Dig Deeper


 Turnip recipes from our Agriculture Supported Communities program.

Mashed Root Vegetables with Horseradish
Adapted from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 ½ pounds potatoes
¼ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh horseradish or drained bottled horseradish

Cook turnips in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 –inch pieces.

Add potatoes to pot and boil until all vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes more.

Meanwhile, heat cream, butter, and horseradish (to taste) in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture is hot. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Drain vegetables, return to pot, and heat over high heat, shaking pot, until any excessliquid has evaporated, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and our cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into vegetables; press hard on solids for more horseradish flavor if desired. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mash vegetables with a potato masher until smooth, with some small pieces remaining. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Serves 4


To Braise and Glaze Turnips
Adapted from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl

Peel the turnips and cut into 8 wedges each. (If using smaller turnips, cut them into quarters.) Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan, add the turnips, 1 cup chicken broth or water, 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the turnips are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the turnips to a bowl with a slotted spoon and boil the cooking liquid until reduced to a glaze, about 3 to 4 tablespoons. Return the turnips to the pan and simmer until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh parsley, then serve.

Walk for An Organic Planet

Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported our Walk for an Organic Planet.  Coach made it to DC on October 16th and attended meetings with staff from Senator Jeff Merkley’s office and the following individuals from USDA:

♦  Betsy Rakola, USDA Organic Policy Advisor
♦  Bill Hohenstein, USDA Climate Change Programs
♦  Rich Iovanna, Farm Service Agency Conservation Programs
♦  Lindsay Haines, NRCS Organic and Soil Health Initiatives
♦  Steven Mirsky, Agricultural Research Service
♦  Mat Ngouajio, NIFA Organic Program Directors’ Research Proceedings

We look forward to continuing to share information about our research on regenerative organic agriculture and climate change.

And, stay tuned… Coach is already planning next year’s Walk!

The Rodale Institute has proven that regenerative organic agriculture can reverse climate change. Regenerative organic agriculture can actually capture even more carbon than we currently emit into the atmosphere. By working with nature to use photosynthesis and healthy soil biology, we can draw down greenhouse gases and tip the needle past 100% to reverse climate change.

Beginning October 1st, Coach is walking 162 miles – from the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA to Washington, D.C. to hand deliver our report to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.


To bring much-needed awareness to both the general public and lawmakers that organic agriculture is the answer to reversing climate change.

How can you help?

Donate $1 per mile. Total: $162.
♦ Virtually join us on the walk by following Rodale Institute on facebook, twitter and Instagram.
♦ Help us share our vision for an organic planet. Click here for a document of fully crafted updates for all of your social networks.

Click here to watch a very short video and donate.

Help us support the new research our paper calls for. Lend us your voice and spread this vision for an organic planet. There is hope. We can reverse climate chaos through regenerative organic farming. And the time to do it is now.

Click here to read news about the walk


Farm Photo Friday: September 26th, 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!

Special thanks to this week’s guest contributor, Bill Noll, photographer extraordinaire and master of helpful stuff. He came to our Organic Apple Festival on Saturday and took these amazing shots. Thank you Bill!!




















Don’t forget… Show your organic love!


Farm Photo Friday: September 19, 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!  Special thanks to our intern, Julie Kelly for the wonderful photo contributions.  Great job Julie!


Organic Apple Festival is almost here!!!  Here is some of the team culling apples for delicious organic apple cider.


Aren’t you impressed with our pumpkin parking lot?  When you get here tomorrow and park your car, you purchase your pumpkins promptly and put them into your parked vehicle.  You’re now prepared to peruse the balance of the Festival’s offerings!


Pumpkin parking lots don’t prepare themselves!  The team has been working hard to make sure your Organic Apple Festival experience is top notch!


It’s plain to see they take pleasure in their work.


Moving on to the main event, our 1,100 organic apple trees are ready for all those apple lovers who will come from far and wide tomorrow…  Our baskets and pickers are ready too!


One more mow in preparation for the thousands of feet walking through the orchard tomorrow!


Aren’t these Macintosh cultivars magnificent?  Eat them fresh, bake with them, make apple sauce, apple butter, or our personal favorite…


Organic Apple Cider!  Enjoy all this and a whole lot more at tomorrow’s Organic Apple Festival, here at the Rodale Institute farm in Kutztown, PA.

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Farm Photo Friday: September 12, 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!


It’s a very special time of year here at the Institute!  Such deep reds and pinks, it’s almost as if the plants are trying talk to us!  Plumose Celosia also come in yellow, orange, and pink.


Julie Kelly, one of our summer interns, working at the store folding shirts, getting ready for a big weekend of sales, and then the Organic Apple Festival on Saturday the 20th!!!


You may have heard by now that Coach is walking to Washington, D.C.


From Rodale Institute’s farm in Kutztown, it’s 162 miles.  He leaves October 1st.  He’s in training now!


Why?  We’re raising money to help farmers transition to regenerative organic practices so they can reverse climate change.


Zinnia are easy to grow and if you ‘dead head’ them they continue to bloom!  That does not mean you should play them ‘Scarlet Begonia’ on repeat…


We relocated a few pigs this week so they could root through some corn stubble in another area of the farm.


It looks like they’ve come what they came to do here.  Ready to move on to new pastures.


Do any of us ever really knows what the future holds?  Yet we must keep looking ahead.


Lauren Cichocki starts the process of winding up the fence so it can be moved to the new hog spot.


Ross Duffield has prepared the trailer and the hogs are all ready to get going.


Isis always falls asleep in the car, no matter how short the ride.


Success!  It’s not always this easy to move pigs.  If you don’t believe us, check out some of the older editions of Farm Photo Friday!


Switchback Pizza was here this week making delicious pizzas.  The pizzas are nice and hot, fresh out of their brick oven, but their crew is just too cool!  We hope to see you all again soon!


We harvested our beautiful sunflowers this week.  Next year we will plant a bit later so they are in full bloom for the Organic Apple Festival!


So here is what we do.  We cut a hole through the stub, put some string through.  It’s an automatic bird-feeder!  We be selling them at Organic Apple Festival – so don’t miss it!!!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Fiddlehead Farms – How to build a root washer

1344364020_a892b33f5e07Fiddlehead Farms is a small, family farm located in beautiful Corbett, Oregon.Since becoming certified organic, Fiddlehead Farm has seen a huge demand for their certified organic vegetables – in particular carrots and beets.  They now find themselves on the precipice of being able to transform their small farm into a financially profitable business.

To meet the local demand for their organic vegetables, they often process hundreds of pounds of root vegetables a week, a labor intensive process.  The Rodale Institute Your 2 Cent grant program helped Fiddlehead Farm purchase a barrel style root washer.  This wooden cylinder cleans crops by jostling them as they are sprayed with powerful jets of water. This equipment will help them realize the full potential of their family farm, allowing them to focus on expanding their operation and getting products to new markets.

Watch this video and learn how they built their root washer!

Farm Photo Friday: September 5, 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!


Michael Schmaeling from the Strategic Solutions Team has been taking great care of the bees in our Honeybee Conservancy.  Here he shows a guest how to make sure the bees have fresh water.


Our hives are based on a unique design.  Thomas Hybrid Hives are a combination of the Langstroth and top bar beehive styles.  The vertical piece is the Langstroth, which is convenient for beekeepers.  The lateral piece is the top bar, which allows the bees to draw their own comb much closer to the way they do in nature.


Michael has brought enough water along for all the hives as he makes his way around the farm.  Besides needing water for drinking, bees also need water to help cool the hive.


This particular hive is purposefully located outside of our main Honeybee Conservancy to promote pollination near the hive.


Look at them go! These bees are a bit more testy than our other colonies. In fact, this photographer got a bit too close without a veil and received two stings on the left temple resulting in a puffy face for a few days. It was worth it.


We were very fortunate to have a visit from our dear friend Tom Newmark of The Carbon Underground.  Tom runs a sister Farming Systems Trial in Costa Rica at the Finca Luna Nueva farm and has been instrumental in our work to reverse climate change.  Indeed, Agriculture is Imperative.
(Left to Right:  Dr. Kristine Nichols, Chief Scientist, Rodale Institute; Tom Newmark, The Carbon Underground; ‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood, Executive Director, Rodale Institute)


In other news, we’re thrilled to announce our very first chicks born on the farm!  Enjoy a few snaps of our do-it-yourself day-olds.


We select heritage breeds for all of our livestock on the farm.  These breeds have been declining in numbers as farming has become more industrialized because they do not fare well in confinement.  Keeping heritage breeds supports biodiversity on the farm.  Free range, pastured poultry live a very happy life here.


Heritage breeds are often associated with superior mothering behaviors.  Here we have Mama keeping an eye on her peeps!


These cute little chicks are still very new, so they tend to stick close to Mama.  Mama lets the other adult chickens know that these are her babies.


She also made sure to let this photographer know who is at the top of the pecking order.  Watch out, this chicken is about to charge!


Sam Moll, Plant Production Specialist, shows off some freshly harvested red potatoes!  What a beautiful sight!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Farm Photo Friday: August 29, 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 month, our entire staff gets together to share a fantastic meal.  Here we have Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, grilling some pork loin variations.  On the left we have a dry rub created Tim Herbein, who has done our pig roasts at the Organic Apple Festival in recent years.  Thanks Tim!


This loin is stuffed with mushrooms, herbs, celery, onions, provolone cheese and bacon, then accented with sage leaves.


Inside the kitchen, our Executive Director, ‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood, gets to taste test the pork before the lunch.  He’s our one-man Quality Assurance team!


As staff start to bring some of their potluck dishes, we are seeing the bounty of their home gardens in action.  Veggies galore, and everything looks super tasty.


Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist, really loves potatoes.  Like, he really loves them.


This love affair is getting steamy.  Back away Rick!  They are for everyone.


Corn on the cob is one of those dishes that can really make a summer meal.  When was the last time you had organic sweet corn?


The stuffed loin is ready!  Ross looks like he is unwrapping a birthday present, but he already knows what is inside.   Coach knows what’s inside too, and he stands ready to fulfill his role as the one-man Quality Assurance team!


The time everyone has been waiting for all morning has finally arrived!  They’ve now lined up  for an organic farm feast.


But don’t start eating yet!  Maria Pop, Education and Outreach Manager, is pulling anther surprise from the oven.


Wow!  These organic apples wrapped in bacon were a tremendous hit with the crowd!


Linda Carlson, Accountant / HR Assistant, and Dr. Hue Karreman,  Veterinarian, dig in and enjoy the bounty!


Like all good things, this lunch has come to an end.  And when any meal ends, you know what is next…  Clean up time!  It’s always a contest here at Rodale Institute to see who can send the least to landfill, and who can compost the most.

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Ask the Scientist: Compost tumblers

Rodale Institute Compost Production Specialist Rick Carr talks about what is happening in our fields and yours.

Tim asks:

I have always wondered about the ComposTumbler’s claim that it produces finished compost in 14 days.  I have exchanged some emails with them and am still skeptical.  What is anyone’s experience at Rodale Institute with the ComposTumbler?  Thank you for your help. (more…)

Telling the Story of Specialty Fruits

Feasting on fruit pies200In Small Fruits Extraordinaire, we learned about Erin Schneider and Rob McClure, who own Hilltop Community Farm in LaValle, Wisconsin. Their small-scale farm markets produce through a CSA and artisanal restaurants. In 2011, the couple along with two other farmers received a SARE grant to research direct marketing of non-traditional fruits: hardy kiwi, currants, honeyberry, aronia, American elderberry, Russian quince, saskatoons, and seaberry. In collaboration with other Wisconsin farmers, they showed that hardy kiwi, currants, Russian quince, and saskatoons grow well in Wisconsin and have good market potential, while aronia, American elderberry and seaberry would be better for processing. Now we’ll focus on their market research and customer education efforts to learn more about the commercial potential of these crops.

Marketing Research HighlightsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The project was initiated because of a demand for more fruit, but lack of information about specialty berries. Hilltop’s customers had expressed a desire to see more fruit in their CSA boxes. At the same time, Rob and Erin had a need to grow and raise more sustainable fruit choices, which would be resistant to insect pressure and able to withstand typical Wisconsin winters. Last winter, the young fruit and berry orchard got a true test with an extremely long cold winter; all the fruit crops had an excellent survival rate.

Marketing these unusual fruits required more complicated messaging which they chose to address through a combination of focus groups, tastings, celebratory events, and classes. This approach was quite effective in raising customer awareness and building a market.

A marketing survey, completed by 65 participants, generated quite a bit of useful information. One of the key insights from the survey was that involving people through education and allowing them to sample the product will increase their interest and allow farmers to charge more for their product.

“People are willing to pay more if you engage them through a tasting and tell your story,” said Erin Schneider.

For example, before any marketing efforts had been made, survey participants stated that they would be willing to pay $4-6 per product. After the tasting and education efforts, participants were willing to pay $7-9 per product.

Survey participants also indicated that they were more interested in the concepts of local agriculture and supporting family farms than they were in purchasing organic products, though this was also a consideration.
Sampling Marilyn's currant chutneys300Educational/Marketing efforts

As part of the grant, Erin and Rob conducted many different outreach events to increase awareness and garner feedback for the new berry crops. Here’s a sampler of the kinds of

activities they engaged in. Marketing new crops requires a substantial investment of time and energy. Since 2011, they have engaged over 600 farm friends, fellow farmers, CSA members, and others in everything from planting the orchard to providing input.

Focused discussions and tastings
These consisted of a number of different activities, mostly consumers such as CSA members and farmer’s market customers. Topics of discussion included brainstorming on ways to use fruits and feedback on price points.

Erin and her partners from the grant program taught several classes to different groups, including a workshop at the Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference (2012), the Women Food and Agriculture Conference (2013), as well as a poster presentation at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference (2014).

Farm events
Erin and Rob hosted “Currant Events: Growing Fruit, Building Community” during July of 2012, 2013, and 2014. Fruit and product tastings and cooking demonstrations were the focal point, with orchard tours, music, and social time rounding out the mix of activities. The event was featured in an episode of “Around the Farm Table” on Wisconsin public television.

Linking with other farmers
A number of other farmers provided assistance with events, such as Ian Aley of Living Earth Community Farm. Around 30% of program participants were farmers, and several have shown an interest in adopting the new crops.

Getting ResultsStompin' Radishes300
An investment of time in marketing and education yielded a payback in increased sales. In 2013, Hilltop Community Farm realized a 48% increase in fresh fruit sales, and a 21% increase in value added products produced on the farm. Their customer base increased by 18%, and they added two new restaurant accounts. During early 2014, “farm currantcy” generated $650 in advance sales. The coupon allowed people to purchase different fruit products available by preorder. Erin and Rob have an easier time pricing their product because of the cost of production models that were created as part of the project.

In a CSA marketplace where customers have an increasing number of choices for farms with a diverse product base, new and different fruits have proved to be a strong selling point.

“Fruit has helped us carve our niche,” said Erin Schneider.

Advice for new growers
• If you are trying to establish a market for new specialty crops, you can expect to spend 25% more time on research and educating customers about your product.
• It’s good to remain flexible, to be open to adaptation and change as you negotiate your way through establishing a new customer base and market for the product.
• Before you make health claims about your products, make sure you can back them up. The data is out there, but the jury’s still out on the health benefits of specialty fruits.
• Make sure you have the fruit sold before you pick any berries. The shelf life of these berries is a little longer than raspberries or strawberries, but not as long as tree fruits.
• Ask for help with research. Erin received invaluable assistance from a librarian at the University of Wisconsin business school.
• Track your data, and if you can’t make a profit, don’t do it.
• For classes and events, find a group to partner with which can help to advertise the event and connect with customers.

Additional Resources:

Fruit Profitability Calculator
This is an Excel based model, based on a similar effort led by the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry Research and developed for elderberries. The calculator shows a return on investment for different experimental fruits and their inputs including labor.

SARE Final Report


“Forest Gardening: Growing a Community for Your Orchard” in USDA’s Inside Agroforestry
Erika Jensen is a freelance writer in Waupun, Wisconsin.