Dig Deeper

Master Composters of Rodale Institute

"In the compost heap, a transformation from life to death and back again is taking place."  -J.I. Rodale

According to the US EPA, in the United States food wastes and yard debris represent approximately 45% of the garbage generated by Americans.

At the community level, composting is a cost effective means for managing organic wastes and IMG_4672diverting these wastes from the landfill. In addition to environmental and social benefits, backyard composting creates financial incentives by reducing trash collection fees. Part of the problem with implementing these basic themes into the community is a lack of educated personnel.

Through the Master Composters of Rodale Institute training program, we train individuals to become “Masters” of backyard composting, waste management, and outreach education with the goal of encouraging a wider adoption of organic waste composting.

See the program announcement here.


The training program will begin on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 and continue for six weeks on September 9, 16th, 23rd, 30th and October 2nd. Classes will be held on Wednesdays from 6-8 pm. The day and times for site visits will be discussed at the first class.

Program highlights:

  • ♦  The Master Composter Program will focus on the areas of composting, solid waste management, community outreach and education.
  • ♦  Topics discussed during the classes include compost biology, chemistry and physics, vermicomposting, compost systems and uses, and how composting fits into a larger picture of solid waste management.
  • ♦  Speakers include Coach Mark Smallwood, Rodale Institute Executive Director; Rick Carr, Rodale Institute Compost Production Specialist and additional Rodale Institute staff; Peter Hyde, ERM Group Foundation; and J.P. Mascaro and Sons
  • ♦  Site visits include JP Mascaro & Sons composting facility, materials recovery facility and landfill, City of Allentown Parks and Recreation operating facility, and Kutztown’s waste water treatment plant.

Who should apply:

The training program is open to all individuals who wish to become leaders in waste management and backyard composting in their respective communities. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older. Prior experience in composting, gardening or agriculture is not required.


All Master Composter trainees will be required to complete 40 hours of community service on projects or activities related to composting. Rodale Institute will provide numerous volunteer opportunities but trainees are encouraged to participate in self-directed outreach and education within their communities. Certification of completion will be delivered to trainees upon complete of volunteer service. In addition, each new graduate of the Master Composter program will be featured on Rodale Institute’s website to announce their completion of the program.


Registration is $300. To register for this class, click here. To complete a scholarship application, click here. For more information on the Master Composters of Rodale Institute, contact Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist at rick.carr@rodaleinstitute.org or by phone at 610-683-1415.

Farm Photo Friday: April 3, 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!


March really does come in like a lion and out like a lamb at Rodale Institute! Honey gave birth to tiny triplets just in time for spring. Look – the lambs are smiling in their sleep!


Mable wasn't far behind Honey. On Tuesday, she gave birth to two lambs! Welcome to the herd, little ones!


Everyone crowds around Dan Kemper, Strategic Support Team Member, as he demonstrates how to graft tomato plants. The purpose of tomato grafting is to combine the best qualities of two different tomato plants, one being the rootstock and the second being the top of a fruit-producing variety. The result: strong roots and abundant fruit yield!


Ross the Builder, Can we fix it? Ross the Builder, Yes We Can!


While the plants are having a major growth spurt, somebody has to make sure they stay hydrated!  Maggie Saska, Plant Production Specialist, is always on top of keeping the plants happy and healthy. Take some greens home with you next Friday and Saturday at our Annual Cold Crop Sale!


 Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, with the help of Michael Schmaeling, Facilities Team Member, are constructing another chicken coop. The chickens requested a summer home. Sorry chickens, we couldn't get you to the Hamptons, but Ross and Michael have built you a luxurious new cruise-coop! Learn how to keep your chickens happy at our Keeping Chickens workshop on April 25th.


Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist and Jesse Barrett, Organic Allentown Program Manager, have been outside all afternoon building vertical growing columns– just like the ones that will be popping up around Allentown this season for the Organic Allentown program!


Hey donkeys – quit horsing around!


Uh-oh. Looks like there's been some mischief – someone dug a few holes in the soil. If this were a game of Clue, we'd guess it was the cat, with a front paw, in the hoop house!


Xena and Houdini are having fun in the mud! A true pal will help clean off a muddy snout. At our Heritage Pastured Pigs workshop, you can learn more about these happy heritage hogs!


       Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, sneaks a cuddle with a piglet for just a second before it hurries back to its mother for food and comfort!


The farm shows no sign of the snow-smothered winter that has just passed. Stay tuned for more spring-inspired photos of the farm and Rodale Institute employees!

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


Calling all organic and transitioning organic farmers!

growing-towers-jpg-20150130Calling all organic and transitioning organic farmers! There is an exciting new opportunity to join two organic farmers markets in Allentown! Rodale Institute has partnered with the City of Allentown to launch Organic Allentown, a program which establishes a relationship between local organic farmers and the downtown residents of Allentown.

Some Allentown residents find limited access when purchasing fruits and vegetables. By pairing residents with organic farmers, the residents’ demands for adequate fruits and vegetables can be supported. Concurrently, the Organic Allentown program will implement purchasing incentives to encourage and empower the residents of Allentown to participate in the farmers markets. Such programs include SNAP benefits and offering fruit and produce coupons. Organic Allentown will also host food preparation and cooking classes as well as healthy eating initiatives to inspire residents to purchase and consume a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables.

Often, private grocers and store owners in urban environments do not supply perishable foods. Organic Allentown will work with local businesses to supply these items. While both Allentown farmers markets will satisfy demands weekly in two separate locations, convenience stores and bodegas will provide access to healthier food options on a daily basis.

Additionally, Organic Allentown is constructing an urban agriculture culture where Allentown residents can cultivate organic fruits and vegetables downtown! Since there is a potential for urban environments to harbor toxins and chemicals in the soil, Rodale Institute has developed a system of urban gardening to combat this. Through vertical growing columns, organic fruits and vegetables can be grown above contaminated soil. Maintaining the vertical gardens will present a distinct experience for Allentown residents to participate in the gardening of organic produce in their community.

If you are a practicing organic farmer, or are currently working towards your organic certification, joining Organic Allentown will provide a unique opportunity to build a relationship with Allentown, its residents, and Rodale Institute.

For more information on participating as a vendor in the farmers markets, please contact the Organic Allentown Program Farmers Market Manager, Jesse Barrett, at jesse.barrett@rodaleinstitute.org. We look forward to hearing from you!



Farm Photo Friday: March 27, 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!


Miss Peggy had a surprise for everyone on Monday! Over the weekend, she gave birth to six precious, pint-sized piglets. Nothing says "spring" like new born piglets!


Hungry and happy, the piglets don't stray far from mom's side!


Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, and Mark Fabian and Michael Schmaeling, Facility Team Members, worked hard to build this beautiful custom home for the piglets and Miss Peggy.


Even though it's spring and the weather is warming up, the piglets still need to snuggle close together next to mom to stay warm.

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Michael Schmaeling, Facilities Team Member, is giving this little piggy some hugs and head scratches!


Mom's keeping close watch over her piglets! These little guys are looking happy and healthy!


Vogue! This little piggy strikes his first pose! Little does he know that there will be many more photo shoots to come!


Houdini thinks he's just as cute as the little piglets. What do you think? Come learn more about Houdini and our other pigs at Rodale Institute's Heritage Pastured Pigs: Help your hogs help your profits workshop on May 2nd.


The tulips are blooming just in time for their debut at our Spring Thaw plant sale event tomorrow, Saturday March 28th!


Cynthia James, Agriculture Supported Communities (ASC) Program Manager, is planting celeriac over in the greenhouse! Celeriac is a variety of celery that forms a large, swollen celery root. It grows fairly large and is delicious roasted or in soups! By the way, we're still accepting applications for internships with our ASC program!


Keeping guard of the chicken coop is a very important job! Be sure not to miss Keeping Chickens: Get the scoop inside the coop workshop on April 25th!


It looks like Mr. Tuggs needs an opponent in his game of backyard soccer!


Irwin is hiding out in the donkey shed and it seems like Mr. Tuggs is saying, "lace up your cleats and get on the field!"


What did the sheep say to the other sheep?
"Hey, where'd the goats go?"


We found the goats and they've moved to greener pastures! This little guy has some show-stopping eyes, don't you think?


From our backyard to yours, come learn how to keep your own bees at Rodale Institute's Backyard Hobby Beekeeping: Healthy bees mean healthy honey workshop on April 18th and 19th!

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

Farm Photo Friday: March 20, 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!


A muddy nose is a happy nose! Athena just found some mud beneath the melting snow and this means no more weeks of winter!


Athena found mud, but it looks like Xena and Houdini may have found something as well! What do you think they found? True love, perhaps? If you love pigs, register now for our upcoming workshop, Heritage Pastured Pigs: Help your hogs help your profits.


Sometimes it's important to pause and simply appreciate the beauty and magnetism of nature.


Michael Schmaeling, Facilities Team Member, gives Mr. Tuggs and Irwin some personal attention. Michael says that they both love to give hugs!


"Dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge!" If you can dodge a net, you can dodge a ball. The chickens are making a run for it today, but the crew is hot on their tails. If you're interested in raising your own chickens, register to come out for our Keeping Chickens: Get the Scoop Inside the Coop workshop in April!


Chicory, the Nigerian Dwarf Goat stands on a furry rock to get a better view of the crew running and diving to catch the chickens!


Wait, that's no furry rock! That's Honey the sheep! As it turns out, sheep make very good step stools. Friends let friends stand on their backs to get a better view!


Dan Kemper, Strategic Support Team Member, and Maggie Saska, Plant Production Specialist, are busy yet again in their home away from home - the green house! Everything you see to the left is being prepared for sale to restaurants and markets, and for plant sales at the Rodale Institute Store. Everything to the right is for ASC.


Adding to the collection, Dan transplants some lettuce - future featured items for our plant sales! Be sure not to miss the big Spring Thaw: Organic Flowers for your Holiday Table event on March 28th!


Clark decided to make a silly face for his close-up. He's glad that he can now lay on soft straw instead of the icy snow!


Can you spot some differences between Lewis and Clark? This photographer can spot three. How many did you find? Leave your answers in the comment space below!


We have a new face on the farm! Everyone say hello to Jesse Barrett, Organic Allentown Program Manager. Here he plants seeds which, when sprouted, will be transplanted into vertical growing towers as a part of the Organic Allentown project.


Get ready to burry your nose in some great books! The Rodale Institute Book Club is a great opportunity for you to connect with people who share the same passion about human and environmental health! Starting up again in May, it is a 6 month book club that is in it's third season!


Okay, maybe we spoke too soon. Maybe one more day of winter...

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

Farm Photo Friday: March 13, 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 this Friday morning! It seems the chickens are basking in the sun – even they need a spring break!


"Shut the blinds – I'm still sleeping!" We know that feeling, Mr. Tuggs, but the weekend is right around the corner!

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Lauren Cichocki, Animal Husbandry Coordinator, is deconstructing  a coop that is no longer in use. For the complete "scoop inside the coop," check out our chicken keeping workshop on how to raise and keep healthy chickens!


Lynn Trizna, Rodale Institute St. Luke’s Organic Farm project manager, is paying a visit to the greenhouse to check on the progress of the onions. They're in great shape, making Lynn do anything but cry!


Like these organic potted tulips, our excitement for spring is growing bigger and bigger! The flowers will poke their heads up any day now. Find one to take home or give as a gift at Rodale Institute's Spring Thaw event on March 28!

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It's sunny and the snow is slowing melting. What better day to spend outside caring for cows? Dr. Hubert Karreman, Adjunct Staff Veterinarian here at Rodale Institute, is in the middle of giving a bovine health lesson during one of his classes.


Meanwhile at the Garden Store, shelves are stocked with new books inspiring us to grab our gloves and get gardening! Rodale Institute can help you start your own at the Organic Gardening workshop on March 21!

How will these cows spend their weekend? This photographer suggests they have a moooovie night!

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

What you eat can truly change your life

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 Shari Leidich, founder of Two Moms in the Raw

Lately, the Colorado weather has been like my fast approaching journey to menopause. One day warm and lovable, the next day dipping into single digits and wanting to take out a person or two. Even though I go to yoga and eat well I still have a problem with that person at the gym who places her bench right near mine when the room is empty! Am I wrong?

Shari and her family, enjoying some delicious raw treats!

Shari and her family, enjoying some delicious raw treats!

I often wonder the change in temperature and impact of the barometric pressure on my hormones and am ever so thankful to have the tools I need to stay balanced (90%, no 80%, okay, 75% of the time). Don’t judge! My arsenal of self-care begins with sleep, exercise and feeding me and my family clean, organic foods.

Fortunately for my company, there are organizations like the Rodale Institute that support organic and make it easy for Two Moms to source ingredients. The organic certification process is an amazing practice we have in place in our country. From the soil and the farmers, to the processing and handling facilities, there are strict rules set forth to ensure all foods that carry the organic label are the best of the best. Without the Rodale Institute’s persistent and pioneering efforts in organic farming, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

I’m a mom of three, an entrepreneur and a big believer in organic and raw foods. In 2004, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and suddenly went from exercising and hiking daily, to barely being able to hold a pen. Through research, I found that a natural approach to healing – including an organic and raw foods diet – worked best for me and helped me control my MS symptoms.

I couldn’t find any tasty on-the-go raw snacks, so I created my own and Two Moms in the Raw was born in 2006. Like our ingredients, our business has truly grown organically – from Boulder, Colorado’s Farmer’s Market to distribution in national stores like Whole Foods Market. Today, we are a growing and successful company that makes 100% organic, Non-GMO, raw, sprouted, vegan and gluten-free delicious snacks including: granola bars, nut bars, truffles, crackers and grain free cereal.

What you eat can truly change your life – it certainly did mine. After being diagnosed with MS, diet became my savior and today, I am symptom-free. Without pioneering organizations like Rodale Institute who help assure that organic foods are readily available, I know I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am today. Now, I feel like the lucky one since I get to help make healthy, organic, nutritionally-dense, tasty snacks available to everyone!

Did you know that raw foods (like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) are alive? You can plant them, and they will grow! So, of course, we should be putting “live” foods in our mouths to help our bodies thrive and grow. Also, at Two Moms in the Raw, we soak, sprout and rinse many of our ingredients to further maximize their nutritional benefits. It’s a really neat process and we feel like we do it all day long since we source and sprout a lot of organic almonds – 100,000 pounds annually! We also source and sprout 26,700 pounds of organic millet annually from a local Colorado company. And, we sprout 154,000 pounds of organic gluten-free oat groats annually for our granola bars. Oat groats provide the body with a complex source of carbohydrates and help clean the gut as they are high in soluble fiber.

Like the Rodale Institute, we believe in improving the health and well-being of people. We know our products are good for you and good for the planet, and these two things keep us excited about the work we do every day. Now, enjoy spring, get out in your garden, start growing some sprouts and fuel your body with some healthy, organic fuel. And, of course, when all else fails blame it on the weather!

Meet Shari Leidich

Shari Leidich is the founder of Two Moms in the Raw, a family-run company that makes raw, sprouted, 100% organic, gluten-free granola bars, nut bars, sea crackers, and truffles. Two Moms in the Raw snacks have been singled out by Outside, Vegetarian Times, and Delicious Living. Shari lives in Colorado with her husband, Greg, and her three children.


Spring Thaw: Organic flowers for your holiday table


By Sabrina Mastronardo, Communications Intern

Spring is at our doorstep, which means packing away heavy snow gloves, wiping dust off the windowsills, and experimenting with springtime-inspired recipes. With the sunny season in mind, it is time to cure the winter “blahs” and freshen up our lives. Whether you look forward to revamping home décor, eating more organic food, or spending time in the garden, Rodale Institute is here to help brighten your season!

We’re hosting the “Spring Thaw” event on March 28 to kick-off the celebration of warmer days. Located at our Garden Store, the free-admission event features a DIY organic flower arranging station to make and purchase beautiful creations for your holiday table. Come to sample a variety of organic foods, fruit mustards, nut butters, and other fresh ingredients. Organic potted tulips, seeds, and brand new books will also be available.

The Spring Thaw is a fun time to grow your excitement for the season. “It’s a gathering to celebrate the start of the spring season and get into the gardening mode,” says Sales and Marketing Specialist Molly Sweitzer.

Bring your friends and family and join us from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday, March 28. For more details, visit the Spring Thaw event page on the Rodale Institute website:  http://rodaleinstitute.org/event-registration/?ee=122


Pruning Organic Apple Trees

Pruning Organic Apple Trees
By Heather Kaiser, Rodale Institute Intern

“What’s all the commotion about pruning?“


Pruning your fruit trees every winter is essential, but when exactly should you begin pruning? What is the correct way to prune? And how often should they be pruned? Since 1981, we have been researching the best methods for organic apple orcharding here on our research farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Our researchers have developed decades of data on the science behind organic apple production, including pruning.


The best time to prune your fruit trees is right after the coldest part of winter is over, which is now! Pruning is important because it removes the dead and damaged branches from the tree; this helps prevent insects and decay from entering and infecting the tree. Pruning also helps to stimulate the growth and development of fruit buds. Since pruning is so important to the trees growth, it is crucial to learn the correct way to prune and which tools to use. After this cold and snowy winter, trees are under a lot of stress from the weight of snow and ice. These branches are weighed down and can break under the amount of stress. Pruning prevents these weaker branches from breaking and harming the rest of the tree.


On March 14, Rodale Institute is holding a fruit tree pruning workshop where you will learn how to prune with the correct tools and then be able to walk through our apple orchard and practice your new skill!

For more information and to register, visit the Organic Orchards I: Fruit tree pruning for pest and disease control workshop page on the Rodale Institute website.  We can’t wait to see you there!

Farm Photo Friday: March 6, 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!


Dan Kemper, Strategic Support Team Member, and Maggie Saska, Plant Production Specialist, are onion seeding over in the greenhouse. These onion seeds aren't making them cry now, but just wait until they are ready to be harvested and cut!

The greenhouse is filling up with all sorts of good stuff! We can't wait for all of the seeds to sprout! Can you guess what's growing here?


Sparks were flying over in the metal shop where Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, is repairing a part from a combine. This icy weather is perfect for catching up on repairs and making sure everything is in tip-top shape for spring.


Bill Lenhard, Strategic Solutions Team Members, and Matt Boyer, were having fun while working. You know what they say about all work and no play!


Lewis and Clark are sheltering themselves from the freezing rain because they don't want their hair to frizz!


Lefty is the purrrfect VIP to feature this week! You can find him roaming around the farm making sure everyone is doing their job. Even the cats have specific jobs here on the farm-they help to scare away the mice.


 Athena is such a camera hog, but who could resist snapping a photo of that cute nose! If you want to learn more about this friendly face, sign up for our Heritage Pastured Pigs class in May!

bee boxes

Michael Schmaeling broke out his artistic side and painted these bee boxes with a great honeycomb design! Maybe Michael should change his job title from Facilities Team Member to Facilities Craft Manager. If these bee boxes spark your interest, sign up for our Backyard Hobby Beekeeping workshop in April!


Our organic icicles are  just about ready to be harvested!

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