Jim Murphy & Sons

More digging, driving, dining…more Ozarks Living

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If I told you this was the last issue of GREENE Magazine, it might give you pause. You can relax; it’s okay. As we’ve been ballyhooing on our new Facebook page, we’re just growing up. And out, as it turns out. With GREENE available in 400 locations, you might say we’ve outgrown the name in our quest to bring Ozarks living and lore to your back yard.

Bothwell Lodge near Sedalia

The estate known as Bothwell north of Sedalia is now a state park, with the home of John Bothwell on display in its original decor.

So with all the fanfare we can muster, welcome to Ozarks Living, the new name of this modest journal come Feb. 1, 2014.

Ozarks Living, the new name of this modest journal come Feb. 1, 2014

But before I go on, a word of thanks to all the readers, advertisers, writers, fans on Facebook, old friends, new friends, relatives, complete strangers and lest we forget, our spouses, for your loving support along the way. Some of you have even saved every copy along the way. May they increase in value.

Although Ozarks Living is a reflection of reality exceeding our wildest dreams, many of you have shown a passion for this adventure that meant you delivered a handful of copies to the Springfield/Branson International Airport for visitors to read. Or to Turners Station, or your doctors’ offices. Or your favorite coffee bistro or after-hours hangout. School and public librarians put us on their shelves., and while no one raised a ruckus over our content, they did point out the occasional typographical error.

Friends of the Library added us to their inventory (with proceeds donated to the cause). Friends of the Garden members hauled magazines by the case to wherever gardeners go to meet and greet. Master Gardeners of Missouri met in Springfield and shared a complimentary issue with their membership.

When Ozarks native Mike Noggle and I created GREENE, it seemed enough just to get the first issue off the press – if you only knew. He did the heavy lifting, like sales and keeping our heads above water. I did what we can “research.” He drove; I observed. More than once, we gave thanks we never grew up. Thanks, Mike.

If someone had asked us to think five years ahead, a name change would probably not have occurred to us. Maybe it should have, but e were busy celebrating the opening of the Springfield/Greene County Botanical Center in October 2010. We were celebrating the uniquely public gardens, thanking those whose foresight created the Japanese Stroll Garden, Gray/Campbell Farmstead in Nathanael Greene Park – seamlessly adjoining the Close Memorial Gardens, where 30-plus gardens and collections attracted conservatively half-a-million visitors in 2013. As often as we could, we pointed out that gardening is by far the most popular pastime in America. And that Missouri is the No. 1 camping destination. And that Springfield has the most diverse weather in the nation.

Meanwhile, we include the Friends of the Garden newsletter, which now reaches every member by mail six times a year. We called it a “benefit of membership,” and it’s still the best bargain in Springfield and the Ozarks in a community known to have spent more per capita on lawn and garden products than any other place with the exception of Portland, Ore. and Spokane, Wash.

Some might even say we’ve grown too big for our britches, but since I resemble that remark, I will confess that one of my biggest challenges was realizing this was a “real magazine.” It helped that “real advertisers” stepped up smartly and got “real customers” in return.

But then it happened. We went too far: all the way to museums such as the unexpected Daum Museum of Contemporary Art at State Fair Community College in Sedalia; the remarkable Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Ark.; to places so far off the tourism maps that readers said our “One-Tank Trip” stories were among their favorites. We told them about the Million Dollar Tomato at Marshfield Greenhouse, Hidden Waters Nature Park in Marshfield, where you can jump across the head waters of the Niangua River; about the Lead Mine Produce Auction, where Amish Farmers come several times a week by wagon to sell veggies you can dine on locally the next day. And wherever we went, there were all these folksy little restaurants like the Undercliff Grill & Bar, Williams’ in Sedalia, serving pan-fried chicken, gizzards at Uncle Rooster’s in Seymour (Mike’s favorite); barbecue, pie, pizza, fried pickles, green beans, okra, tomatoes and well, I gained a few more pounds.

All in the name of research, mind you, we traveled to Jolly Mill, Dawt Mill, Hodgson Mill, Alley Spring in Missouri; and Mammoth Spring, and Blue Spring in Arkansas; we explored the stunning beauty of Dogwood Canyon, the White River, North Fork and Jack’s Fork.

Mind you, we also explored our own back yards, where some know-how and a little common sense can save you thousands of dollars; attract 25 varieties of Missouri butterflies; bees and helpful bugs. Melissa Adler took on the Hail to the Chefs feature in her personal quest to find the best chefs, cooks and baby bottle washers in the Ozarks; Jim Long writes about herbaceous living from Long Creek Farm, while Jeanne Duffey reflects from her garden at Turner Station, from the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, and from the streets of Hong Kong.

Realizing how many of us love to attract birds, Dave Catlin flew to the rescue; Dr. Stuart Hoover helped us live healthier and more wisely; Marilyn Odneal reports from the MSU Research Station at Mountain Grove. Dave Casaletto wrote Ozarks Water Watch. Paul Robertson founded the Springfield Organic Gardening Club and wrote about it. Tom Lakowske wrote from Eden’s Shade. The Library Center kept us well-supplied with gardening book fare.

And yet, somehow, our work is not yet finished. We still haven’t been to Peculiar or Tightwad, Mo., or Turkey Scratch and Toad Suck, Ark.

Now that’s Ozarks Living.

George Freeman is transitioning from editor of GREENE Magazine to Ozarks Living, where he hopes to continue writing from the Outer Office or perhaps at a table near you. You can now reach him at Editor@OzarksLiving.com. A Master Gardener, he also posts a few words and photos on Facebook.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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