Founded in 1984, Chelsea Green Publishing is recognized as a leading publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living, publishing authors who bring in-depth, practical knowledge to life, and give readers hands-on information related to organic farming and gardening, permaculture, ecology, the environment, simple living, food, sustainable business and economics, green building, and more.
In 2012, Chelsea Green decided to practice what it publishes and became an employee-owned company, creating an ESOP in which employees control 78 percent of the company’s privately held stock; the remaining stock is held by the founders.
Chelsea Green is also an industry leader when it comes to book publishing as a craft, too. Our team of editors works closely with each author to develop their manuscript before it even heads into the production and design process. We also have in-house design, sales, and marketing teams—including events, media, and publicity outreach, as well as social media and online marketing guidance—that allow us to provide a full suite of support services for our authors. We are a founding member of the Green Press Initiative and have been printing books on recycled paper since 1985, when our books first appeared in bookstores.
We lead the industry both in terms of content—foundational books on renewable energy, green building, organic agriculture, eco-cuisine, and ethical business—and in terms of environmental practice, printing 95 percent of our books on recycled paper with a minimum 30 percent post-consumer waste and aiming for 100 percent whenever possible. We also print our books in North America, as opposed to overseas like many publishers, with most of our printing partners based in the United States.
This approach is a perfect example of what is called a ”triple bottom line“ practice, one that benefits people, planet, and profit, and the emerging new model for sustainable businesses in the 21st century.
VT Business Magazine: An Interview with Founders Margo and Ian Baldwin
Chelsea Green Publishing was established by Ian and Margo Baldwin in 1984, with the publication of The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono. Today, Chelsea Green is considered the major publisher of books on sustainable living.
Ian, 67, served as CEO from the company's beginning until the mid-1990s, when Stephen Morris was hired to eventually take over the day-to-day business operations, while Ian moved on to focus on other publishing ventures and his art. Morri's left in 2002 when Margo, 55, stepped back in to run the company and redefine its mission.
The new mission statement in 2003 says of the company's redefined sense of direction, in part: "...Is it enough to focus on the how-to of 'green living' in the face of such overwhelming force, the 'shock and awe' of forest and ecosystem destruction, the rampant plundering of the world's oceans, the terror of GMO-contaminated-food, and the unintended consequences of biotechnology? We wish to move the company forward boldly and with a new sense of urgency. While continuing our commitment to remain at the forefront of information about green building, organic growing, and renewable energy - the practical aspects of sustainability - we will also publish for a new politics of sustainability, for the cultural resistance that living demands of us now."
Ian is a co-founder of the Marion Institute which sponsors the www.metahistory.org website. He is also part of Vermont Commons, an organization dedicated to the proposition that Vermonters should peaceably secede from the United States and govern themselves as an independent republic. The Straw Bale House, Gaviotas, The Four Season Harvest and the recent Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff Chelsea Green's first New York Times bestseller - are some of the company's better known titles.
Chelsea Green titles have received numerous awards over the years, including ALA and Booklist Notable Books of the Year, the John Burroughs Medal, James Beard Award finalist and the Garden Globe Award.
The Baldwins live in Chelsea and have two children. Ian also has two children from a previous marriage.
VBM: I'd like to begin with your background. How did you come to Vermont, how did the two of you meet, and how did you a become involved in this business?
In 2014, Chelsea Green celebrated 30 years of independent publishing with the release of The Chelsea Green Reader. In addition, the company’s longevity, and business practices were featured in a number of local and national publications. Here is a selection:
- Progressive Publisher Chelsea Green has found a Novel Way to Success
- Three Decades in Print: Chelsea Green Publishing Revels in Its Independence
- Publishers Weekly – Chelsea Green: Sustainability at 30