Dig Deeper

Recipes: Peppers

The Beekman 1802 Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from The Beekman 1802 Vegetable Heirloom Cookbook

4 bell peppers
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 ounces dried chorizo, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
¾ cup small star-shaped pasta or orzo
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove ¼ inch of the tops of the peppers. Discard the stems and finely chop the pepper tops. Halve the peppers lengthwise, and scoop out and discard the seeds. Drizzle the pepper halves inside and out with 2 tablespoons of the oil and place them cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp-tender. If you like, remove the pepper skins.

Meanwhile, ina medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and chopped pepper tops and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender, Stir in the chorizo, pasta, tomatoes, water, salt, and smoked paprika and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.

Spoon the mixture into the pepper halves and serve.


Chiles Rellenos
Adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

Cut this recipe in half for a nice side dish! My kids love this!

Whole or halved hot or semi-hot chiles (Hungarian wax, Anaheim, Poblano, jalepenos, etc)
Enough to cover bottom of a 7-by13-inch pan
1 lb Monterey Jack cheese, cut into thin strips
5 large eggs
¼ cup flour
1 ¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ lb grated cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon paprika

Seed the chiles. Slip strips of Monterey Jack cheese inside chiles (or sprinkle shredded cheese on top). Beat eggs and gradually add flour, milk, and salt. Arrange chiles in well-greased pan. Sprinkle on the cheddar. Pour on egg mixture. Sprinkle on the paprika. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees, 45 minutes. Makes 6-8 Servings.


Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

A little oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
3 cups raw brown rice
6 cups water, chicken or vegetable broth, or tomato juice
½ teaspoon allspice
½ cup almonds, chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
¾ lb cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
9 large peppers, tops cut off, seeds removed

Heat oil in large skillet; add and sauté garlic and onions. Add rice and brown about 5 minutes. Add desired liquid and allspice. Cover and cook until rice is done, about 40 minutes. Toast almonds in dry skillet or hot oven several minutes, tossing often. Stir in tomatoes, cheese, almonds, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook peppers in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and stuff peppers with rice mixture. Bake at 350 degrees, 30 minutes. Makes 9 servings.

Farm Photo Friday: August 1, 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!

This week, Farm Photo Friday presents…

A Few Fun Farm Fixes!


Large crack/hole/abyss in the parking lot?


No problem! Just fill it in with fresh asphalt.


Voila!  It’s alright if you doubted we could fix it, we won’t asphalt you for that.


Do you have dirt on your spring onions? Of course you do! This is a farm, where vegetables grow in the soil!
Luckily, we have hard-working intern Sima Pirooz to wash the soil right off.  Welcome Sima!


Sometimes, you can’t identify the weeds you’re pulling up. The solution? Hold the weed very, very closely to your face, and maybe it will… whisper it’s name in your ear?   Unlikely.
Demonstration Garden intern Greg Butler is hoping to identify this weed by it’s smell – we sense that he trusts his nose!


Late potato blight has come early this season.  As a certified organic farm, we don’t use synthetic fungicide – but that’s not going to stop Plant Production Specialist Sam Moll from staying vigilant.


Using the tractor, Sam cuts off the tops of the potato plants. Think of it as a plant amputation, it saves the potatoes themselves from the blight.


What kinds of things might leach into the ground water under a compost pile?
“C’mon, you guys, I am not going in there,” says Compost Production Specialist Rick Carr.
He explains in a very nervous manner that the compost cisterns were built to hold compost leachate, allowing it to be tested.


About once a year, the cisterns fill up with leachate and need to be emptied.  The liquid is pumped up and out through the blue hose, transferring it to a series of tanks and natural filtration systems.  Have you ever sniffed compost leachate?  Let’s just say that if you have to work near the blue hose, you may end up with a blue nose.  Phew!


Are you a lonely chicken?  Beak up chicken!
All you have to do is dig a nice dust bath to keep parasites away,  do a little dust bath dance, and you’ll have chicken friends flocking to you.

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Nestlé Waters’ Journey Toward Zero Waste

nestle_eco_shape_bottle In appreciation of their support, we invite Rodale Institute Business Members to share an article about their work on our website. These articles often include insightful information based on their experience and line of work.  It provides a unique perspective of organic agriculture that we enjoy sharing with our readers.

By Heidi Paul, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Waters North America, Inc.

Adopting a zero-waste mindset in business can pave the way for both environmental and financial wins. But creating a program that balances sustainability and consumer satisfaction takes commitment. (more…)

Halfway Through and Looking Ahead

photo 1_200by Caroline Hampton

When I reflect on my first year as an independent farmer, I feel proud of what I have accomplished. Though I can certainly credit myself for working hard and dedicating much time to my operation, I feel sure that luck has contributed just as much to my successes this season. This taste of early success has certainly hooked me on farming and made me feel that this is the career path that I can and want to continue to pursue. Every season for a farmer is about making it through the current season under changing conditions while thinking ahead to the next season and planning what can be done differently to improve next time around. In the coming months as we near fall, my posts will focus on what lessons I’ve learned and changes I will be making. (more…)

Farm Photo Friday: July 25, 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!


The Growing Season

photo 1_200by Caroline Hampton

The growing season is in full swing in the High Country of North Carolina, with summer crops in the ground and coming up. At this summer solstice time, it is exciting to watch the accelerated growth of crops from the long daylight hours, growing a noticeable amount daily. This month has been filled with planting and it is now time to seed fall crops. I enjoy admiring my mature crops in the field and watching the daily progress of plants recently transplanted or seeded. There is always something new to see and much of it is good. I have had very few problems with disease and insect damage up to this point. (more…)

Revitalizing Heirloom Grains in the Pacific Northwest

In appreciation of their support, we invite Rodale Institute Business Members to share an article about their work on our website. These articles often include insightful information based on their experience and line of work.  It provides a unique perspective of organic agriculture that we enjoy sharing with our readers. 

By Laurie Mooney, Landscape Design Specialist, Pacific Foods

In late fall 2012, a small container of the earliest wheat seed variety known to the Pacific Northwest was delivered to Chuck Eggert, founder of Pacific Foods of Oregon and farmer in the North Willamette Valley. The container was from Chuck’s longtime friend and associate, Dr. Richard Scheuerman. Richard is an associate professor of education and author of the book, Harvest Heritage: Puget Sound Heirloom Crops and Agricultural Orgins. As an advocate for cultivating heirloom grains and an author on the subject, Dr. Scheuerman was looking for help in preserving the seeds and conducting grain trials in their native region. Chuck and Pacific’s affiliated farms jumped at the chance to join him and have started experimenting with heirloom barley and oats in addition to wheat. All are winter crops, planted in the fall and harvested in summer.

Steeped in deep cultural and culinary tradition, heirloom grains were 19th century staple crops for indigenous people of the region. These grains are unique because unlike many crops today, they have remained genetically stable for thousands of years and are free of any GMO alteration. In addition, the grains have thicker bran layers and higher levels of important trace minerals, so the foods prepared from them have enhanced nutritional benefits.

Chuck values being a good steward of the land and supports a cultural heritage rooted in connectedness. Working closely with Dr. Scheuerman, Chuck has not only agreed to bring these seeds back into cultivation, but also to grow them using old world agrarian techniques and traditions.

White Lammas Wheat

Spring Wheat

The farms’ heirloom grain trials have primarily focused on a soft white winter wheat originally from England called “White Lammas.” It also goes by the nicknames “Hudson’s Bay” or “Old White Winter.” While the grain itself is a white wheat, the stalks are distinctly blue. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s been nicknamed “Pacific Bluestem,” though seed for that particular Lammas strain likely came from Australia in the mid-1800s. An Oregon farmer had kept this historic variety vital in the early 1900s. Nearly a century later, the same seeds landed in the hands of Dr. Scheuerman.

During the trials, the grain grew strong throughout the spring months. It seeded quickly and easily with nearly a 98% germination rate and little extra care. One benefit of growing crops like this heirloom wheat is a more efficient use of water. This is because grains like these in particular develop a deep tap root system and don’t require additional irrigation, ultimately resulting in production cost savings.

The staff at Pacific’s affiliated farms use a harvesting method that mimics those used in the early 1900’s. The wheat is harvested using a sickle blade, cutting a handful of grain at a time. It is then laid out for curing on propagation tables in greenhouses for at least two weeks. This process hardens the kernels to a point where they shatter easily and cannot be dented with your thumbnail. Then, the grain is separated. To do this, the grains are laid on a tarp and stomped over, a process known in pioneer days when used with horses as “treading out.” The remaining, separated seeds are transferred to buckets for winnowing.

The winnowing process used is also a back-to-basics method and completely manual. The seed is poured from one bucket to another, letting the breeze from a fan push the chaff off the grain. Using this technique, the team produces about five pounds of wheat in 30 minutes.



Barley & Oats

Pacific’s affiliated farms are also experimenting with some heirloom varieties of barley and oats. The barley, called “Scots Bere,” was originally cultivated as early as the 8th century by Viking colonizers in the northern British Isles and is still used by a small, dedicated group of farmers on Scotland’s Orkney and Shetland islands. The farms also grow two varieties of heirloom oats: Scottish Chief Oat and Palouse Wonder. These have a similar heritage to the barley, both deriving from Scotland.

The heirloom barley is a hardy six-row landrace and is highly regarded for use in both brewing beer and baking bread. Scots Bere, along with other similar varieties, was raised in the Willamette Valley until the 1870s. It is well acclimated to cooler coastal climates, making Pacific’s affiliated farms a perfect testing site for trials.

The team at the farms first harvested the heirloom barley in the summer of 2013. Once harvested, the barley was returned to Dr. Scheuerman who in turn shared it with Washington State University’s Bread Lab and craft brewers in the region. To extend his work, Dr. Scheuerman has recently launched a small business, Columbia Heritage Grain & Trading Company, which works with a group of Pacific Northwest organic farmers to grow heirloom grain varieties.

In the Pacific Northwest, and specifically the North Willamette Valley, nature takes its own course with average annual rainfall of almost 40 inches of rain per year – 80% of the rain coming during October through May. Laurie Mooney, Landscape Design Specialist for Pacific’s affiliated farms, and her team have found that the heirloom varietals they have been working with grow best in the North Willamette’s rich soil conditions and mild climate without needing irrigation.

The farms look forward to continuing to experiment with growing heirloom grains in the Willamette Valley, saving the seeds and sharing when possible.

Recommended Readings:
Harvest Heritage by Richard Scheuerman, Alexander C. McGregor and John Clement
The Book of Wheat, An Economic History and Practical Manual by Peter Tracy Dodlinger

Rodale Institute and St. Luke’s University Health Network Partner to Provide Organic Produce to to Patients, Staff and Visitors

St. LukesBETHLEHEM TWP, Pa. (7/17/14) — St. Luke’s Anderson Campus, in partnership with Rodale Institute, is one of the few hospitals in the nation to offer patients organic produce grown at an organic farm located on the hospital campus, the partners announced today.  In addition, organic produce is now available to the employees, visitors and caregivers to offer healthy options for health and healing through the hospital’s food services vendor, Sodexo Inc.

“Working with the Rodale Institute to develop an organic, working farm onsite will allow St. Luke’s to continue providing patients with a holistic health care experience that creates a positive atmosphere for health and healing,” said Ed Nawrocki, President, St. Luke’s Anderson Campus. “By providing patients with locally-grown organic produce, St. Luke’s is showing a commitment to the environment and promoting the health of its patients and the community.”

The farm at St. Luke’s will allow the network to raise community awareness about the importance of healthy eating and the impact of food choices on overall health and well-being.

“Numerous studies prove that organic fruits and vegetables offer many advantages over conventionally-grown foods, such as: increased amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which reduce incidence of heart disease and some cancers; and a lowered risk of common conditions such as cancer, heart disease, allergies and hyperactivity in children,” said Bonnie Coyle, MD, MS, Director of Community Health, St. Luke’s University Health Network.

Rodale Institute has developed a five acre tract into a produce farm on the 500 acre St. Luke’s Anderson Campus. St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm will offer organically grown local produce that will be distributed to all six St. Luke’s  hospitals to be used in daily food preparation by Sodexo Inc. for patients, as well as offered in the hospital cafeterias for staff and visitors.

As part of the partnership, Rodale Institute has provided St. Luke’s University Health Network with Lynn Trizna, an onsite organic vegetable farmer, to ensure the quality of the farm’s produce, follow organic farming practices and coordinate the produce deliveries with Sodexo for the St. Luke’s hospitals. Trizna is also responsible for transitioning the land to organic and overseeing the organic certification process with the USDA.

“Through the partnership between St. Luke’s University Health Network and the Rodale Institute, the farm will accomplish what was thought previously impossible, growing organic and nutritious food on site for hospital patients,” said Trizna. “The farm will act as an evolving model for institutions across the country as well as for farmers who have the knowledge but lack the resources to start their own farm. St. Luke’s Anderson Campus and the Rodale Institute are ‘planting a seed’ in sustainable and local food production,” she said.

Planting at the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm began this spring. Crops have already been harvested, said Trizna. The 1120 sq. ft. hoop house will provide an extended growing season, she said. St. Luke’s Auxiliary announced its support of the hoop house through fundraising efforts, and the hoop house was named after the Auxiliary.

“St. Luke’s Auxiliary is honored to support these efforts in providing a service to the community through organic produce farmed at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus,” said Kristina Warner, St. Luke’s Auxiliary President. “We are pleased to support the hoop house and this initiative allowing patients, staff and community members to make healthier eating choices and improve their lifestyle.”

The farm is equipped with refrigeration to store excess produce before it is transported to other locations. Some of the produce that will be planted at the farm includes lettuce and salad greens, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, Swiss chard, kale, garlic, cabbage, beets, potatoes and a wide variety of herbs.

During the first year, Rodale Institute expects to produce approximately 44,000 pounds of fresh produce on five acres. In the future, the farm is expected to double in size and is expected to produce nearly 100,000 pounds of produce, said “Coach” Mark Smallwood, Executive Director of Rodale Institute.

“In addition to providing patients, families and staff at the hospitals with fresh, organic produce, organic agriculture builds healthy soil,” said Smallwood. “Organic agriculture reduces pollution from run-off, prevents toxic chemicals from building up in our ecosystem and is a primary driver in carbon sequestration. This partnership presents a ‘farm to hospital’ model which can be replicated around the world. We’re proud to be proving concepts once thought impossible.”

For more information about the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Farm please visit www.sluhn.org/organicfarm.

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 percent higher. 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.

St. Luke’s Anderson Campus is one of six hospitals in the St. Luke’s University Health Network and is Pennsylvania’s newest, full-service health care facility. The campus is set against a serene, natural landscape conveniently located on Freemansburg Avenue, right off of Route 33.  State-of-the-art medical and surgical services are offered in three adjacent buildings – the main Hospital, the Medical Office Building and the Cancer Center.  Since the hospital’s opening in 2011, the campus has added walking paths, flower gardens and most recently employee community garden plots to develop the surrounding land in healthy, innovative and creative ways.  St. Luke’s University Health Network is a non-profit, regional, fully integrated and nationally recognized network providing services at more than 150 sites.  The network is the second largest employer in the Lehigh Valley region.

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Farm Photo Friday: July 18, 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!