MaryJane’sFarm MagazineMarch 18, 2010
For my birthday I was given a subscription to MaryJane’sFarm magazine and some people have asked for my opinion. I’m still getting familiar with it. An annoyance to me is that farm girl is the preferred description of all readers and contributors, many of whom do not live near, let alone, on a farm – but as long as you are a farm girl in your heart that is good enough. The problem is, I’m not sure I am a farm girl in my heart. I don’t want to raise crops or cows. While I have a garden, pet llamas, and bees, 4.5 acres of elbow room and live in a rural community, I think I am both physically and mentally a country woman – but not a farm girl. And so as I read the magazine I feel a bit excluded – as if I’m not actually suppose to be a reader. I am trying to get past the “farm girl” thing – I figure I either have to overlook it (which is really hard – they must use the phrase 3 times on every page!) or accept my inner farm girl. If I could just think “country woman” every time I see “farm girl” I would probably feel better.
However, that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the magazine. Well, enjoy might not be exactly the right sentiment, I think I mean “value”. I am finding value in the magazine. One of my rules of thumb for determining whether I’ll spend time with other issues of a magazine is whether I find something useful, interesting, or cut-out-worthy in each issue – and yes, I do find that in each MaryJane’sFarm. So it has value to me. And it is nice to read a “woman’s” magazine that isn’t full of beauty and fashion tips. That is valuable also.
MaryJane’sFarm magazine has been compared to Martha Stewart’s Living magazine. I can see the resemblance. Both speak to women who like to “do”. Martha speaks to upscale wannabes, Mary Jane speaks to Idaho farm girl wannabes. They both have a tone suggesting that their lifestyle is perfect in everyway. Martha’s tone is a bit hoity. Mary Jane’s is heavy on nostalgia (all the pictures look like they were taken sometime between 1935 and 1962). Perhaps I would be really bored with a magazine focused on the Midwest woman who is trying to balance a family and professional life in a green and sustainable manner. Or maybe I’m writing it here.
But as I said, there is much to value in MaryJane’sFarm magazine. There is a strong emphasis on organic foods – so that’s a good thing. [Mary Jane has a line of seemingly miscellaneous organic foods (the chocolates are tempting, the baking mixes, not so much) including a selection of instant camping and backpacking foods. They have to be better than the packages of backpacking foods we took with us back in the 70’s. If the family ever goes camping again I may give them a chance.] There are recipes in each issue of the magazine, of course, and also articles on making things – such as a lamp from a globe this month that looks pretty nifty (we may still have a broken globe around too….) There seems to be a monthly feature of a carpentry project – I like the assumption that a woman can find her way around a toolbox. The articles are generally first person pieces or stories about women that fit some theme for that month (this month seemed to be about chickens). Most read like blog posts – which are just fine in a blog, but seem a bit thin for a print magazine. I find I’m mostly cutting out little boxed information items to look up later on the web or recipes for my husband to try. (Yes, I know, I am a lucky gal.)
So that’s my review. In a nutshell, MaryJane’sFarm is not my favorite magazine (which is probably Martha Stewart’s Body and Soul, although it is a little heavy on the beauty and fashion tips – I ended up with it when Organic Style went under – that was even better as I recall), but not my least favorite either. My friend got me the subscription in part because she thought it might be a venue for me to contribute my writing. I haven’t explored that aspect of it yet. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future there will be an article in MaryJane’sFarm from a Midwest Country Woman.