Books + Magazines shes-a-keeper-cover

Published on July 9th, 2008 | by Autumn Wiggins

8

Not Marijuana.

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I did not pick up this magazine at my local book store because I was half-baked and looking for a quick giggle. No, my dears, the header of “Food as Celebration | Passionate Gardening | Nostalgic Crafts and Stitchery” was just as eye catching.

Mary Jane’s Farm, a publication of Mary Jane Butters, appears to be Martha Stewart Living for organic farm girls, or those of us who wish they were organic farm girls. Usually, I have a big problem with putting one person’s name and image all over things that were the combined effort of many talented people. However, my distaste of personified brands was trumped by aesthetically charming, recycled pages awash with useful content, and the company’s dedication to recycling and alternative energy usage.

The indie craft community has made an incredible group effort to distance itself from the country craft persona. The irony of what we refer to as “country crafts” is that at the height of its popularity, the corporate powers that be regurgitated its themes into manufactured crap. Mary Jane’s Farm magazine shows us what REAL country crafting is: functional, resourceful, feminine, sustainable.  All without ducks in bonnets or apple basket motifs.

In it’s current quarterly issue, there are a myriad of sewing projects for vintage white linens, including an inventive plastic bottle bag. Their perspective on remixing thrift store finds and every day disposables is refreshing… a notable departure from the retro-kitsch trend. I fancy their effort to combine DIY with gardening too. You’ll find instructions for planting a vegetable garden in an old file box, and creating a kitchen compost bin for your organic food scraps.

The accompanying website leaves a lot to be desired. Navigation is confusing, and they really want to sell you some books, which I look forward to reviewing.  This shouldn’t deter you from picking up the magazine though, and their thriving online community, The Farmgirl Connection, is worth checking out as well.  It’s like the Craft Mafia, just not as badass.

To sum it up, what I like most about Mary Jane’s Farm is how inclusive they are to those of us in cities and suburbs. Many articles are written with urban farming in mind, and address the gentle process of creating a life free from the pressures of mainstream consumerism.

So, go pick up a copy today, and kindly excuse immature onlookers who make pot jokes about it.

Image Credit: Mary Jane’s Farm available for subscription on their website and at news stands nationwide

Additional Shout Out: Thanks to the infamous NotMartha.com blog for inspiring my title.

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About the Author

This 2008 interview pretty much sums it up: 1. How would you describe yourself? An oddly situated performer of thought experiments 2. Do you have any anecdotes about your work (how you got started, frustrating moments, or funny stories)? At this year's Maker Faire in San Mateo, I gave a presentation on how the trend of green crafting can ultimately address the problem of consumption and waste. Dale Dougherty,the publisher of Make and Craft, later had a gift delivered to me, a staple bound book of poetry: Music Like Dirt by Frank Bidart. This is the last thing one would expect to take home from an event so focused on renegade technology. To my surprise, it was an existential reflection on the human need to make things that I now find myself going back to whenever I need some inspiration to look beyond the materials and processes of crafting. 3. What kinds of things do you do for fun? In my spare time I enjoy amateur astronomy, outdoor adventures, collecting domain names, and hanging out at coffee shops. 4. What interesting projects are you working on right now? I'm working to organize community involvement in upcycling, and have a few top-secret website projects up my sleeves! 5. Where do you live? Kids, pets, spouse, occupation? O'Fallon, IL, a suburb (and I mean a totally typical suburb) of St. Louis, MO. Rather than moving to the more culture friendly urban environment, I am staying put and annoying the heck out of Wal-Mart by throwing a massive indie craft show(Strange Folk) in their backyard. I have a husband, Doug, and two sons: a 7 year old mad scientist named Jack, and 6 year old Max, who we think is an aspiring tattoo artist since he's so fond of drawing all over himself with markers. To pay the bills, I do freelance writing, mural painting, and website design, sell my handmade crafts, teach art classes for kids, and work part -time at a local coffee shop. 6. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently? The concept known as "Cradle-to-Cradle" is a blueprint for sustainability that states everything we manufacture should be either biodegrable, infinitely recyclable, or intended to be upcycled. This is the basis for many of my ideas of how the crafting community can be more widely involved in solving the environmental crisis. 7. What is your favorite food/color/tool? granola/green/sewing machine!



  • Skye Kilaen

    This seems really interesting, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  • http://www.theokobox.com Leslie Richard

    I am really into farming and gardening- it’s so much easier when you live out in rural areas though. The last two years I have been urban gardening I have so many more problems to deal with then I ever did when I lived out in the woods. In the woods animals have enough to eat, so they don’t bother my garden, the creeeks are full of clean water, and there’s plenty space to avoid poisonous trees like black walnuts. City gardening is way more rough…but I am learning. I love these kind of magazines too, I am like a fly on shit when it comes to crafty gardening farm mags!

  • http://www.theokobox.com Leslie Richard

    I am really into farming and gardening- it’s so much easier when you live out in rural areas though. The last two years I have been urban gardening I have so many more problems to deal with then I ever did when I lived out in the woods. In the woods animals have enough to eat, so they don’t bother my garden, the creeeks are full of clean water, and there’s plenty space to avoid poisonous trees like black walnuts. City gardening is way more rough…but I am learning. I love these kind of magazines too, I am like a fly on shit when it comes to crafty gardening farm mags!

  • http://www.theokobox.com Leslie Richard

    I am really into farming and gardening- it’s so much easier when you live out in rural areas though. The last two years I have been urban gardening I have so many more problems to deal with then I ever did when I lived out in the woods. In the woods animals have enough to eat, so they don’t bother my garden, the creeeks are full of clean water, and there’s plenty space to avoid poisonous trees like black walnuts. City gardening is way more rough…but I am learning. I love these kind of magazines too, I am like a fly on shit when it comes to crafty gardening farm mags!

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  • Jill Chambers

    In theory MARY JANE FARM magazine is a good idea with healthy organic simple living but encouraging women to turn into quiet obedient baking and apron wearing bimbos is going backwards in evolution. At least Martha was smart enough to have her own portfolio. Can we please have a rolemodel for kitcheny girls that teaches independence and how to use her brain along with growing, eating right and embriodering cutsy toilet paper covers?

  • Jill Chambers

    In theory MARY JANE FARM magazine is a good idea with healthy organic simple living but encouraging women to turn into quiet obedient baking and apron wearing bimbos is going backwards in evolution. At least Martha was smart enough to have her own portfolio. Can we please have a rolemodel for kitcheny girls that teaches independence and how to use her brain along with growing, eating right and embriodering cutsy toilet paper covers?

  • Jill Chambers

    In theory MARY JANE FARM magazine is a good idea with healthy organic simple living but encouraging women to turn into quiet obedient baking and apron wearing bimbos is going backwards in evolution. At least Martha was smart enough to have her own portfolio. Can we please have a rolemodel for kitcheny girls that teaches independence and how to use her brain along with growing, eating right and embriodering cutsy toilet paper covers?

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