Dig Deeper

A Taste of Urban Agriculture

by Renee Ciulla

The trend of eating healthy, local food and knowing the farmer who produced your food has moved far beyond the UrbanAg3countryside. City residents play a significant role in the local food movement as well. In fact, when researching urban agriculture it’s incredible to realize that cities not only produce impressive vegetables and are home to legitimate farmers, but they also grow large amounts of farm-based education.

Even the United States Department of Agriculture has noted the importance of city gardens. Secretary Vilsack began the People's Garden Initiative in 2009 as an “effort to challenge employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. It has since grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country.” They believe that the simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods in a common effort and inspire locally-led solutions to challenges facing our country. As of November 2014, there were 2,116 People's Gardens in all 50 states, three U.S. territories and eight foreign countries with 3.9 million pounds of produce donated. Recipients range from Homer, Alaska on the Southern Kenai Peninsula to San Carlos, Arizona on the Apache Reservation working with Youth and Family Gardens.

Interestingly, the Trust for Public Land, a U.S. national, nonprofit organization that conserves land for parks, gardens and open space, has also taken interest in the urban agriculture movement. For example, in Boston TPL has partnered with the organization, Green City Growers. Soon after the 1st urban agriculture zoning law went into effect in Boston, the TPL noted that the city owned over 2,000 vacant lots totaling around 500 acres. By working with urban ag groups, they are able to assist with water connections which can cost around $20K. The TPL currently hopes to get a total of 3 acres in production while working with Green City Growers. Of course having political leaders in place who support urban agriculture is also an important key to the puzzle. According to Karen Washington, President of the NYC Community Garden Coalition, “Land tenure in a city is always a political issue. Your land tenure is only as good as the current administration.” Washington works tirelessly in New York City neighborhoods to bring fresh food to local residents. She stressed that, “Urban agriculture isn’t just about preservation. You’ve also got to look at job creation, economical development and ownership. We need to talk to urban developers about keeping some open space. This is necessary for future generations.” Fortunately, there are now several American cities with urban agriculture ordinances such as Portland, OR, Minneapolis, MN, Seattle, WA, Detroit, MI and Cleveland, OH.

An extraordinary urban agriculture site that shouldn’t be overlooked is The Food Project, producing on over 70 acres in Boston, Lincoln, Lynn, Beverly, and Wenham, Massachusetts. Heather Hammel, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, stated that they work with approximately 2,700 untrained volunteers every year. Many come on a regular basis, but others come as part of corporate, community, and school groups. The Food Project has CSA programs in Metro Boston, Lincoln, Beverly, and Lynn and sell at three farmers markets. There are 404 households who are a part of the market-rate CSAs and another 161 households who participate in a subsidized CSA program called the Farm to Family Program. According to Hammel, their priority is, “…establishing an urban farming enterprise that suits the needs of the community and also can incorporate fluctuating numbers of youth and adult volunteers and staff. The Food Project gauges its success by the experience of their youth and adult volunteers and reactions and purchases of local customers.”

UrbanAg1Danielle Andrews, the farm manager of The Food Project, emphasized the significance of the City of Boston creating urban agriculture zoning in December 2013. Furthermore, they were fortunate to have had former Mayor Menino who supported urban agriculture and youth development work. “These new laws for zoning were a result of private individuals and businesses wanting to be involved in urban agriculture work,” explained Andrews, “and the City seeing the need for zoning in order to shape the movement and ensure safety and fairness.” An important tip for those who are pursuing urban agriculture enterprises is to look up when a Town’s Comprehensive Plan is due to be updated, so efforts can be made to rewrite the zoning codes.

In recent years, The Food Project has turned to high end markets (mostly selling salad greens, pea and radish shoots) to bolster their income. Andrews has found that the mixed vegetable sales to the local community does not generate much income and requires a lot more work than the salad greens and shoots. One of the more unique crops they have grown in the past is okra, and their most profitable are: salad mix, arugula, baby spinach, pea and radish shoots and tomatoes. Customer favorites include: salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, collards, garlic, habaneros, shishito peppers and kale. Andrews’ final contemplative thoughts carry a broader message; “I worry a lot that people are turning to urban agriculture for food access, but I think it is quite limited from that perspective. It is best used as an educational and social change tool because by engaging consumers in the act of agriculture we have a unique opportunity to engage them in food system change. This is the true worth of urban agriculture.”

Another urban agriculture example also in the city of Boston is Green City Growers. Augusta Nichols-Even, the Marketing Director, walked me through their dizzying array of farm projects. Although the farms aren’t certified organic, they all employ organic methods. The largest farm is ½ acre, atop Whole Foods Market in Lynnfield, MA. According to Nichols-Even, “The land/rooftops we farm on are generally privately owned by residential or corporate clients, and we also farm at schools and other municipal locations. We are in talks to lease municipal lots in Somerville and East Boston.” Many of their clients are residential; they’ve installed over 450 raised beds and continue to maintain about 150 every year. Additionally, they have a dozen corporate gardens at sites like Google, Verizon, National Grid and Athena health. These sites donate half or all of their produce to the food bank, Food for Free, in Cambridge. Proudly, Augusta shared that in 2014 over 1,000 pounds of organically grown produce was donated from the corporate gardens. Green City Growers does not have a CSA or sell at markets, but plans to have farmstands at many of the municipal lots established this year to serve the immediate community. Tomatoes have been their most profitable and popular crop. The Urban Agriculture ordinances that have passed in Somerville and Boston have minimized any conflicts related to growing food in the city. To reduce soil contamination they grow in raised beds instead of directly in the soil. As for urban chickens, each municipality still has their own rules which require the staff to be vigilant about understanding the differences.

One of their most significant achievements will hopefully be mirrored by other urban ag groups across the country. They have partnered with Whole Foods to create the largest rooftop farm in New England and the first rooftop farm on a grocery store. Equally incredible is that they created raised bed gardens and educational programming at all 5 elementary schools across the City of Beverly. Nichols-Even highlighted exactly what this means; “…every third grader in all of Beverly learns how to grow their own food over the course of the school year, and classroom curriculum is woven into garden lessons to enhance their learning.” Another exciting development for Green City Growers is working with one of the largest real estate companies, Boston Properties, who regularly includes GCG on new construction projects to incorporate edible green space. “The challenge,” says Nichols-Even, “has been to shift the mindset of municipalities and corporations. Urban farming isn't just something cute for retirees who listen to NPR to fill their days with; it's an increasingly important element of urban life that should be included in every urban planning discussion and project.”UrbanAg2

Jennifer Hashley, Director of New Entry Sustainable Agriculture Project, feels that with all future urban and non-urban ag projects, the issue of leases must be incorporated and given top priority. Located in Massachusetts, this non-profit manages semi-urban incubator farms for future farmers to try out farming without a huge investment. From Hashley’s experience leasing land for New Entry, she has come to believe that, “A 5-10 year lease just isn’t long to fully feel ownership. Building soil and infrastructure takes time… 99 yrs would be more appropriate!” When considering elements of a good land lease, please check out examples provided by Land For Good and Equity Trust, whose contacts are listed in the Resources section at the end of this article.

Land trusts can also play a prominent role in urban agriculture and are familiar with the importance of effective leases. In the opinion of Margaret DeVos, Executive Director of Southside Community Land Trust located in the city of Providence, RI, “Rhode Island is incredibly progressive when it comes to agriculture. Rhode Islanders don’t worry about zoning laws because plant production and raising chickens are both ‘legal’.” Interestingly, RI is the second most expensive state to buy agricultural land ($11,800/acre), so Southside is working hard to make farming possible. Urban Edge Farm, one of the many Southside farms, is 15 acres and has a land easement placed through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The land is leased to 7 farmers who can stay as long as they want. When they are ready to leave, Southside will help them search for land.

Moving west across the country to the state of Kentucky is Louisville Grows, founded in 2009 by Mason Roberts. Their mission is “to grow a just and sustainable community in Louisville, Kentucky, through urban agriculture, urban forestry, and environmental education.” Programs include community gardens, Love Louisville Trees, the Seeds and Starts Garden Resource Program, and the Urban Growers Cooperative. Louisville Grows coordinates the Cooperative by organizing a time and tool bank, assisting in land access, coordinating sales and delivery with retailers and growers, and by providing low-cost seeds and plants. Louisville Grows offers an impressive assortment of services include educational opportunities related to sustainability and social justice, free or subsidized plants and seeds for home and community gardeners, community space to garden and education for beginning gardeners, increasing Louisville’s tree canopy through coordinated volunteer training and plantings and coordinating and distributing produce from urban farmers to neighborhoods with limited access to fresh food. Staff at Louisville Grows directs residents of Louisville to the VAP STAT website, which provides users with a wide list of properties governed by the Louisville Metro Government and other city wide agencies. Their motto is “from vacant spaces to productive places,” and they recently awarded several groups with land parcels through the Lots of Possibility competition. VAP STAT is a necessary link for successful urban agriculture initiatives.

On the West coast in the city of Seattle, visitors are often struck by the large plots of verdant, organized raised beds in substantial numbers appearing in every neighborhood. These food-producing beds are a part of the P-Patch Program, a community gardening program of the City of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods, open to Seattle residents. For the past 40 years, staff have partnered with volunteers, local non-profit organizations, Seattle Housing Authority and other agencies to support, develop and manage community gardening in Seattle. In total, there are now 88 P-Patches distributed throughout the city, with plot size ranging from 40 and 400 ft². The community gardeners are producing food on almost 15 acres of land and in addition steward 18.8 acres for the public. The name, P-Patch, originated from its first community garden, Picardo Farm. The gardeners are required to complete a minimum of 8 hours of community work per year in order to take part in the program. Furthermore, there are plot rental fees including a $27 application fee and $13 for each 100 ft² of garden space.

In 2013 Seattle P-Patch Market Gardens provided produce for approximately 57 households over 20 weeks. There are two community supported agriculture (CSA) gardens located in and worked by residents in Southeast and Southwest Seattle. Each garden also sells produce on site at a weekly farm stand. The P-Patches are a stellar example of an open space resource for all members of the community. Hopefully they motivate other cities in the USA to provide green places to share love of gardening, cultivate friendships, strengthen neighborhoods, increase self-sufficiency, create wildlife habitat, relieve hunger, improve nutrition and enjoy the recreational and therapeutic benefits.


Green City Growers: www.growmycitygreen.com

The Food Project: www.thefoodproject.org

Boston Urban Agriculture Zoning: http://www.cityofboston.gov/food/urbanag

Southside Community Land Trust: http://www.southsideclt.org/about

Urban Edge Farm, a Southside farm: http://www.southsideclt.org/urbanedge

New Entry Sustainable Agriculture Project: www.nesfp.org/

NYC Community Garden Coalition: www.nyccgc.org

Trust for Public Land: www.tpl.org

Land For Good: www.landforgood.org

Equity Trust: www.equitytrust.org/

Louisville Grows: http://www.louisvillegrows.org/

USDA’s The People’s Garden: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=PEOPLES_GARDEN

P-Patch Community Gardens Seattle: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/ppatch/

Farm Photo Friday: May 8, 2015

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!


All hands on deck! Together, all the employees stepped up to help weed and prepare the gardens for the upcoming weddings! Even the cat is getting in on the action!


Xena and Houdini don't have any weeds in their pen, so they decided to sleep in.


Spring flowers mean it's go time for the bees to pollinate! Come see what all the buzz is about at our honeybee conservancy!


These hives aren't just placed randomly. They're arranged in the shape of an octagon and face South East. This is where the sun rises, which is beneficial for the bees and helps them to build wax.

IMG_8207One small step for hog; one giant leap for hog kind! The future is in sight for the hogs as they begin to transition into the Hog Facility.

IMG_8223"I call dibs on the bigger bed!"

By the end of the summer, these orchards will be filling up with Liberty and Empire apples. But for now, we are enjoying the summer flowers!


The farm has exploded with flowers and greenery! Take the afternoon to enjoy the scenery with us by signing up for a tour or attending an upcoming event! If you're wondering, all that white stuff isn't snow! It's kaolin clay, a natural chalk-like substance that we use to keep insects from eating the plants. It's safe to humans and doesn't hurt the insects. Think of it this way:  if you had to eat through an inch of chalk to get to the apple, would you eat it?

IMG_8274Can you imagine how this brick pathway will look this weekend? We can! Beautiful flowers, a beautiful wedding and a beautiful bride!

IMG_8299Aaron Kinsman, Media Relations Specialist,  is bringing down the hammer with style!

IMG_8304Jesse Barrett, Organic Allentown Program Manager, and Dan Kemper, Strategic Support Team Member, are getting down and dirty while weeding!


There's a new animal in town! Heather Kaiser, Communications Intern, brought in her new puppy, Cooper. There was a collective "awww!" in the office!


Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist, and Jesse Barrett, Organic Allentown Program Manager, are building the very first Organic Allentown vertical growing gardens! Check them out at Lehigh valley heritage museum in Allentown.

Don't forget...Show your organic love! 

Maple Syrup from the Farm


Kate Harms and Marissa Wagner, Research Technicians, pose proudly with the maple syrup they tapped from Rodale Institute maple trees.

 Sweet Treats from our Trees

By Sabrina Mastronardo, Communications Intern

Our maple trees have been on the farm for years. They’ve shaded the staff and animals in the summer, protected our streams, and added to the biodiversity of Rodale Institute. But for the first time this year, we’ve tapped into the trees for another purpose: maple syrup.

The typical maple syrup you might use to drown your morning pancakes is probably derived from the sap of the Sugar maple tree. Rodale Institute Research Technician, Kate Harms, saw that she could get similar results by tapping our own Sugar maples. But what about the Red, Silver, and Norway maple trees that are also scattered across the farm? For readers at home, would it be possible for them to use the mixture of maples in their backyard for syrup?


Kate Harms, Research Technician, begins the tapping process by drilling a small hole the maple tree. This is where the sap will flow out from.

“There’s not a lot of data saying what kind of sugar content you can get from sap of other trees,” Harms said.

Pure sap is only 2%-3% sugar. The rest is water that must be boiled down until what remains is syrup with 66% sugar. The higher the sugar content of the sap, the less boiling it requires, a main reason for why people use Sugar maples, a tree known for its high sugar content.

Harms began tapping in February, a time prime for sap harvest, with freezing nights and w
armer days  the sap flows through tubes into a bucket. After setting 97 taps in four varieties of maple trees found on the farm, Harms and her team found themselves with 600 gallons of sap. It was transferred to an evaporator where the water was boiled off for four days.

20 gallons of maple syrup later, Harms’ results were in: other maple varieties had desirable sugar content, too. By combining four types of sap into one bottle, diversity even enhanced the syrup’s taste. “Like wine, the types of trees, weather, time of season, and the soil will put certain flavors in it,” Harms added.

Camera photos 2015 179

Harms shows how the evaporator is fueled so that the sap's water content can be boiled off, resulting in a syrup composed of 66% sugar.

On the tags of Rodale Institute’s maple syrup, the word “pure” is printed on its front cover; it is a word that bombards consumers on boxes and bottles down the aisles of the grocery store. Harms explains how pure maple syrup tapped at home – or better yet, on a certified-organic farm – is much different than big syrup brands.

“At the grocery store, many commercial pancake syrups are anything but maple syrup,” she said, listing high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, and artificial flavor as additives. “Everything we do is right from the tree.”


The final product, where Rodale Institute research meets sweet bottled treats! The syrup is now ready to be sold at our Garden Store.

Harms has been tapping maple syrup in her own backyard for the past six years, a process she says is easy for people to pick up at home. Instead of the heavy-duty evaporator used at Rodale Institute, Harms uses the grill or her stove to boil the water, and finds equipment to be inexpensive. Maple syrup production doesn’t have to be reserved for the trees of Quebec and Vermont. Harm’s work shows that the collection of maples in the region can yield the same sticky, sweet stuff. She and Rodale Institute are looking forward to next February, when she’ll again tap into the trees that have been here all along.

Many thanks to Leader Evaporator for their support of this project.

Farm Photo Friday: May 1, 2015

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!


Can you see the smiley face in Irwin's nose?


Everyone could use a little more green in their life! Come see these plants for yourself at the Spring Open House Plant Sale on May 8th and 9th. Maggie Saska, Plant Production Specialist, is preparing them to be transplanted right into your garden!

"I'll bet you a bale of hay that you can't touch your tongue to your nose!"


Parsley, thyme, and basil–oh my! Dan Kemper, Strategic Support Team Member is planting an herb garden for the Institute staff. Learn creative ways to incorporate herbs into your garden at our Healthy Herbal Traditions workshop on June 13th!


Though it was a cloudy day, the water still reflected the beautiful Rodale Institute scenery.


The week started off a little gloomy, but we think that from here on out there'll be blue skies... and greener pastures! The sheep seem to agree!


Houdini took advantage of the sun's warmth with an afternoon mud nap! Xena, on the other hand, didn't want to get too tan.


Looks like Houdini isn't the only tired one! Sometimes, all you need is a cat nap – even if you're a pig!


Spring is in full bloom here at the Rodale Institute. If you want to know how to improve your plant growth, check out our Backyard Composting class on May 2nd!

Mark Fabian, Facilities Team Member, is laying down the bricks that will be the new patio for the boiron herb garden!


At Rodale Institute, there's never a dull moment. This week, we brought in conventional calves which will be transitioned to organic!


The barn is coming together nicely for the upcoming wedding season! Inside, the lights are hung, the floor is waxed - but you'll just have to visit us to see for yourself!

Don't forget...Show your organic love! 

‘July is National Organic Honey Month’ Announce Rodale Institute & Wedderspoon Organic

Aaron Kinsman
Media Relations Specialist
610-683-1427 (farm office)
215-589-2490 (mobile)

April 29, 2015 (Kutztown, PA) Rodale Institute, a non-profit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach, announced a new campaign in partnership with Wedderspoon Organic naming the month of July as National Organic Honey Month. The ‘July is National Organic Honey Month’ campaign will make use of social media to spread awareness around issues affecting the honeybees. Both groups will use the hashtag #beeaware to track the conversation and will host a kick-off event on June 21st as part of the Institute’s ‘Kick Off the BBQ Season’ event at their Kutztown, PA research farm.

The campaign will celebrate honeybees and their contribution to the food system as pollinators. It will also raise awareness around the decline in honeybee populations and the threats they face in the form of toxic agricultural chemicals.

Conversely, National Honey Month is held in September and promotes beekeepers, the beekeeping industry and honey as a sweetening product. The USDA-overseen National Honey Board selected September as Honey Month back in 1989 because September is the month when honey collection ends for most conventional beekeepers.

“If you are a beekeeper and you are going to take honey, you should finish by the end of July so that the bees have enough honey to survive the winter. Continuing to harvest honey until September does not give them enough time to build necessary stores for the winter,” said Rodale Institute executive director, ‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood.

Rodale Institute’s 333-acre research farm is home to the Honeybee Conservancy, started in 2012 in response to major health problems decimating the honeybee population in North America. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) still results in a 30% death rate every winter for these valuable pollinators with no answer in sight. Rodale Institute posits that individual honeybee stewards are one of the solutions to this problem.

The Honeybee Conservancy promotes healthy beekeeping practices through education and outreach and includes classes in sustainable beekeeping practices, hive hosting on Rodale Institute’s organic farm and support for beginners through the network.

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% higher. This year, 2014, marks the 34th year of the trial. 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.



Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For more than sixty years, we’ve been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing our findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest options for people and the planet.


Wedderspoon® Organic is committed to providing our customers with top quality, premium, and organically certified Manuka honey and honey products from around the world. Wedderspoon® was created 8 years ago with the unique mindset of providing genuine, pure Manuka honey with a high pollen count and has been the top selling leader in the industry since.

A young, innovative company, Wedderspoon® bases its principles on ethical and sustainable honey production, the support of bee conservation and the goal of reducing our negative impact on the environment.​






Farm Photo Friday: April 24, 2015

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 looks like these two aren't sheepish about showing some brotherly love!


Everyone is hard at work in the greenhouse. Cynthia James, ASC Program Manager and Jesse Barrett, Organic Allentown Program Manager, are transplanting eggplants into larger containers so they have more room to grow!


It looks like everyone is having some fun as well! Don't have too much fun! These plants need to be ready soon for the Spring Open House Plant Sale on May 8th and 9th.


Ruuuuuuuuuun! Lewis and Clark are playing a game of freeze tag! Can you guess who is frozen?


Rick Carr, Compost Specialist, is hauling out the big toys today to make room for fresh straw for Lewis and Clark. Rick is a man of many talents– he will also be teaching a series of Master Composter Program classes at the Institute from May to June!


Silly pig – fetch is for dogs!


This little pig loves to show his mom, Miss Peggy, all the odds and ends he finds while exploring this big, new world!


Bill Lenhard, Strategic Support Team Member, and Mark Fabian, Facilities Team Member, are teaming up to redesign the Boiron Garden. The site will soon host wedding ceremonies in the sunny months to come. Next on the list is to design colorful floral arrangements that will surround the garden.


Coach Mark Smallwood knows how to please a crowd, whether it be our Norwegian Dwarf goats or humans alike!


Looks like the hogs will be moving in sooner than expected! Progress on our Hog Facility has been made at light speed. Stay tuned for the grand opening when the hogs take the first step into their new home!


Remember the tomato grafting photo in a previous Farm Photo Friday? The process is now complete and these strong San Marzano tomato roots are busting out. They can't wait to make their debut at the Spring Open House Plant Sale!

Don't forget...Show your organic love! 


Rodale Institute Announces Three New Staff Members

Aaron Kinsman
Office: 610-683-1427
Mobile: 215-589-2490

(Kutztown, PA, April 21, 2015) Rodale Institute, a non-profit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach, today announced the addition of three new employees: Dr. Vijay Bhosekar, Director of Scientific Communications; Jesse Barrett, Organic Allentown Program Manager and Justin Barclay, Veteran Farming Program Coordinator.

Dr. Vijay Bhosekar has a Doctorate in Plant Agriculture and more than 25 years of experience as a Research Manager and Research Associate at ANGR Vijay HeadshotAgricultural University in India. Dr. Bhosekar has published more than seventy five peer reviewed scientific publications and has conducted numerous seminars on his area of expertise.

Dr. Bhosekar will work with the Research and Communications
Departments to present the Institute’s research findings to a range of audiences, including scientists, farmers and the general public. He will be responsible for submissions to scientific peer reviewed journals, assisting with lab and field work, and for developing curriculum for farmer training and workshops.

“I am very excited to join Rodale Institute, a pioneer organization in the field of organics. This is an opportunity for me to gain in-depth practical knowledge in organic agriculture working with an educated and dedicated team.” ~ Dr. Vijay Bhosekar, Director of Scientific Communications

jesse press releaseJesse Barrett will manage two farmers’ markets in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as part of the Organic Allentown initiative, a comprehensive initiative to create a city-wide culture around urban organic agriculture. Each market will feature vendors who are certified organic by the USDA or are in the certification process. The markets are located on 7th Street at the St. Luke’s Evangelical Church Parking lot and at the YWCA / YMCA on 15th Street in Allentown. Barrett will also play a hands-on role in developing organic gardens in vacant lots and public spaces throughout Allentown.

“I’m deeply honored to work with Rodale Institute to provide the Allentown community with access to fresh, local organic foods at affordable prices. It’s my personal mission to help make Organic Allentown a successful model that cities around the world will follow to a healthier future.” ~ Jesse Barrett, Organic Allentown Program Manager

Justin Barclay brings with him over ten years of experience in the United States Army and an additional seven years of experience as an analyst justin press releaseand instructor working with the military. His work will expand the Institute’s farmer training offerings for military veterans. With an aging demographic of farmers in America and extreme shortages of certified organic products, Rodale Institute will offer new pathways into organic agriculture for military veterans.

Rodale Institute has also partnered with Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, PA to create the Organic Farming Program; a 36-credit, one-year certificate program which is open to all students, but was created with military veterans in mind.

“Bringing new organic farmers onto the scene is only possible through quality training programs like the one Rodale Institute and Delaware Valley University have developed. It’s an honor to be a part of improving the way our society farms.” ~ Justin Barclay, Veteran Farming Program Coordinator

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Bhosekar, Jesse and Justin to the Rodale Institute team,” says Rodale Institute Executive Director, ‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood. “These new positions are specialized to support the Institute’s ability to create new models of organic agriculture, to train new organic farmers and to communicate our findings to the world.”

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% higher. This year, 2014, marks the 34th year of the trial. 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.



Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For more than sixty years, we’ve been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing our findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest options for people and the planet.


Rodale Institute DelVal Organic Farming Program: http://www.delval.edu/organic

Organic Allentown: http://rodaleinstitute.org/allentown

Farm Photo Friday: April 17, 2015

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!


Thank you to everyone who came out to the Cold Crop Plant Sale this past weekend! Despite the weather on Friday we had a great turn out. We hope everyone had fun and we wish everyone a bountiful garden! Next month, we'll have our Spring Open House Plant Sale where you'll find hot crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and so much more!


"I see you have come to take pictures of me. How's this angle?" Alfalfa the Nigerian Dwarf Goat has been practicing his poses just in case the camera catches him off guard!


Best friends are hard to come by! These little guys have been busy rooting through the soil, tilling so we don't have to.


The Hog Facility is really coming together. We're putting the final touches on it just in time for summer. The hogs have been watching with anticipation for the big move-in day!


Okay, sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side.


Come adventure through the Elderberry forest!  Elderberries have many medicinal qualities and are perfect for an organic summer snack!


Look who's taking a ride on his big green tractor. Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, is preparing the Rodale Institute fields for summer planting.  He can go slow or he can go faster!


Cynthia James, ASC Program Manager, and her team are planting broccoli using the water wheel transplanter. These broccoli plants will then be harvested sometime in the end of June and be distributed to communities for ASC.


As Cynthia drives, the water wheel transplanter pokes holes in the ground for the plants to be placed. At the same time, there is a hose leading from the main tank that runs water into the holes to provide the plants with a moist place to grow. If this work interests you, check out our ASC internship opportunities on the Rodale Institute website!


This primrose is edible so if you happen to find yourself in the Hunger Games you'll be ahead of the competition!

Don't forget...Show your organic love! 

Organic 3.0

By Peggy Miars, OMRI Executive Director/CEO and member of the IFOAM World Board

As organic stakeholders and advocates, we have certainly reached thousands of consumers over the years with our message of improved health and environmental stewardship. But beyond growth, what do we envision for the future of organics worldwide? How will the organic industry of 2030 differ from what we have now? IFOAM-Organics International has already started the conversation and is planning for changes to come. In the process, we’re uniting our collective efforts and developing a plan for organic agriculture in the modern age.

As a new member of the IFOAM World Board, I have been surprised and delighted by the sheer number of imagesorganizations working to support organic food worldwide. Although our interests and priorities might differ, IFOAM works to find common ground and focuses stakeholders on our shared goals. In the process, we build a stronger community with tremendous potential to enact change in our lifetimes. We’ve reached a point in the growth of organics where the future is bright, and focus is exactly what we need. IFOAM-Organics International has titled their exploration “Organic 3.0,” the next phase for the organic industry.


J.I Rodale

Looking back, we are incredibly fortunate for the work of J.I. Rodale, Rudolph Steiner, Masanobu Fukuoka, and many others who promoted organics in the early 20th century. We can look at this early phase as “Organic 1.0,” a time when the modern industry was just being born from a few tireless advocates. And we are currently seeing the benefits of their dedication in “Organic 2.0,” with a strong industry and stable growth. There has never been a better time to look ahead and chart a course for the future!

IFOAM-Organics International sees the new 3.0 phase as characterized by a culture of technical and social innovation that leads to widespread and mainstream adoption of organic practices. It includes re-thinking the contribution of the organic movement to solving global challenges such as food security, climate change and other environmental and societal issues. The Organic 3.0 approach will enable more people to adopt organic practices and participate with a renewed focus on sustainability.

According to IFOAM, movement toward a sustainable, healthy planet requires simultaneous action on three complementary fronts:

  • Education for producers, consumers and other stakeholders, including scientific evidence of the benefits of organic practices, and clear messages for the general public
  • Policy reform to reflect the true cost of sustainable practices, and to incentivize improved performance with regard to sustainable production
  • A new market framework to assure that credible, meaningful, valid claims are accessible beyond a small niche

Bringing these approaches into action, IFOAM sees two sides to Organic 3.0: updated content and updated methodology. The updated content will define what it means to be organic, with a minimum set of requirements that reflect the four Principles of Organic Production (Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care). These requirements will incorporate best practices in sustainability, with a commitment to continuous improvement.

The updated methodology establishes how organic practices are carried out. It’s inclusive, transparent and participatory, enabling young people to enter organic farming with the appropriate skills, while still allowing stakeholders and consumers at all levels to understand and participate.

At OMRI, our mission is to support the growth and trust of the global organic community through expert, independent and transparent verification of input materials, and through education and technical assistance. We look forward to pursuing this mission with ongoing support for the new phase of global organic growth. Through Organic 3.0, more consumers and stakeholders will understand the importance of organics as the key to sustainable agriculture. This will in turn reduce dependence on non-organic practices and products.

Watch for an IFOAM Organic 3.0 narrative document, expected to be ready for circulation this summer. The document will then be finalized at an IFOAM-Organics International conference in Korea this fall, and an action plan is expected by the end of the year. In the meantime, please join the conversation! Visit IFOAM’s Organic 3.0 pages and send your feedback to David Gould, Value Chain Facilitator, at d.goud@ifoam.bio.





Farm Photo Friday: April 10, 2015

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!


The gang's all here...in the mud! These hogs were cooling down from the warm weather we were having earlier this week.


"Thanks Ross and Michael, we love our new home!"
Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, with the help of Michael Schmaeling, Facilities Team Member, did a great job of building the chickens their dream home! This is the final product from the sneak-peak you saw last week! Don't miss our Keeping Chickens: Get the scoop inside the coop workshop on April 25th!


Stephanie Zimmerman, Strategic Solutions Team Member, is giving the piglets some love! They sure do love back scratches! The piglets are growing fast and so is their curiosity! Be sure to register early for the Heritage Pastured Pigs: Help your hogs help your profits workshop on May 2nd!

photo 5

This little lamb is curious as well! It seems as if he is challenging this photographer to a game of shadow tag!


This photographer has been spotted a mile away!




Snap! We got the close-up! Irwin seems less amused...


Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist and Jesse Barrett, Organic Allentown Program Manager, are making more skeletons for the vertical growing towers that were shown last week! Be sure to follow them as they continue to work on the Organic Allentown program.


Even Heather Kaiser, Rodale Institute Communications Intern, was hard at work creating the vertical growing towers!

bee edited

The bees are back and the farm is finally in full bloom! Thanks to Michael Schmaeling, Facilities Team Member, this celebratory moment is captured!


Sun's out gun's out! This little piggy is keeping his nose high and his spirits even higher!


Last week we saw Dan Kemper, Strategic Support Team Member, demonstrate how to graft tomato plants. Here we see how the plants look when they are grafted together.


Dan Kemper, Strategic Support Team Member, is making last minute adjustments to the plants at the Cold Crop Plant sale today!


Don't worry if you can't make it out to the Cold Crop Plant sale today. We'll be back on Saturday. Same time, same place, same great products!


Squeakers doesn't mind that it's a not-so-puuurrrfect day out. He's a witty little kitty who loves to roam the farm!

Don't forget...Show your organic love!