial for Will Someone Open a Window? ( July/August, 2004).