Dig Deeper


RODALE INSTITUTE AWARDED TOP ANIMAL WELFARE CERTIFICATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Aaron Kinsman
Phone: 610.683.1427
Email:
akinsman@rodaleinstitute.org
Website: www.rodaleinstitute.org

 

RODALE INSTITUTE AWARDED TOP ANIMAL WELFARE CERTIFICATION

–Pioneering Organic Research Center earns AWA certification, highlighting the links between agriculture and sustainability–

 

KUTZTOWN, PA (November 25, 2014)—The pigs, laying hens, and dairy goats at Rodale Institute—one of the world’s leading non-profit research facilities dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach—are now Certified AWA. This certification confirms the animals at Rodale Institute are being raised in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards, demonstrating the organization’s commitment to the care of animals, land and the local community. AWA is widely acknowledged as the most credible and meaningful farm certification in North America, available to both organic and non-organic farms and ranches.

Rodale Institute is one of a handful of organizations in the world undertaking independent agricultural research. Through first-rate scientific research, the 333-acre working farm near Kutztown, PA, pioneers best practices of organic agriculture. In keeping with their work as a research farm, the Rodale Institute has set up a number of farm animal enterprises to examine how livestock and poultry systems can be managed organically and produce high-quality food for the market. With demonstrations involving different styles of livestock management systems, Rodale Institute shares its observations of animal health and behavior and trends in production using different breeds with farmers and scientists throughout the world. The Rodale Institute receives over 15,000 visitors every year.

‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood, Rodale Institute Executive Director, says

“When I first brought livestock onto the Rodale Institute farm just a few short years ago, the purpose was to create living, working models of the best practices in animal husbandry. We believe that the quality of life an animal experiences is reflected in the quality and taste of the products from that animal. Our animals work here. Our pigs till as they root, our chickens clean up after our pigs, our goats cut back the poison ivy, our oxen mow grass. We are not interested in simply meeting minimum standards of living space or daily hours in the sun, but encouraging these animals to thrive and to fulfill a meaningful purpose here on the farm. AWA understands our attitude because we have the same goals when it comes to animal welfare. We are more than proud to display their seal of approval.”

Andrew Gunther, AWA Program Director, says

“Rodale Institute has been pioneering sustainable farming methods for over 60 years, sharing their findings with farmers throughout the world to help them farm better. Despite claims from the industrial farming lobby that we need to further intensify livestock production systems, Rodale Institute’s comparative Farming Systems Trial—America’s longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture—shows that we can not only feed the world sustainably, but can also help to mitigate climate issues through non-industrial farming practices.”

“We are extremely proud of our growing reputation among farmers and the wider food industry as a pragmatic farming-based organization that is driven by practical science and whose farm standards are grounded in the everyday reality of farm life. It’s a testimony to AWA’s standing that an organization as widely-respected as Rodale Institute saw AWA as a natural partner to validate their livestock farming enterprises.”

ABOUT RODALE INSTITUTE

Since its founding in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute has been committed to groundbreaking research in organic agriculture, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating people about how organic is the safest, healthiest option for people and the planet. The Institute is home to the Farming Systems Trial (FST), America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. Consistent results from the study have shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30 percent higher. New areas of study at the Rodale Institute include rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots, new techniques for weed suppression and organic livestock. For more information visit www.rodaleinstitute.org

ABOUT ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a “badge of honor for farmers” and the “gold standard,” AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. All AWA standards, policies and procedures are available on the AWA website, making it the most transparent certification available.

AWA’s Online Directory of AWA farms, restaurants and products enables the public to search for AWA farms, restaurants and products by zip code, keywords, products and type of establishment. AWA has also launched AWA Food Labels Exposed, a free smartphone app guide to commonly used food claims and terms, available to download from the App Store or Google Play. A printable version is also available for download at www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org.

Farm Photo Friday: November 21, 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!

IMG_4437

Michael Schmaeling from the Strategic Solutions Team is continuing his work on one of our new greenhouses. As you can tell he’s made some great progress since last Friday!

IMG_4439

Michael is carefully laying gravel down around the base of the greenhouse for drainage purposes. Water removal is a very important aspect of greenhouse construction.

IMG_1862

Surprise! We have two more adorable baby goats. The cuteness never ends!

IMG_5724

Not too long ago, Alfalfa was just as small as our new babies, but as you can see he’s already started to grow his beard. By the look on his face he definitely enjoyed his photo shoot!

IMG_5754

Awww, that looks like some quality father son bonding. Zorro is so proud of his son! Can you tell where all the babies get their good looks from?

IMG_5874

Our piglets are also all doing great, they are growing up so fast!

IMG_1861

Farming never stops at the Rodale Institute! Here is some freshly planted organic garlic. It’s important to wait until after the first frost to plant your garlic.

IMG_4414

Garlic isn’t the only vegetable flourishing on the farm. Even in the cold weather our big dome greenhouse shelters a variety of organic leafy lettuces. Yummy!

IMG_4423

Nina Griffis, Strategic Solutions Team Member, carefully separates each plant.

IMG_4410

After separation it’s time to plant!

IMG_4424

Whoa! Look at that beautiful parsley! In our smaller dome greenhouse we have heavenly herbs growing all year long.

IMG_4432

Close by, there are beautiful flowers drying out in the shed in preparation for the Rodale Institute’s Holiday Wreath Making Workshop! How exciting! Are you getting into the holiday sprit yet?

IMG_4429

Creating holiday wreaths is an excellent way to use up materials from your backyard and garden. Not to mention they look great in your home or even as a gift!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Old Traits, New Trends

Lauren Cichocki, Animal Husbandry Specialist, with one of Rodale Institute's organic hogs.

Lauren Cickhocki, Animal Husbandry Specialist, with one of Rodale Institute’s organic hogs.

By Lauren Cichocki, Rodale Institute Animal Husbandry Specialist

Rodale Institute, the oldest organic farm in the country, is using new trends to bring back old breed popularity. The 2014 Culinary Forecast produced by the National Restaurant Association placed locally sourced meat and seafood as the number one trend in the food industry. Free range pork also made the list at number 61. Educating chefs, farmers, educators, and restaurant owners on the values of heritage breeds can aid in the regrowth of critical and threatened breeds. There is no better time or place to push these values than now, and Rodale Institute’s strong relationship with the public through research, education, and outreach can help to shed some light on the importance of saving heritage breeds.

Although the organic livestock program is only in its infancy at the Rodale Institute, we are already in the process of publishing our first research project featuring our Large Black X Tamworth hogs. This six week long observational study, expected to be published in January 2015, resulted in a better understanding of pastured pig behavior as well as an analysis of parasite loads in organic pastured swine. I spent an hour each day watching the twenty-six grower finishers as they approached their finishing weights. The communication abilities and routines of the young pigs can be perfectly expressed at Rodale Institute, as they have unlimited resources and a large area of land to roam. Without any suppression of natural behaviors, the breeds are able to thrive. Hopefully the publishing of this observational study will encourage other farmers to not only raise heritage breeds, but raise them in a way that utilizes the animal’s instincts in order to create a better product.

My past experiences with swine have primarily included commercial breeds raised in commercial settings. This commercial process resulted in an average product that inspired few and disappointed many. After visiting Rodale Institute, I knew that pork could make a comeback in the foodie world; it was just a matter of reeducating the misguided members of the agricultural community. Rodale Institute, as a leader in research and education, has already begun to influence the way chefs and farmers view pork. During our first pastured pork seminar, about twenty people from five different states listened as we explained the benefits of raising heritage pork on pasture. Additionally, we have supplied our pork to three local restaurants and fed it to thousands of attendees at Rodale Institute events. The feedback has been extremely positive and has even inspired one of the chefs to volunteer with the animals on the farm. The best education we can provide is a taste of the passion with which we raise and care for our product.

Along with providing classes and delightful tasting opportunities, we hope to expand our resources to the public through outreach. Our new building will provide a scalable model for other farmers to begin a pastured pork project similar to our own. The building will allow us to closely monitor the excellent foraging qualities of our heritage breed hogs, reduce grain intake, and teach farmers how to greatly reduce costs associated with high feed prices. This will come through pasture and parasite management and will allow more farmers to raise heritage pork in a profitable manner. It will encourage more farmers to put pigs on pasture, thereby reducing the stress associated with confinement.

Ultimately, we chose heritage breeds because commercial pork is at a dead end. You cannot inspire chefs and pork lovers with commercial hogs raised in total confinement and experiencing daily stress. Foraging, marbling, head to tail, local, organic, research, inspiration, passion, and community encompass all that Rodale Institute hopes to accomplish with our livestock. Heritage breeds are the only way, in our opinion, to reach our goals of animal agriculture reform.

Transition to Organic: Waste Management

Managing agricultural wastes such as manure, spent silage, culled fruits and vegetables, and other organic residuals can be a significant burden to farming and greenhouse operations. As agricultural wastes increase on-site, so do the potentials for plant and animal pathogens to persist and become a serious problem to production.

Improperly managed piles can also become noxious and pose serious threats to soil and water quality. As a result, governmental agencies require specific and often complex storage, handling and disposal procedures for various waste materials. Handling procedures become even more rigid for organic production systems. However, if the material is managed successfully, then what was once a problematic waste product becomes a valuable agricultural resource. (more…)

Field Equipment Specialist Needed

Rodale Institute is seeking a Field/Equipment Specialist to fulfill the primary task completing orchard/field related responsibilities which includes the certified organic orchard and routine management of all farm equipment.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

♦  Work in a team environment to conduct day-to-day field operations in relationship to apple production in research and production areas: Field responsibilities include but are not limited to; spraying, orchard floor management and harvesting.
♦  Work in a team environment to support day-to-day field operations in relationship to horticultural and agronomic crop production in research and production areas: Field responsibilities include but are not limited to; tillage, weed management, planting, and harvesting.
♦  Document field operations on Institute forms to satisfy organic certification requirements, research data collection needs, and Institute financial accounting.
♦  Manage the equipment maintenance to perform routine maintenance on equipment necessary to support all farm functions.
♦  Conduct field and farm inspection for needed tasks and consult with farm director on weekly priorities.
♦  Work with all other teams; compost, landscaping, livestock, ASC, , greenhouse, and research as time allows supporting their goals and objectives.
♦  Other duties may/will be assigned on a case by case and as-needed basis.

QUALIFICATIONS: Must be able and willing to work in all types of weather, be able to lift in excess of 50 pounds, have good communications skills – (both written and verbal), and be flexible in hours as farm work can be unpredictable

EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE: Must have a bachelor’s degree and/or 5 years of experience in organic horticultural or agronomic crop production and agricultural equipment repair and maintenance. Should have a working knowledge of metal welding and general mechanical skills.

TRAVEL: Minimal travel required.

Interested applicants may submit a cover letter and resume to linda.carlson@rodaleinstitute.org

Farm Photo Friday: November 7, 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!

IMG_4339

Our team at the Rodale Institute does not slow down once the colder weather approaches! Michael Schmaeling from the Strategic Solutions Team is starting the frame work for one of our new greenhouses. Greenhouses are sealed against winter weather to encourage year-round growing.

IMG_4348

Measurements are key! Greenhouses generally range from 14 to 34 feet wide and 10 to 15 feet tall.

IMG_4386

Looks like step one is finished, great job Michael!

IMG_4353

Bill Lenhard from Facilities is getting rid of some loose tree branches for safety purposes. We have a lot of guests here at the Rodale Institute and making it safe for visitors is always a priority.

IMG_4361

Say hello to our new baby goats, Buckwheat and Barley! They were born this past Sunday, November 2nd. Happy Belated Birthday boys!

IMG_4362

This is some serious cuteness overload!

IMG_4364

Not to worry, Mama Rosy is close by keeping watch.

IMG_4365

It looks like the rest of the gang wants to see what I’m up to! Don’t worry guys, I’ll be out of here soon.

IMG_4366

Buckwheat is already a professional photo bomber! Even with his tongue sticking out at me he’s absolutely adorable.

IMG_4369

Wow! Look at that beautiful color pattern! Barley is definitely ready for a nap after his tiring photo shoot. Sweet dreams Barley!

IMG_4383

Mr. Tuggs, our resident donkey, does not seem impressed by the new baby goats. He still thinks he’s the cutest man on the farm.

IMG_4390

Elsewhere on the farm, Dr. Hue Karreman, Staff Veterinarian, teaches a class on Dairy Cows.

IMG_4393

This informative course helps farmers become close observers of their animals and develop disease prevention and health-promoting strategies. Nobody wants sour milk!

IMG_4401

Here are some freshly dug up Gladiola bulbs that will be dried out and planted again in the spring!

IMG_4399

As you can see in the picture above, a few days later they look very different dried out! Drying the bulbs correctly before you store them means they do not rot and are less prone to disease over the storage period. Did you dry out any of your bulbs yet?

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Facilities Support Staff Needed

Rodale Institute is currently seeking a Facilities Support Staff member to join our team! The individual who fills this position will provide support to the Facilities Team as well as act as a service provider to all departments throughout the Institute. The Facilities Support Staff member reports directly to the Facilities Director.

HOURS: noon-7:00pm (35-40 hours/week)

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

o Empty trash, recycling and compost bins as needed.
o Dust furniture/window sills and other visible surface areas in all offices and buildings including guest houses and Garden Store.
o Vacuum wall to wall carpets, area carpets and floor surfaces weekly in all buildings.
o Maintain janitorial supply inventory.
o Clean and sanitize bathrooms in all buildings as well as the WPEC at the Garden Store.
o Keep all building bathroom facilities stocked with paper towels, toilet paper and hand soap including public restrooms and WPEC.
o Clean the barn and pavilions as requested for events and weddings.
o Report any maintenance issues or janitorial supply needs to Facilities Director.
o Assist in set up and tear down for weddings.
o Lock and unlock assigned buildings: secure building when facilities are not in use checking for unlocked doors and windows, and turn off lights.
o Follow the Rodale Institute guidelines with use of cleaning supplies used.
o Attend staff meetings when necessary.
o Safely operate all vehicles and other job related equipment.
o Be a service provider to landscape, farm animals, custom events, SST teams and staff as needed and directed. This could include but not limited to lawn mowing, set up for events and weddings, painting, animal chores, and pick up supplies at various vendors
o Other duties and tasks as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS:

o Interpersonal skills
o Attention to detail
o Ability to closely follow directions
o Ability to lift up to 50 lbs.
o Ability to stand for longer periods of time

EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE:

o At least one year of experience.

TRAVEL

o As needed

OTHER RODALE INSTITUTE EXPECTATIONS:

o To be trustful and respectful to all staff and visitors.

Interested applicants may submit a cover letter and resume to linda.carlson@rodaleinstitute.org

The Sweet Side of Organic Farming

In appreciation of their support, we invite Rodale Institute Business Members to share an article about their work on our website. These articles often include insightful information based on their experience and line of work.  It provides a unique perspective of organic agriculture that we enjoy sharing with our readers. 

By Nigel Willerton, CEO, Wholesome Sweeteners

Indonesian coconut tree

Indonesian coconut tree

At Wholesome Sweeteners, we believe that a healthy planet allows for healthy and happy people. So from the very beginning, organic, sustainable farming has been at the heart of our philosophy. We proudly partner with farmers who help us create this ideal by producing our sugars in a safe and ethical way without sacrificing superior quality or harming the land. Our customers can be confident in the great taste and great care we’ve taken to bring them the best sweeteners.

Our Organic Sugar comes from sugar cane grown in Paraguay and milled at Azucarera Paraguaya. These farmers provide an excellent model for organic, sustainable farming; every step of their process fosters a high quality product with very low environmental impact. The sugar cane is “green cut” or hand-harvested, and the tops of the sugar cane are left in the field to enrich the soil and control weeds. The cane is never burned or sprayed, a damaging practice to the cane and the field and lethal to the local wildlife trapped in the fields. After harvesting, the cane is transported to the mill where it’s crushed to extract the sweet juices. The crushed stalks, called bagasse, are used to fuel the mill’s boilers, providing enough electricity for the mills and neighboring villages so that fossil fuel is unnecessary. In fact, the mill creates so much energy from the bagasse that they are able to sell some of the electricity back to the state.

Indonesian farmers with Coconut Palm Sugar

Indonesian farmers with Coconut Palm Sugar

In Java, Indonesia, Wholesome Sweeteners partners with family farmers that create Organic Coconut Palm Sugar. Palm trees have been rich, food sources in Indonesia for more than 4,000 years. Farmers tap the sweet nectar from the coconut palm tree flower and turn it into Organic Coconut Palm Sugar. The trees grow wild on their property, so there is no need to use harmful, chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Every day the farmers climb the palm trees to tap the coconut palm flower at the top. Once they collect enough nectar, they heat it in large kettles where it’s stirred by hand until it cools and crystallizes, leaving behind a rich brown sugar. The farmers enjoy a reliable living from these trees: the nectar is produced year round for up to 25-40 years; the coconut fruit is used for its meat and water; and the fibrous husks are used for twine or weaving material. Most importantly, the extraction process leaves the local environment intact since the trees are never cut down destroying the farmers’ forested properties.

Wholesome Sweeteners’ organic farming practices stretch across our liquid sweeteners as well. Our Organic Blue Agave is grown in Jalisco, Mexico. The

Agave plants in Mexico

Agave plants in Mexico

leaves of the large plants are hand-cut by the farmers with a large blade, a “coa,” and left behind to protect the soil. The remaining core of the plant or the “piña” houses the blue agave nectar. The piña is crushed to extract the juices, which are then gently heated and filtered yielding a sweet amber agave syrup.

Our Organic Honey comes from hives located deep within the secluded jungles of Brazil and Mexico, where beekeeping protects native plants and encourages biodiversity. The beekeepers maintain an organic environment for the honeybees by never using antibiotics or other toxins on the hives. The hives have been placed among a variety of organic flora for miles and miles, knowing that bees will only travel up to 4 miles from their hives for food. Since the bees are feasting on a variety of wildflowers that change with the season, the honey’s flavor characteristics constantly evolve, deepening in color and flavor. The honey is minimally filtered allowing it to retain its inherent pollens and enzymes. In Brazil the beekeepers recycle the wax honeycombs once a bee colony has left for a new home.

Our efforts to produce safe and flavorful sweeteners would be nearly impossible without the time and dedication that the farmers give to their crops. That is why Wholesome Sweeteners is a proud supporter and advocate for Fairtrade programs. We believe in paying farmers a fair price for their crops and are encouraged to see how the added premiums are improving their lives. Nearly all of our organic granulated sugars are Fairtrade Certified as well as our Organic Blue Agave and Organic Honey. Wholesome Sweeteners has paid more than $9 million in Fairtrade premiums to villages in Paraguay, Mexico, Brazil and Malawi. This money has helped cultivate vital needs for those communities like electricity, healthcare, schools, clean water supplies and new farming equipment.

As more and more consumers demand safe and healthy food options, Wholesome Sweeteners continues to champion organic, sustainable farming whenever possible. This method of farming serves as a great reminder of the bountiful capabilities inherent in Mother Nature and how the right kind of human intervention can be the best formula for yielding a safe and delicious harvest.

Nigel Willerton, CEO, Wholesome Sweeteners
Since establishing Wholesome Sweeteners in 2001, Nigel has helped grow the Texas-based sweetener company into the U.S.’s largest Fairtrade Certified, USDA Organic and Non-GMO Verified supplier of sugars, syrups, stevia and honey. Because of its strong focus on social responsibility, Wholesome Sweeteners has paid more than $9 million in Fairtrade premiums to impoverished farming communities around the world. For more information on Wholesome Sweeteners’ commitment to organic, sustainable farming or to learn about its Fairtrade practices, visit WholesomeSweeteners.com.

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!

IMG_4545

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.

IMG_4557

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.

IMG_4561

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

IMG_4563

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

IMG_4566

Who knew soil sieving could be so much fun?!

IMG_4576

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

IMG_4588

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.

IMG_4586

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

IMG_4595

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

IMG_4636

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.

IMG_4672

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

IMG_4685

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

IMG_4687

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

IMG_4702

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

IMG_4704

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

IMG_4694

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…)