Rodale Institute Chief Scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham answers your questions and talks about what is going on under our feet nationwide.
Charlie W. asks:
My friend did some research on paper and cardboard, and found that these products often contain dioxins, GMO soy ink and other toxic elements. I am wondering if the composting process takes care of all these toxic elements or if you now recommend only using leaves, organic manure and saw dust for making compost. (more…)
What to do with marginal land on a farm is a question organic and sustainable growers are almost forced to address when creating their farm plans. Letting marginal land revert to native and wild areas can increase biodiversity by leaps and bounds, but this also means zero income from those areas—a hard decision to make for transitioning farmers especially. And agroforestry, a fairly well-known if not much practiced form of intensive land use, is rarely used in marginal areas in the U.S. The more common agroforestry techniques involve incorporating crops or livestock into existing woodland areas or incorporating trees into crop land. (more…)
If you’re taking the first steps to getting your farm on the web, there are a few basic questions you need to keep in mind. The good news is, creating an online presence doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive even if you hire a web designer. The key is finding someone who understands your goals and who can provide you with good answers to your questions.
1. What are my goals for the website? As you’re thinking about creating a website, it’s helpful to define your goals. Your website is your online storefront and presence. It’s important that it represents you in a professional manner. Beyond that, what else does the website need to accomplish? For one thing, your website needs to quickly tell visitors what you do and what you offer. You want visitors to arrive at your site, read a few lines, and think, “Ah, I’m in the right place.” It’s also helpful to answer questions your visitors might have. Put yourself in their position and think about what’s most helpful to them. (more…)
(Bethlehem, PA, March 29, 2013) – Rodale Institute and Lehigh University are partnering to bring organic education to Bethlehem. Founded in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute is recognized as the birthplace of the organic movement in America. Drawing on this strong history and tradition, Rodale Institute has been a longtime leader in the field of organic farming and is considered by many to be a go-to resource to learn about the latest research and technology in regards to organic production methods. (more…)
With chickens grazing by his feet, Eric Henry, president of TS Designs, lifts a branch of organic cotton just plucked from the backyard garden of his T-shirt printing business. As if picked from the sky, the puffs of white cotton resemble tiny cumulus clouds hanging from winter branches.
Since the mid-1990s, Henry has helped grow TS Designs, based in Burlington, North Carolina, by turning a highly toxic T-shirt production into a cleaner, safer operation with a conscious and sustainable business model. Part of that has been transforming a traditional Carolina crop into more than just a commodity. (more…)
Just as the statement “milk is milk” is patently not true, so is the idea that all compost is created equal. Dictionaries and encyclopedias simply define compost as “rotted organic matter made from decomposed plant material.” And while piling plant material in a heap and waiting long enough might result in rotted organic matter, it would still be a far cry from the truly fertile whole-food nutrition on which plants will thrive. Whether gardeners and farmers make compost themselves or get it from an outside source, there is a wide range of practices that can lead to the final compost product. What matters in the end, though, is whether it will help your plants flourish—or might it actually hinder the growth of your garden? (more…)
By Andrew Dohner, Rodale Institute Livestock Specialist
It is important that you know exactly what preparations need to be taken into consideration when jumping into small scale pastured poultry. As you work out your livestock plan and, later, when your chicks arrive, keep the following basic water/food/shelter needs in the forefront. Keeping the chicks’ basic needs met is the best way to provide a strong foundation on which they can grow. (more…)
Green rolls of open hills dotted with lines of solid, red silos and white grazing sheep appeal to and please even those who aren’t passionate about farming themselves. In reality though, development is encroaching heavily and swiftly across the U.S., luring land owners with large bundles of cash. One effective way to prevent this development is by placing land in an agricultural or conservation easement. This voluntary agreement allows a landowner to limit the type or amount of development on their property while retaining private ownership. Furthermore, it ensures open space and possibly agricultural production forever. In general, farmers and conservation groups determine unique features about a particular parcel of land such as places that are suitable for buildings based on the size and configuration of the land, or places that should never be cultivated, such as areas close to a waterway. Decisions depend not only on the current farm plan, but also on potential farming plans of future generations. (more…)
Rodale Institute Farm Director Jeff Moyer talks about what is happening in our fields and yours.
I am passionate about growing organic produce and I decided to grow oats for my family, animals and maybe extra for friends or bartering at farmers’ markets. I am new bloomer—never farmed before. With all the information about prepping the garden and controversy over tilling versus no-tilling, what do you recommend? What kind of oats do you recommend? Also, how do you spread the seed? Do you plant oats in long rows or cluster plots? I live in southeastern Indiana and I really appreciate any information you can offer. Spring is just around the corner and I need to make some decisions. (more…)
It’s 2013 and we have a million ways to connect with a million people. But the question is: How will you connect with the right people to the benefit of your small farm? As farmers, our social media priorities are to 1. connect with your existing customers (and help them market you to their networks), 2. connect with potential customers in your area, and 3. educate the wider universe of consumers. (more…)