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Archant magazine celebrates 40th birthday with new look

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Staff on Archant’s Country Smallholding magazine have been celebrating the title’s 40th birthday with a bumper 128-page issue … and a redesign.

A special 12-page section includes the story of the launch, the first topics covered and describes how the magazine has developed over the years. There is a selection of covers and even an interview with a couple who have taken the magazine for its entire history.

The magazine, initially called Practical Self Sufficiency, was launched in November 1975 by Essex smallholders Katie and David Thear. It was rebranded several times and became Country Smallholding in 1999. Two years later it was bought by the Eastern Counties Newspaper Group, which later became part of Archant. Country Smallholding, part of Archant’s portfolio of rural magazines, is now produced from the Barnstaple office along with Your Chickens and Agricultural Trader.

In telling the story of the launch, David Thear explained how he and Katie were concerned about the growth of commercially-driven, intensive farming, and wanted to promote an alternative, small-scale and more environmentally-friendly approach. The magazine immediately took off, and the first issue had to be reprinted several times.

Current editor Simon McEwan said: “Practical Self Sufficiency was in the vanguard of a flourishing new movement. Among those to write for the first issue was John Seymour, who became something of a ‘good life guru’, and organic gardening expert Lawrence D. Hills. The TV sitcom The Good Life was launched at about the same time. At the outset, the movement was considered radical, even cranky, but over the decades these ideas have become much more mainstream. Hopefully, Country Smallholding has played a small part in this shift in awareness.”

To celebrate the birthday, the very first issue of Practical Self Sufficiency has been reproduced by the Country Smallholding team in digital format at and this is being promoted on the magazine’s website.

Country Smallholding was redesigned by Jennifer Newman and colleagues in Archant’s design team at Norwich. The birthday issue goes on sale on September 24.

Pictured above, Country Smallholding editor Simon McEwan and colleagues celebrate the magazine’s 40th birthday at Archant’s Barnstaple office.

© Archant Ltd 2013