Dig Deeper


Farm Photo Friday: October 31, 2014

Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers? The staff members who keep this farm chugging along. Enjoy a sneak peek at what’s going on here at Rodale Institute! Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers? The staff members who keep this farm chugging along. Enjoy a sneak peek at what’s going on here at Rodale Institute!

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Kathline Chery, one of our interns with the Agriculture Supported Communities (ASC) program, loading up some fresh organic produce which will be distributed to ASC member.

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Marisa Wagner, Research Technician, working on getting soil samples ready for analysis. First step is to remove pieces too big for the machine to handle. Why are we doing this? Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy People.

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She prepares the sample using a sieve. You can see some larger pieces that won’t make the cut.

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It’s time to shake it, shake it, shake it!

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Who knew soil sieving could be so much fun?!

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Oh boy, that soil sample is looking fine. No big pieces left, good job Marisa!

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Say hello to our new fancy incubator! We use this to control temperature to recreate different kinds of weather. This way we can do research to find out what methods work best to grow crops in extreme conditions like droughts or floods.

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The incubator is pretty full… full of science, that is!

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Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist, looks pumped up to turn some compost piles!

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See the steam? It’s alive! No, but really, all that steam is energy given off by the microorganisms in the form of heat. Imagine a hundred people in a gymnasium working out at the same time, it would get really hot! Same concept here in the compost pile. Those microscopic critters must be hard at work.

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Here, Rick records the temperature of the next windrow before turning it. Compost is a major area of research at Rodale Institute.

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Congratulations to Bill Lenhard from Facitilties on the birth of his newborn son! Thumbs up to you Bill, you’re a proud Papa!

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This week we welcome Matt Boyer back to the Facilities Department. It’s great to have you back!

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Nina Griffis, Strategic Solutions Team Member, begins separating some lemon grass in one of our geodesic domes.

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Looks like she has her work cut out for her! “Bring it on,” says Nina.

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Separating these clusters produces more plants. If there’s one thing we love, it’s more plants!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

 

Seeking Research Technician

The Rodale Institute Research Technician will be exposed to a variety of applied research programs and practical experience in regenerative agriculture, soil research principles and methodology. (more…)

Project Research Coordinator Needed

The Rodale Institute is searching for a Project Research Coordinator to join our team and participate in a dynamic research program with unlimited outreach potential. This opening is specifically linked to our long running, Farming Systems Trial or FST. This position is a permanent full time position with benefits. (more…)

Recipes: Carrots

Ginger Glazed Carrots
From marthastewart.com

½ pound carrots, peeled but with 1-inch green top left on
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon honey
One 3-inch-by-1/2-inch-piece ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks
1/2 teaspoon thinly sliced red chili pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add carrots; cook until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain carrots; pat dry with paper towels.

Melt butter in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add the carrots, honey, and ginger, and cook, turning carrots frequently, until carrots and ginger are browned, about 8 minutes. Add the chili pepper, and continue to cook until chile is softened, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat, and serve.

***

Roasted Carrots
From Ina Garten and The Food Network

12 carrots
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.) Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.

Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.

***

Ginger Carrot Soup
From The Food Network

2 tablespoons sweet cream butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and white pepper
Sour cream
Parsley sprigs, for garnish

In a 6-quart pan, over medium high heat, add butter and onions and cook, stirring often, until onions are limp. Add broth, carrots, and ginger. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced.

Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Don’t fill the blender more than half way, do it in batches if you have to. Cover the blender and then hold a kitchen towel over the top of the blender*. Be careful when blending hot liquids as the mixture can spurt out of the blender. Pulse the blender to start it and then puree until smooth. Return to the pan and add cream, stir over high heat until hot. For a smoother flavor bring soup to a boil, add salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with dollop sour cream and parsley sprigs.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.
Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Plant Production Specialist Needed

Rodale Institute is currently seeking a Plant Production Specialist.  The individual who fills this position will oversee horticulture operations in all production areas including; greenhouse and field areas of all plants  for wholesale, commercial or research use.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • ♦  Create an annual management plan to be submitted in the fall of the preceding year which will include a projected budget; planting, maintenance, and harvest schedules; and log sheets and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for greenhouse and related field operations.
  • ♦  Work with SST members to prepare soil for all planting areas following strict organic procedures and processes
  • ♦  Physically plant all seeds, transplants bulbs and cuttings.
  • ♦  Responsible for the production of food, ornamentals, landscape, and cut flowers.
  • ♦  Establish plant growing conditions and set planting and care schedules in accordance with organic regulations as set by USDA
  • ♦  Track all production activities using RI approved forms needed for certification purposes.
  • ♦  Supervise volunteers, interns and other labor in the production process
  • ♦  Support SST and RI team members in educational activities for staff, interns, and outside clientele both on-site in-season and at external meetings
  • ♦  Provide information to customers on the care of plants and flowers.
  • ♦  Ability to participate in research projects; testing, gathering and compiling data.
  • ♦  Prepare and apply compost extracts and tea.
  • ♦  Determine types and quantities of plants to be grown, based on budget and projected sales.
  • ♦  Assist Marketing Specialist by monitoring and controlling resources by developing budgets, Profit and Loss statements, and projected sales.
  • ♦  Implement sales strategies to attain organization’s sales goals and profitability.
  • ♦  Assist in developing and controlling sales programs.
  • ♦  Assist in providing information for management by preparing short-term and long-term product sales forecasts and analyses.
  • ♦  Facilitate inventory turnover and product availability by reviewing and adjusting inventory levels and product schedules.
  • ♦  Expand current customer base to include retail.
  • ♦  Provide timely feedback to management regarding sales performance.
  • ♦  Help the Store create a sales floor display in coordination with the Store Manager.
  • ♦  Promote sales of greenhouse products through product development and customer relationships.
  • ♦  Determine market needs through industry research.
  • ♦  Perform other duties as assigned by management.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • ♦  A degree in Greenhouse Management, Horticulture, Biology, or Plant Sciences.
  • ♦  Working knowledge of Soil Microbiology and Botany.
  • ♦  Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • ♦  Express an interest in learning/teaching organic production techniques
  • ♦  3 – 5 years’ experience in horticulture production or agriculture infor a retail sales environment.
  • ♦  Must be knowledgeable of the fast moving developments in the greenhouse sales industry.
  • ♦  Ability to work in all weather conditions.
  • ♦  Knowledge of environmental/ NOP/NOSB regulations.
  • ♦  Ability to work on all types of equipment.
  • ♦  Run, maintain, and repair equipment when needed.
  • ♦  Assist with any and all other Strategic Solutions Team requests.
  • ♦  Public speaking, presentations, workshops, including being a Keynote Speaker for the Institute.
  • ♦  Maintain excellent organic agriculture practices
  • ♦  Must be able to lift in excess of 50 pounds.

 TRAVEL: Travel to workshops and conferences for further education and network opportunities.

OTHER INSTITUTIONAL EXPECTATIONS:

To be trustful and respectful to all staff and visitors.

Food as Medicine

A Partnership between Rodale Institute and St. Luke’s University Health Network

Coach, Farmer Lynn Trizna and St. Luke's Anderson Campus President Ed Nawrocki

Coach, Farmer Lynn Trizna and St. Luke’s Anderson Campus President Ed Nawrocki

In 431 B.C. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

Over 2500 years later, we are inundated with advertisements boasting the latest, greatest cure-all super drug. From a young age, we learn that it doesn’t matter how or what we eat, there is a quick fix around the corner for whatever ails us – whether we’re obese, have high blood pressure, or bad cholesterol – just to name a few of the issues plaguing our society.

It now seems almost revolutionary to think that we can change our health by changing the food we eat.

But, one hospital in Pennsylvania thought just that.

In 2014, Rodale Institute, in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network, launched a true farm to hospital food program.

The Anderson Campus at St. Luke’s has over 300 acres of farmland, much of which had historically been farmed conventionally with crops like corn and soy. The hospital administration recognized the impact that providing fresh, local organic produce could have on patient health and approached Rodale Institute to transition the land to organic and farm vegetables to be used in patient meals as well as in the cafeteria.

Lynn Trizna, or Farmer Lynn, as she’s known around St. Luke’s, provides food to all six hospitals within the Network. This year, she is growing five acres of vegetables with plans to expand to ten acres in coming years. She estimates about 44,000 lbs of produce from her farm will be served in the hospital, just this season. She is paid a salary through Rodale Institute and has employed three staff members, all aspiring farmers.

With a three-year plan in place, Rodale Institute and St. Luke’s see the potential for expansion. We envision growing the program to include fifteen to twenty farmers – supporting new farmers who don’t have access to land; greenhouses that allow for year round production of produce; and a small batch cannery, ensuring that we can enjoy the harvest, even in the coldest months of winter.

We have created this model with the belief that it can, and should, be replicated at every hospital throughout the United States.

So, the next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather, stop – think of us and Hippocrates’ words of wisdom. Maybe you’ll then look to the garden for a cure, instead of the medicine cabinet.

Click here to learn more about this project.

Ask the Farmer: Hay field recovery and cattle

Rodale Institute Farm Director Jeff Moyer talks about what is happening in our fields and yours.

Donna asks:

I searched the internet to find out about cattle and hay fields and your site popped up. We have inherited 27 acres and six head of cattle (two Long-horns and four Herefords). There are three hay fields on the land. I am unsure of the size of the fields, but I know 430 bales of hay were cut this summer. (more…)

Farm Photo Friday: October 24, 2014

Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers? The staff members who keep this farm chugging along. Enjoy a sneak peek at what’s going on here at Rodale Institute!  Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers? The staff members who keep this farm chugging along. Enjoy a sneak peek at what’s going on here at Rodale Institute!

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Michael Horvath is a regular volunteer here at Rodale Institute. Here he starts cleaning turnips for restaurant deliveries. We appreciate all that you do, Mike!

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Marie Shelli, ASC intern, is also cleaning some veggies grown especially for restaurants.

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While fellow ASC intern Kristen Yates does the final packing before they get loaded up for deliveries.

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The goats are making a guest appearance at the Rodale Institute Garden Store and are doing a wonderful job getting rid of some pesky poison ivy! We don’t want any of our spooky guests getting itchy at the Trick or Treat on the Farm!

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Store Manager, Heather Gurk, is getting some candy together for Trick or Treat at the Farm!

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Nina Griffis, Strategic Solutions Team member, picks some of the season’s last peppers.

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It sure was a great year for peppers, look at these beauties!

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This rooster is getting a little defensive. Perhaps he suspects this photographer wants to steal one of his girlfriends?

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 While the weather might be getting colder, the Rodale Institute’s front yard garden is still flourishing. We just picked some lettuce and have more in store.

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Employees gather up for a delicious lunch made by our very own Education and Outreach Director, Maria Pop.

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Out in the hoop house we’ve got some more lettuce varieties growing.

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And not too far away are some bean plants!

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Here is a cabbage patch that looks amazing!

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  Don’t you just want to try some?

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That’s a lot of garlic! Just in time to keep all the vampires away this Halloween!

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Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, getting the dump truck ready to deliver a shipment of organic oats.

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Wow! That’s an oat-rageous amount of organic oats!

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Ross and Jeff Moyer, Farm Director, set up the auger-elevator which moves the oats up the chute and into the bed of the truck.

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And with one last push…….

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and one last pull…..

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the oats begin to flow!

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Elsewhere on the farm, Chief Scientist, Dr. Kris Nichols, teaches a course on soil biology. Here, lonely Mr. Microscope eagerly awaits to make eye contact.

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Tammy and her 13 new piglets share a special moment as they bond.

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 Ross checks in on mama and her piglets. They look to be doing just great! Check in with us next Farm Photo Friday for more snaps of the piglets as they start to explore!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

My Experience: A first year farmer works with pasture raised hogs

A guest blog post by Caroline Hampton, a first year farmer based in North Carolina

By the middle of October, it’s really starting to feel like Fall. I am excited for cooler weather and the end of the season, and my body is too. No matter how many hours of sleep I get each night or what time I go to bed, I find my body unwilling to rise in the morning. Fall crops are in the ground and growing well, and our hogs are growing larger and fattening up, preparing to be slaughtered in November.

My previous experience in farming has been focused on vegetable production, though I have done some dairy work with cows, and have used grazing beef cattle in a field rotation. I have lived with backyard chickens several times, but nothing really prepared me for mPasture Raised Hogsy experience of raising pigs this season. At the F.I.G. Farm, we decided to raise pigs together. Initially, we wanted to raise one pig to be the main course for a fall farm dinner, and when the opportunity to buy feeder pigs came up, the three other farmers at the F.I.G. Farm decided that they would like to each have their own pig to raise for sale and personal use. Because it was my first season as a farmer, I felt that the commitment of raising a pig would be too much work for me to take on. I declined to get my own pig. However, within a month of the pigs coming to the farm, I found myself serving as the primary caretaker for a herd of four pigs.

The experience of raising four pigs as a new farmer, unexperienced with livestock, has been entertaining, emotionally trying, and incredibly enriching. Fortunately the incubator farm where I am renting space has an ideal set up for raising pigs, including all of the equipment needed, like the push posts and polywire needed for the construction of our electric fence, a generator for our electric fence, troughs for eating and a waterer, and even a training pen for the piglets to initially go into.

When we first got our young 20 pound pigs, or shoats, they were very frightened of humans and always ran away when approached. I in turn was similarly shy and hesitant around them, unsure of how to approach, wishing not to frighten them with my eagerness. Over time they came to understand that a person carrying a bucket into their pen meant food had arrived and would clamber around and into their trough to scarf down the choicest bits first. Being able to physically interact with and handle the pigs with confidence and ease is important for bringing food into the pen or entering the pen to move equipment, move the pigs from pen to pen, and ultimately will be important for having the pigs cooperate when we load them onto a truck to take to the slaughterhouse.

Being able to handle the pigs meant spending time in the pen with them when they were eating when they first came, because their desperate zeal for food was all that could coax them into my vicinity. Now our pigs are nearing 200 pounds and recognize the sound of my truck. When I am walking out to the field to feed them, they will begin a raucous chorus of grunts and from one pig, high pitched squeals. They will often sound off even when I am not coming to feed them to express their displeasure. I worried for a long time that we weren’t feeding the pigs enough because of the way they continually begged for food, but like children, they know the sounds and behaviors that motivate their caretakers to hand over some chow.

Over the season I have had mentorship from our local livestock agent from Agricultural Extension in Watauga County, as well as from other farmers in the community. I have consulted with other farmers in person and on the phone, attended workshops, and had others come out to our property for advice about our space. I have learned a lot about what to feed pigs, how much to feed pigs, and how to effectively rotate them through pastures.

Our pigs are being raised in a large pasture that we have divided into six separate segments and we let them root and graze an area quite heavily before moving them into the next segment. The smartest thing to do after moving the pigs is to sow seeds of various forage crops in the previously used segment so that as the pigs continue to rotate, they will have a feast waiting for them. This season we did not manage to follow our rotation by sowing forage crops, but I will include this in my management plan next year. I plan to raise four pigs with a friend on his property next year, and these pigs will be raised for sale at the farmer’s market.

We feed our pigs twice a day, a diet of food scraps from the kitchens of local restaurants and grocery stores, as well as spent grain from a local brewery. Often we cannot get the spent grain and to ensure that our pigs are getting enough protein, we feed them a pelleted pig feed produced by a North Carolina company and sold at our local feed store. Pigs need a high protein (usually around 16%) feed daily, and the amount of food provided should weigh 3 – 5% of the pig’s body weight. Making sure our pigs have had enough food has certainly been the biggest struggle over the course of the season, and forced us to become more creative about food sources than we originally anticipated.

Our pigs are smart and entertaining and I find joy interacting with them. They are curious and playful animals, and approach anything new to their pen with interest, though principally they want to know whether they can eat it or not. In November, we will be sending some of our pigs to the slaughterhouse so that the other farmers can sell the meat. We ultimately decided not to have a farm dinner this fall, so the pig that we raised to be our group pig became mine for the hard work that I have put in with our herd this year.

Because I plan to use the meat personally and not sell it, I do not have to send my pig to the slaughterhouse, and I am very seriously considering killing my pig myself. Many of my mentors have been able to offer insights into and aid with personal slaughter of a pig, and in my mind it is the most honest and reverent way to end a pig’s life that you have had a personal relationship with. The quality of the meat will also be at its best, because transport to and time spent at the slaughterhouse cause stress on the pig, and their bodily cortisol levels rise, compromising some amount the quality of the flavor. I am looking forward to sharing about my personal experience of slaughter, and anticipating some truly wonderful pasture raised pork!

Radishes

Radish recipes from our Agriculture Supported Communities program.

Braised Radish
From Rachael Ray and the Food Network

2 bunches radishes, about 1 pound, trimmed of tops and roots
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Place radishes in a skillet with stock, butter bits, shallots, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover
the pan and bring to a boil. Uncover the pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook radishes 10 to 12
minutes and if the stock has not cooked away, remove radishes and cook down to 1/2 cup,
about 2 minutes. Then toss syrupy liquid with radishes and serve.

 

Did you try out one of these recipes? Leave a comment below on how
you liked it and whether or not you made adjustments!