Dig Deeper

Online Assistant: Farmer Tools

Rodale Institute is accepting applications for an Online Assistant to help with our farmer tools. Primary responsibilities include ensuring weekly updates are made to the Organic Price Report. This staff member may work remotely. Time commitment: 8 hours/ week. (more…)

Bloom Alert: April 1, 2014

This winter has been long and we are anxiously waiting for the early bloomers. Some of our tulips have finally broken the surface. This year we planted 10,000 organic bulbs—18 different varieties of tulips in all. Keep an eye on our (hopefully weekly) Bloom Alerts to see when these beauties will be ready to pick!

For more information on the who, what, when, and where of pick-your-own flowers at the farm, contact our Garden Store.

Rodale Institute is THE place for pick-your-own ORGANIC flowers! Our Bloom Alerts will keep in the loop so you know when to come out to the farm for fresh organic flowers. Check back to see what is bursting forth each week or sign up for our e-newsletter and we’ll let you know when they are ready to pick!

Transition to Organic: Weed Management

One of the biggest challenges farmers face while transitioning to organic cropping systems is weed management. Successfully managing weeds in organic systems requires a dramatic change in approach. Simply substituting organic herbicides for synthetic ones rarely works. Knowing your weeds and understanding their damaging potential is a key factor in developing a successful weed management program.

While many practices control or reduce annual weeds, difficult-to-manage weeds such as bindweed, Canada thistle and quackgrass produce extensive underground rhizomes, tubers and roots. Familiarity with each weed’s growth and reproductive habits as well as which weeds predominate during the cropping season are crucial in selecting the most effective management method. (more…)

Jumping in heart first

By Caroline Hampton

At the end of my first full season working on an organic vegetable farm, one of my employers asked the group of interns if we still wanted to be farmers someday. We all confirmed that we did. “You guys made my day,” he beamed, clearly pleased with our choice. “But just so you know, it would be easier to make your living any other way.” (more…)

Transition to Organic: Pest and disease management

Conventional agricultural systems increase food production per acre but can deplete natural resources and degrade crop and environmental health. By implementing organic farming as an alternative production system, growers may substitute cultural and biological inputs for synthetically-made chemicals and fertilizers that still provide effective pest and disease management.

Many insects—in fact, most insects—on agricultural land are actually beneficial. Beneficial insects prey on the pests whose favorite foods happen to be the cash crops. Different plants attract different insects, so encouraging a diversity of plant species beyond cash crops can shift the balance away from pest insects. Diversity encourages a healthy and resilient system. (more…)

Farm Photo Friday: March 21, 2014

Every Friday we share some snaps from our 333-acres in Kutztown, PA. Our photographers?  Well…

This week we have something special for you!  Usually, we have our staff provide the images for Farm Photo Friday, but today is different.

Marty Desilets, Lehigh Valley photographer and web guru, is our guest photographer for this week’s installment of Farm Photo Friday.  We think this is the beginning of something wonderful.

Thank you for the gorgeous images, Marty!

Enjoy Farm Photo Friday by guest photographer, Marty Desilets. (more…)

The Cooperative CSA

By John and Aimee Good

Farming for a CSA market is an exercise in diversity. CSA farmers must possess the skills to reliably 25 or more different vegetable crops and at least 100 different varieties each season. In addition to the challenges inherent in trying to raise so many different crops well, many CSA farmers also spend a great deal of time and energy raising livestock, fruit and even dairy items to expand their product availability.

As apprentices on vegetable farms in New England 12 years ago, we developed a holistic management plan for our future farm. This was the final exercise in our apprentice training program designed to prepare us for starting our own farm. When we look back at that plan now, we cannot help but laugh at our ambition. Our plan went something like this:

•  Grow five acres of organic produce for a 200 member CSA
•  Grow approximately one acre of fruit trees
•  Use pigs to turn our compost and as a source of pork for our CSA
•  Raise laying hens
•  Raise broiler chickens for our CSA
•  Raise turkeys and a few beef cattle every year for ourselves and our members

More than a decade later, we run a successful 200-member CSA. Otherwise, we have achieved none of those goals. (more…)

Meet and greet with our ASC farmer

Come out to the Allentown Health Bureau March 20th, meet Cynthia James and learn more about getting veggies through our ASC program… (more…)

Farm Photo Friday: March 14, 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! (more…)