Hank Will Comes Home to MOTHER EARTH NEWS

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Photo courtesy Hank Will
Oscar "Hank" Will III currently pastures Mulefoot hogs and Highland cattle, keeps a flock of chickens and turkeys, and grows a large food garden on his Osage County, Kansas, farm.

When I was a kid, I spent as much time outdoors as possible and grew to love gardening, growing trees, camping, hiking, and just about any activity that would get me out of the house. I also sought jobs that would offer me independence and a chance to be outside. And though I dreamt of becoming a ranch hand or a grassland ranger, a paper route and a lawn-mowing business were among my earliest bouts of gainful employment.

Those early jobs offered me some financial independence, and, more importantly, the wherewithal to lobby my folks to help me make my first couple of mail-order purchases. My folks were not real trusting of the mail-order concept, but in the 1960s, I fixated on subscribing to a magazine called Organic Gardening and Farming. My 10-year-old mind just knew that I could build better soil and grow better vegetables if I learned to do it without bottles labeled with a skull and crossbones.

A few years into reading Organic Gardening and Farming, I ran across an ad for a magazine that would surely feed most of my other passions as a new teenager. Once again, I cut out the form, filled in my name and address, and got my mom to write a check from my bank account for yet another venture into the mail-order unknown. This time, it was for a subscription to a brand-new magazine called The Mother Earth News. The year was 1970. I was smitten with the first issue and at least the next 60 or 70 issues, which I carried around with me — to college, to graduate school, to my first farm. Some of the most compelling and useful information (to me) came from two departments: firsthand reports and bootstrap businesses.

In 2007, my path led me here, to take an editorial position with GRIT magazine, another of our publications. In time, I was promoted to Editor-in-Chief of Grit magazine. And then, to Editorial Director for all media brands at Ogden Publications, including Mother Earth News. With Cheryl Long’s retirement at the end of January, I now find myself at home again with Mother, serving as both Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Director. The fit feels right, and, yes, you’ll see some small changes as we continue to bring you more of what you ask for, such as firsthand reports and bootstrap businesses. These new/old departments will be reader-generated, so don’t be shy about sharing your experiences! I’d like to hear about your successes and failures, and I promise to tell you about mine. Please email me — and send a photo or two, if you can. We love to see our community members doing what they love to do.

See you in August,


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