Q&A with Hank Will, Editor-In-Chief at Mother Earth News

By Shelley Pierce | June 5, 2016
by Shelley Pierce
June 5, 2016

After being out of print for several years, the Mother Earth News Almanac has returned, continuing its original mission to empower people to be more self-sufficient.  Mother Earth News Editor-In-Chief, Hank Will, discusses how this revitalized and timeless edition will inspire a new generation of homesteaders and gives you the opportunity to win one of three copies from the Quarto Publishing Group!

1. The Mother Earth News Almanac is an updated edition of the long-out-of-print 1970’s best-seller. It very much has the spirit of its 1970’s counterpart judging by its overall look and feel. Why is this being given a revival now and what has changed and remained the same?

We decided to revive this masterpiece because its messages and spirit are as poignant today as they were back in the ’70s. Mother Earth News has always promoted is a way of life that’s always helpful, always relevant, and draws its inspiration from oldtime practices around the world. So, the tips and information in the almanac will be just as useful to modern readers as it was then – growing a garden and striving toward self-reliance are timeless tasks. The book is very nearly an exact replica, although editors removed the occasional tip that they now know is slightly dangerous or incorrect – our understanding of course evolves with new studies and we’re always learning. Other than those few tips, however, the tone and content are consistent with the original.

2. How does your almanac differ from The Old Farmer’s Almanac? Will the Mother’s Earth News Almanac be re-issued yearly like The Old Farmer’s Almanac?

Unlike traditional almanacs, Mother’s version is much more practical and hands on. Mother’s voice has always been unique – informal, down-to-earth, and playful yet pragmatic. Less of an advice giver and more of a cheerleader for the doers out there.

3. What gardening nuggets of joy can a reader expect to find in the Mother Earth News almanac and why was this gardening related content included in the almanac over other gardening information?

We kept most of the gardening information of the original intact, and chose to do that because of its timelessness. For example, readers will learn how to handle garden pests without chemicals and how to modify a hoe to make weeding easier.

4. Tell us about a feature or two in the almanac that gardeners will find very useful.

The almanac includes a number of planting charts for when and how to sow and harvest a number of plants, as well as charts that show recommended storage conditions and length.

5. Gardening content is just part and parcel of all the content that is offered in this almanac. What other sorts of information can we expect to find?

The almanac includes general tips for cooking, cleaning, and operating a homestead. It also contains DIY inspiration, such as stories of folks who built their own homes. Some of the tips recommend actions modern readers may already take, such as canning produce and cleaning with baking soda, and some are more unique, such as using milk to clean silverware and selling junk for money. There are charts that display recommended dimensions for building birdhouses, illustrations that show readers how to play Cat’s Cradle, and tips on keeping babies happy in their cribs. The almanac doesn’t limit itself in the kinds of fun folklore and useful advice it offers, and readers should easily be able to find something that pleases or teaches them.

6. What is the most unusual gardening feature in the almanac?

The most unusual feature is the beautiful table that contains important, but little known information on what common garden vegetables like or dislike for neighbors. Did you know that beans don’t like to live in proximity with onions but are fine with cucumbers and strawberries? No garden should be planted without this information!

WIN one of three copies of the Mother Earth News Almanac!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Thursday, June 9, 2016 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

What content in the new Mother Earth News Almanac are you looking most forward to reading?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See Rules for more information.)

UPDATE 6/13/16: Congratulations to Denise Pereira, Raquel Catherine Toledo and Amber Herrmann!

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  • Raquel catherine toledo
    Comment added June 7, 2016Reply

    I am looking forward to learning from mothers untraditional voice and wondering if my great grandma read the mothers previous editions published in the 70's and what kind of tie bits of info she usually favored or looked for the most.

  • Denise Pereira
    Comment added June 6, 2016Reply

    I am looking forward to any and all gardening tips and information. I am a novice and really have no idea what I'm doing!

  • Amber
    Comment added June 6, 2016Reply

    I am interested in learning more about DIY recycling projects as well as Wild food sources. :)

  • Christine Glick
    Comment added June 6, 2016Reply

    I'm intetested in which plants do well growing together. Also interested in the DIYs

  • Carol Yemola
    Comment added June 5, 2016Reply

    I want to read the section about how to take care of insects without the use of harmful pesticides. carolyemola at hotmail dot com

  • Ed Yemola
    Comment added June 5, 2016Reply

    I am most interested in reading which plants don't like to be planted in the same area. That should be most informative. edyemola at hotmail dot com

  • Joanna Protz
    Comment added June 5, 2016Reply

    I have enjoyed Mother Earth News over the years. I will be looking forward to their new almanac. I can't really say what I would be enjoying most. I find all the features interesting. Maybe I'll win one! Thanks! :)

  • NR
    Comment added June 5, 2016Reply

    I'm looking forward to articles on heirloom plants because the revival of our food systems, our taste and appreciation for the quality of what we eat, is vital - and gardeners can future that appreciation and demand in our communities.

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