CORNVILLE — When Ann and Andrew Mefferd, then 31 and 32, moved from Pennsylvania to Cornville in 2008, they did so with a purpose and a plan: organic farming with an eye on the business of marketing their eggs, meat and produce directly to the consumer.

The Mefferds both have college degrees in environmental studies, and both worked as apprentices on organic farms before buying the 127-acre Beckwith Farm on Route 150, 5 miles from the market town of Skowhegan. They call it One Drop Farm.

Andrew worked for Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow during the day, while Ann worked the farm.

Fast-forward to 2016, and the Mefferds have two children, a thriving produce business of hoop houses and two new business ventures – a national magazine and a well-established seedling business.

This month the couple bought a national magazine called Growing for Market and will move all of the publication’s operations from its current offices in Kansas to the farm in Cornville.

Founded in 1992, Growing for Market is a magazine for market gardeners and farmers. Its mission is to help local food producers be successful by publishing practical, farmer-written articles about growing and selling food, flowers and plants.

Now in its 25th year of publication, the magazine was founded by author and flower farming expert Lynn Byczynski.

“She started it because she saw that there were a lot of good useful publications, but there wasn’t one directly focused on small sustainable farms taking their produce directly to market,” Ann Mefferd said.

She said Byczynski had been a partner at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, which is where she met Andrew Mefferd, who was then a senior trial technician at the Winslow company and who also has a degree in journalism. Andrew spent the next five years writing a column for Growing for Market.

When it was time for Byczynski to think about retirement, she called Andrew and offered the Mefferds the opportunity to buy the magazine, which is published 10 times a year with a circulation of about 5,000.

A LONG TRIAL BY FIRE

The first locally produced issue of the magazine is due out in early March.

Ann Mefferd said the long road to sustainability at the farm in Cornville has been a learning experience right from the beginning.

“Our business acumen has been a long trial by fire – learn by surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do kind of route,” she said. “We didn’t have a background in business, but we definitely came at farming as something we wanted to successfully pursue. We started out with the touchy-feely farming and planting whatever we wanted to grow, then very quickly got into record keeping and enterprise investment, realizing how beneficial it is to really know as much as you can about your business.”

She and Andrew spent the last year crunching numbers, visiting banks and establishing a business plan before they decided to buy the magazine. They finalized the deal this month.

Andrew, who retired as a communications specialist for protected culture at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, is now the owner, publisher and editor of Growing for Market magazine.

He said the 24-page magazine has been successful as a national publication, and he hopes to keep that going with quality writing and colorful presentation.

“In every issue what we will try to do is give timely news and advice for direct market growers,” he said. “By that we mean people who sell their agricultural production direct to their customers. It’s the opposite of wholesaling.”

Magazine topics can include food safety and how local producers will comply with new federal safety rules, direct local marketing, greenhouse and hoop house growing, weather and the four seasons in various parts of the country. Andrew will write articles while he will also pay farmers to add content.

“We’re seeing this huge demand for local foods, so the challenge is how to stretch out the local food season,” he said. “There are a lot of subscribers here in Maine. Maine definitely punches above its weight for the population of the state. Maine in specific and the Northeast in general have a lot of subscribers because Maine is a great local farming state. People like to buy directly from the producer.”