Dig Deeper

Ask the Farmer: Expanding to a mechanized system

Rodale Institute Farm Director Jeff Moyer answers your questions.

Ben asks:

We are a small 50-acre farm with mostly woods and woodsy pasture. We are not organic certified, but practice organic methods. We have two gardens totaling roughly six to seven acres and are considering buying 100 acres of additional land connected to our farm to expand into other markets and opportunities.

We currently do hand cultivating, hand seeding, and hand transplanting, with the tractor used for plowing, rototilling, and soil prep things. We’d like to transition to machine cultivation, harvesting, etc. but there aren’t many farms around us that are in this transition period. We would like to remain as self-sufficient as possible. Can you provide any insight? If it’d be helpful, here are some of the things we wish to expand: field corn (10 acres), sweet corn (5-10 acres), carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and leeks. (more…)

Bloom Alert: June 11, 2014

Even though our tulips are no longer in bloom, there are still plenty of beautiful flowers to see here at the farm. While walking around today, some of the most striking flowers in bloom were these tiger lilies. Their vibrant orange color certainly brightened up this dreary week! We only have one cluster of lilies this year, however we planted a small patch that will be absolutely gorgeous for picking next year.

Another plant that is in full flower is our rhubarb. This vegetable is often used much like a fruit and is popular in desserts like pies, tarts and cakes, but did you know that its leaves are poisonous? They contain toxic levels of oxalic acid, which is why only the stalks are used in cooking and baking.

Although you can’t eat the leaves, they are still a valuable garden resource. If you boil the leaves in water for 15-20 minutes, let cool, strain, and put in a spray bottle, you will have a very effective organic insecticide for all leaf-eating insects (like cabbage worms)!

Bunches of rhubarb will be available in the Rodale Institute Garden Store
Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. –to 4 p.m. {VISIT}

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!

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

Love Life. Live Clean.

By Susan Griffin-Black, founder of Small World Trading Co.

When Brad and I started Small World Trading Co. in 1995, we weren’t thinking about changing the personal care industry. All we knew was that we loved essential oils and we wanted to make products that reflected our moderately wholesome, organic and natural lifestyle. Early on we discovered the challenges of making products the way we wanted to make them: beautiful, healthy, safe and gentle.

We wanted our products to be good for us, our customers and the planet, so we decided to create products from organically grown or wildcrafted plants. That was a challenge from day one. (more…)

Farm Photo Friday: June 6, 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!


Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen: A message to all the interns

By Maria Rodale
Reprinted with permission from Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen

The other day I found myself giving a teary retirement farewell to two people who’d worked at the Rodale Institute since the early 1970s…since I was an intern there! I hadn’t really prepared “remarks”—after all, it was just a good-bye cake. I hadn’t expected to get so emotional, either. But a few days later, as I was digging out some very persistent weeds from my garden, I got to thinking about that moment, and the room full of hopeful, new interns who had come for the cake. And, as is often the case when I’m working in the garden, this blog came to me…stemming from the wish that I had given said interns a bit of advice. (more…)

Ask the Farmer: Seeking organic land

Rodale Institute Farm Director Jeff Moyer talks about what is happening in our fields and yours.

Sal asks:

I have been searching for land for about five years now to start a small scale organic operation (actually, it will start out as home use only until I get the hang of it).  My concern is buying a piece of land that has had herbicide or pesticide used in the last few years. I would not want to have that incorporated into the food products (vegetable or animal). How can I remove these harmful agents over time? I was thinking of allowing the existing pastures to grow and then cut and dispose of the hay. Are there certain chemicals that I should be particularly aware of when looking at pastureland? (more…)

Getting kids to eat outside the box

By Lori Stansberry, Founder of Pure Sprouts

Often I go into schools and talk about the importance of eating healthy and what it means to be organic. I have this little exercise I do with kids that challenges them to connect the food source with the finished product (such as milk to a cow, ketchup to tomatoes, French fries to potatoes, etc.). It is always amazing how hard it is for most children to think this way because there is such a disconnect in our current food system between source and purchased products. It’s not necessarily a lack of caring, but it’s a lack of exposure to processes both on the farm and in the factory. (more…)

Farm Photo Friday: May 30, 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, we were very fortunate to host visiting photographer, Cory Treadway!!!  She was inspired to spend some time here at the farm – but most inspired by the ridiculously cute baby goats.  It was difficult, but we were able to pry her away from the kids to give her a tour of the farm and show her some of the other wonderful things we have going on.  The photos are amazing, thank you so much Cory – you are welcome back any time!!


Cracking the Big Food brick wall

By John Roulac

Some of the biggest news in the food industry this year is the come-to-Jesus moment of General Mills (GM) converting Cheerios to a non-GMO cereal. In January, GM announced that it would halt the use of genetically modified ingredients in original yellow-box Cheerios. This cultural milestone signals not only the swelling consumer exodus from industrial GMO foods, but also the rise of the use of social media by foodies to change the conversation.

The GMO Inside coalition (yes—full disclosure—I am co-founder and co-chair) started targeting Cheerios in 2012 for many reasons, including that the brand’s corporate parent, GM, was a large funder of “no” on California’s Prop 37, the failed right-to-know labeling campaign. In the following 14 months, GMO Inside got 50 thousand anti-GMO comments placed on the Cheerios Facebook wall. (more…)

From ASC to CSA

By Chris West

Editor’s Note: Follow Chris (former Rodale Institute intern and beginning farmer) each month as he keeps us up to date on the trials and tribulations of getting his farm up and running.

I never thought I’d find myself at Rodale Institute four years after graduating from college, but there I was on April Fools’ Day nonetheless moving my modest amount of belongings into a rustic stronghold of the Institute: the Siegfriedale house. The house, like the Institute, was brimming with character and unique little crannies to indulge any farmer’s or visitor’s interest. From that day forth it was a sweaty slope of hard work in the field and many hours of intense yet greatly appreciated air-conditioned workshops as an intern in the Agriculture Supported Communities (ASC) program. (more…)