At the Oregon Tilth office, on desks and taped to walls, are a bunch of photocopies of an old In Good Tilth cover that never made it to print.
The image is of a circus strongman, muscular and ripped, in his skivvies. Except the strongman’s head is missing. In its place is a shiny red apple. It’s provocative, odd, hilarious, playful and absurd. It screams: Andrew did this.
When Andrew arrived, In Good Tilth was a black and white newspaper. He immediately set out to transform the publication. Whether it was designing art—he was a gifted painter and eccentric collage-maker—or writing features, Andrew worked tirelessly to bring stories to new audiences. He sold advertisements. He expanded the columns and features. He threw himself into anything that showed promise of improving IGT, even if he didn’t know what he was getting himself into.
Andrew was sensitive, genuine and weird. His soul was gentle, like a gliding whale from the sea he loved so much. But boy, could he get fired up. His enthusiasm for talking to people about the importance of organic agriculture and food was evangelical. Yet his thoughtfulness always won out. He didn’t create demons or enemies in his storytelling. It was always about celebrating what was possible, not belaboring what was standing in the way.
Andrew once shared a book of his poetry with me, enclosing a note that said, “A taste of what a twisted bastard you’ve come to associate yourself with…now I’m off to meditate by a river.”
That was Andrew. An original. Slightly off kilter, but always balanced by compassion and dedication to what he loved. In one moment, he was creating a magazine cover of an almost nude strongman with an apple head. In the next, he was on his back floating on some river under a waxing moon, breathing and being.
IGT continues to evolve. In our community, there isn’t anything like it. Who the hell puts out print publications anymore? But here we are, issue number 28i. Over a quarter of a century later, the magazine still stands. The magazine reaches more than 25,000 people through print and online each quarter.
Andrew’s vision, belief and stewardship of IGT have made it a treasured resource, elevating Oregon Tilth’s profile nationally. We are indebted to him. We are thankful for him. We are proud of him.
After working behind the scenes for over 60 issues, it’s only fitting to put our bard out front. Our cover is no apple-head strongman. The illustration honors Andrew and some of his passions: writing, stewardship of the land, painting and being out on the river. Furthermore, our masthead will forever remember Andrew for his work and dedication to IGT.
Rest in peace, Andrew. We’ll miss you.
“The surf spit me back to the shore. Grateful for the experience.”
— Andrew Rodman (1963-2017)