Dig Deeper

Bringing the dirt to your doorstep: Weed Management

For a generation of farmers raised on the idea that herbicides were the ultimate solution to weeds, creeping levels of resistance to chemical control opens the post-chemical chapter in weed management. Herbicide resistant “superweeds” have been identified on 14 million acres in 46 states to date.

Agriculturalists around the world are looking for better answers than have come so far from herbicide-focused efforts. They seek productive systems based on evolving local farmer wisdom. These deal with all pests—weeds included—as part of an approach integrating soil health, biodiversity, advanced understandings of biological interactions, and just enough steel to give crops the edge they need.

Join Rodale Institute, Penn State University, North Carolina State University and Iowa State University as growers and researchers present live, hands-on farmer workshops on organic practices that improve efficiency, soil health and crop health, and increase both production and economic yields. (more…)

Animal husbandry coordinator needed!

Rodale Institute is accepting applications for an Animal Husbandry Coordinator. Primary responsibilities include overseeing the care, feeding and breeding of livestock. (more…)

Organic no-till basics

Organic no-till is a rotational tillage system which combines the best aspects of no-till while satisfying the requirements of the USDA organic regulations. Organic no-till is both a technique and tool to achieve the farmer’s objectives of reducing tillage and building soil health. It is also a whole farm system. And these techniques and tools can work equally well on all farms whether or not they are organic.

Organic no-till can help your farm in a number of different ways but it is imperative that the system be implemented in a way that encourages success. Here are just a few of the key concepts to think about: (more…)

State of the Seed

By Lia Babitch, Turtle Tree Seed

This is a very interesting time to be a small seed company that grows, maintains, improves and cares for a number of vegetable, herb and flower varieties on our own farm. On the one hand, we see an increasing awareness among people who farm and garden that the source of their seeds is important, that not all seed sources are equal, and that choosing where to buy seeds is as important as where to buy or how to raise food.

Industrial seed production, because it is not considered food, is less regulated in terms of what chemicals can go on the crops and into the environment. And industrial seed production is concentrated in a few specific areas across the globe, causing concern that should one of these areas become vulnerable or have a bad season, seed supplies of a given crop could dramatically drop. (more…)

Crossover technologies for soil health

Organic growers have historically had to rely on the surrounding soil and ecosystem biology to support their crops since the chemistry of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers were unavailable. But every farm can benefit from improved soil health and reduced costs. Several technologies that were initiated as organic strategies can easily be transferred to any operation.

Soil health is dependent on several key concepts, all based on the idea that soil is a complex material made up of a physical component, a chemical component and a biological component. It is only when all three of these components are in balance that the soil can function in a dynamic state of health. (more…)

Innovative on-site watewater treatment

By Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute Farm Director

Water is one of the most undervalued resources we have. Less than 1 percent of all the water on earth is considered potable and available for our use. Today, an average American household uses 400 gallons of water per day, most of this precious resource literally going down the drain. In Pennsylvania more than 30 percent of all households use a well as their source of water and an on-lot or decentralized system for handling the waste water coming from their residences. According the U.S. EPA, more than 10 percent of these sewage systems fail every year.

When Rodale Institute began looking at replacing our outdated public facility we started by looking more closely at the source of our water and the systems we were using to manage our waste water. The idea of simply hooking up to public utilities such as municipal water and sewage is not always the answer and many on-lot systems are in some stage of periodic failure. Our waste water systems, nationally, are taxed beyond their ability for expansion and we felt it only right to view our system within this context. (more…)

Young farmer gets land and gets started

Caroline Hampton has been farming for four years, but 2014 will be the first year she’s has her own piece of land. Leasing from the F.I.G Project (Farm Incubator and Grower Project) in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, Caroline is looking forward to serving the progressive mountain community with good organic and sustainable food. She’ll also be sharing her beginning farmer experiences here with us. Here is a little bit about Caroline and her farm, Octopus Garden…

Octopus Garden NC from Haley Dona on Vimeo.

Stop feeding the beast and start feeding the people

By Coach Mark Smallwood
Follow Coach’s blogs posts at Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen and EcoWatch

Have you ever wondered how anyone makes any money on a $2.00 bag of nacho-cheese–flavored corn chips or a $0.25 apple? Economists and policy wonks have been talking about how we privatize profits and socialize loss here in the U.S. for at least a decade. If your eyes glazed over when you read that, you are not alone. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to ignore how this big picture idea affects each and every one of us. What does it mean for Main Street America?

The way we grow our nation’s food is the perfect snapshot of this concept. Organic activists and locavores have also been talking about the same concept for just as long, if not longer: the hidden costs of cheap, industrial food. (more…)

Transition to organic

Rodale Institute has been synonymous with organic farming for decades. We’ve watched organic grow from a fringe movement to a multi-billion-dollar industry. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), with participation from the organic community, adopted federal uniform National Organic Program (NOP) Standards for organic production in 2002.

There are several considerations in the argument for transitioning to organic agriculture. From an environmental standpoint, organic agriculture builds life in the soil while avoiding the use of toxic chemicals that can accumulate in soil, water, food and people. Non-organic farming relies on dwindling fossil fuel resources, while organic farmers build their own fertility into their systems, which improve over time and do not rely on outside inputs. (more…)