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As every magazine reader knows, this has been an awful decade for the business of journalism. Advertising declined, jobs disappeared. Great magazines shrank or closed.

This magazine has thrived. Not because we are immune from the vagaries of business cycles; we aren’t.

But we serve a particular niche, growers of tree fruit and grapes, who as a group are remarkably resilient and committed to investment in their businesses. That’s why advertisers seek that audience.

I like to think continued success of this magazine begins with the loyalty of our readers and our advertisers.

They come to these pages for the most trusted, in-depth reporting, presented in large format with informative photographs and graphics.

They go to goodfruit.com for videos, discussions and additional information.

But the true foundation of that loyalty and our success is our mission. Unlike some of our competitors, we are a nonprofit educational entity owned by growers, the Washington State Fruit Commission.

We exist to serve growers, not to make money from them. We pursue our mission and find ways to cover our costs from that. Fortunately, it’s worked well for us.

Our mission has brought many exciting changes to this magazine. Perhaps the most exciting is also a little bit scary.

Last December, we launched a Spanish version of our website with guidance from an advisory board; that group shares our commitment to a Spanish report that meets the same high standards of our English report.

We launched the Spanish site for the simple reason that Spanish speakers are an enormously important part of the grower community. Since our job is to transmit educational information and to build community, serving Spanish speakers is a natural outgrowth of that commitment.

Natural, but not easy.

We launched the Spanish site (goodfruit.com/es) without adding staff, and none of us on staff had experience running a Spanish magazine.

We commissioned some original articles and videos in Spanish and began a careful process of translating and vetting English articles from our archives and recent issues.

We mainly relied on internal staff resources and the exceptional volunteer help of our advisory board. We received additional help from the Washington State Tree Fruit Association and our premier sponsor, G.S. Long Co.

Our Spanish site gained notice. We heard from people throughout Washington and the U.S., from surprised and delighted readers in Mexico, Spain and South America. Many praised the content and thanked us for addressing an underserved audience.

They also pressed us to do more, and I agree. Seven months since our launch, I’ve realized that our efforts in Spanish need to accelerate in order to deliver a comprehensive report that is relevant to our audience.

We need to do more, better, faster. We need to:

—Increase the number and speed of our translations while maintaining quality.
—Do more with video, always an effective tool for conveying important information.
—Build a feedback system with our intended audience and others to ensure we’re doing things right.
—Aggressively market our new content to Spanish speakers. We’ve already taken some steps by promoting ourselves at Spanish-language events, doing test marketing on Facebook to Spanish-speaking audiences, and by launching a Spanish version of our popular eFlash newsletter.

We have a long way to go before more Spanish speakers in the grower community know about our site and start using and sharing it.

To do all this, we need more resources. We need to find them in ways that don’t compete with the English-language magazine, our main enterprise.

In the next several months, we’ll be approaching potential partners about support for this work.
We’re taking steps on a challenging new path, but following our mission of service to growers has always worked out — for the magazine and, more importantly, for our readers.

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As an added convenience to our readers in Washington’s Yakima Valley region, Good Fruit Grower is now on sale at Inklings Bookshop at 5629 Summitview Ave. in Yakima. •

– by O. Casey Corr, managing editor of Good Fruit Grower. He can be reached at
casey.corr@goodfruit.com