Dig Deeper


Radish recipes from our Agriculture Supported Communities program.

Braised Radish
From Rachael Ray and the Food Network

2 bunches radishes, about 1 pound, trimmed of tops and roots
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Place radishes in a skillet with stock, butter bits, shallots, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover
the pan and bring to a boil. Uncover the pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook radishes 10 to 12
minutes and if the stock has not cooked away, remove radishes and cook down to 1/2 cup,
about 2 minutes. Then toss syrupy liquid with radishes and serve.


Did you try out one of these recipes? Leave a comment below on how
you liked it and whether or not you made adjustments!



‘Walk for an Organic Planet’ Schedule Announced

Rodale Institute Director Begins  160 Mile Walk from PA to Washington, D.C. 

(Kutztown, PA  October 1, 2014) On October 1, 2014, Rodale Institute Executive Director, 'Coach' Mark Smallwood set out on a 160 mile walk from the Institute's farm in Kutztown, PA, to Washington, D.C. Smallwood is set to arrive in Washington, D.C., on October 16th after walking an average of 10 miles per day for 16 days. On arrival in the capitol he will hand deliver a recent study from the Institute which identifies regenerative organic agriculture as a solution for reversing climate change.

"We were there at the People's Climate March in New York City," said Smallwood.  "But what's happening now? The media has moved on to the next story. People are back to business as usual. I'm walking to keep up the pressure and sound the call for an organic planet. It's the best option we have for reversing climate change."

Addressing the United Nations on Tuesday, President Barack Obama acknowledged the march saying, "Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them. We have to answer the call."

Rodale Institute's study,"Regenerative Organic Agriculture & Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming," states that reversing climate change is possible through simple photosynthesis and healthy soil biology. If all agricultural land on Earth were transitioned to reflect regenerative organic principles, crop lands would capture 40% of annual emissions, and graze lands would capture 71%. Together, they would represent 111% of annual emissions, capturing all current greenhouse gases that we emit annually and beginning to draw down excess carbon from the atmosphere. Reversal of climate change has not been a topic of discussions between global leaders who have settled for goals to simply reduce the amount of carbon added to the atmosphere every year.

"It's simple.  It's fourth grade science, with no downside. The global transition to an organic planet is already underway, it's happening now. The organic movement is stronger than ever with growth that far exceeds conventional agriculture," said Smallwood.

Anyone interested in walking with Coach may visit Rodale Institute's website, which will feature daily updates on the progress of the Walk for an Organic Planet and a schedule of all events scheduled for the Walk.

Those interested in following the Walk for an Organic Planet more closely are encouraged to sign up for email updates through the Institute's website and follow the Walk on the Institute's social media channels.

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.

Important links:





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.


How the NOSB Gets Technical

By guest blogger Lindsay Fernandez-Salvador, OMRI Technical DirectorOMRI

Twice a year, organic certifiers, materials enthusiasts, and various farmer, processor and consumer representatives meet with government agents and a volunteer advisory board to participate in the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. The meeting location rotates, roughly appearing on the east side of the country every fall and the west side every spring, in order to engage stakeholders from around the country. The upcoming meeting October 28-30 in Louisville, KY[i] promises to be exciting, with a comprehensive agenda and new decision making procedures[ii]. But how does this volunteer board even begin to tackle the large and sometimes controversial issues that they face when attempting to define “organic”? The answer is that the group relies heavily on both stakeholder involvement and third-party technical reports for individual substances to guide their decision making.

The board consists of subcommittees and working groups that meet throughout the year to prepare various proposals for vote by the full board. Proposals focus on a wide range of issues, including policy recommendations, procedural changes, and proposals for new standards such as aquaculture and pet food that are not currently addressed by the USDA organic regulations. Final proposals are then forwarded to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) for consideration and potential rulemaking or guidance. Another major part of NOSB work consists of maintaining and reevaluating the list of materials allowed in organic production, including farming, livestock care, and processing materials. This “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Materials” (National List[iii]) details all of the exceptions to the organic grower’s basic rule of thumb: ‘yes’ to nonsynthetic or natural substances, and ‘no’ to synthetics.

The basic rule is great, and it holds for most situations, but here at OMRI we know all too well how this distinction can get sticky. Do we really want arsenic in organic farms? It is natural, but also dangerously toxic. Most feel it belongs on the prohibited list, where it has lived since the National Organic Standards were implemented in 2002. How about newspaper? It does contain synthetic binders and inks, but it is free, is in abundant supply, and composts readily. Many would agree that when it comes to weed control, newspaper can be a farmer’s best friend. For these reasons, newspaper was thoroughly evaluated[iv] in 2006 and subsequently added to the National List as an allowed synthetic. NOSB debate and discussion about these exceptions can be long and arduous, but in the end there is stakeholder input, open deliberation, and transparent decision making – all elements that contribute to a clear and balanced organic standard.

In order to ensure that decisions are well thought out and current research is considered, the NOP contracts technical advisors and researchers to author “Technical Reports,” each a complete overview of a given substance with regard to how it meets the following criteria from the Organic Foods Production Act:

♦  Potential of the substance for detrimental chemical interactions with other materials used in organic farming systems;
♦  Toxicity and mode of action of the substance and of its breakdown products or any contaminants, and the persistence and areas of concentration in the environment;
♦  Probability of environmental contamination during manufacture, use, misuse or disposal of such substance;
♦  Effect of the substance on human health;
♦  Effects of the substance on biological and chemical interactions in the agroecosystem, including the physiological effects of the substance on soil organisms (including the salt index and solubility of the soil), crops and livestock;
♦  Alternatives to using the substance in terms of practices or other available materials; and
♦  Compatibility with a system of sustainable agriculture.

In 2011, the National Organic Program held a competitive bid process that resulted in the selection of  three organizations, including OMRI, that may be commissioned to produce Technical Reports. Since then, a number of reports have been requested and produced, including several reports recently released to inform discussion and voting on fruit waxes (Carnauba Wax[v], Orange Shellac[vi] and Wood Rosin[vii]), microorganisms[viii] and yeast[ix]. The latter two reports focus quite a bit on how cultures are produced, the media used, and any ancillary substances that may be included as part of the packaging and delivery method.

Technical Reports are public documents, and they are frequently used well beyond the NOSB process to inform certifier decision making, NOP policy, and input review. Recently, the NOP has been engaged in a consolidated effort to proactively produce updated reports for many future discussions on the docket. If you are interested in or knowledgeable about an upcoming topic on the NOSB agenda, you might consider reviewing the corresponding technical report[x] before you submit comments. Although the reports are comprehensive, they are not intended as a substitute for know-how. Experienced farmers and food processors, as well as input suppliers, are encouraged to also take part in the discussion. Check the information web page for each individual meeting[xi] to find updates and information about how to submit written or oral comments. Meeting pages are updated on an ongoing basis, and instructions for submitting comments are generally posted within 45 days of the meeting.

[i] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateJ&navID=FindMeetingInformationNOSBHome&rightNav1=FindMeetingInformationNOSBHome&topNav=&leftNav=NationalOrganicProgram&page=NOSBMeetings&resultType=&acct=nosb

[ii] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5105096

[iii] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateJ&leftNav=NationalOrganicProgram&page=NOPNationalList&description=National%20List%20of%20Allowed%20and%20Prohibited%20Substances&acct=nopgeninfo

[iv] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5088918

[v] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5107943

[vi] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5107942

[vii] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5107941

[viii] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5108711

[ix] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5107940

[x] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateJ&navID=PetitionDatabaseNOSBHome&rightNav1=PetitionDatabaseNOSBHome&topNav=&leftNav=&page=NOPNationalList&resultType=&acct=nopgeninfo

[xi] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateJ&navID=FindMeetingInformationNOSBHome&rightNav1=FindMeetingInformationNOSBHome&topNav=&leftNav=NationalOrganicProgram&page=NOSBMeetings&resultType=&acct=nosb

The war against pests, diseases, and weeds

By guest blogger Caroline Hampton

For a farmer, the summer months mean war. Every vegetable that is grown, every bite that a consumer takes, has been fought for by a farmer. In July and August, I’ve had to battle against pests, diseases, and weeds. The warmer weather means that pest insects and animals are reproducing, and often insects will have several generations of offspring before cold weather hits and knocks back the population. Here in the High Country, our sWeed management toolsummers are often very wet, and the ample rain has provided the perfect opportunity for weeds to thrive and disease to take hold.

Since this is my first year farming independently, creating a pest and disease management plan is new to me. In the past, as a farmworker, I have been mostly unaware of the spray regimen that the farmers I worked for followed, or if they had a spray regimen. There are many sprays that are approved for organic growing that I use on my farm. These sprays are derived from natural rather than synthetic ingredients and break down readily in the environment, so they don’t become a persistent problem for non-target insects and don’t leave residues that harm the consumer.

Though using sprays to control pests and diseases is normal and often necessary, like many farmers that I respect, I began farming with the idea that I would not spray anything, ever, and optimistically believed I could manage field conditions enough to keep my plants healthy and mostly disease and pest free. The realization that I, and many other farmers, had to come to is that the choice to spray is often a matter of having a crop or not, and for many of us, not having a crop means not making money, and is not an option. It’s also hard to stomach crop failure, and when you’ve grown a plant from a seed, and taken care of it for weeks, intervention in its demise seems like the obvious choice.

My farm has been affected by many of the usual pests- flea beetles, squash bugs, potato beetles, cucumber beetles, and cabbage worms. Use of sprays like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a soil bacterium, and neem oil, have been helpful respectively as a means of population control, and as a pest deterrent. Many of our pest populations seem to have been reduced this year, or had a late start due to our cold winter. The harlequin beetle has been particularly bothersome, targeting crops in the broccoli family, and though most of my spring cold crops were harvested before the onslaught, I have kept kale growing through the summer, and have spent time knocking the red beetles off the plants, then squishing them between my fingers. I admit that at the beginning of the season, I felt squeamish about squishing insects, and then once I got used to squishing soft insects, I still was unnerved by the crunch of a hard beetle shell. But out of necessity, I have learned to speed down a row, squishing efficiently, though I may cringe a little bit.

Sometimes cultural practices can make all the difference with pest control. The land that we grow on has quite a large japanese beetle population, something that is hard to remedy because the larvae live through the winter in the soil, and come out again the next year. Japanese beetles especially like fruits and flowers, so they attacked our grape trellises, our flowers, like my zinnias, and also my basil. Interestingly, I found that after the beetles had been damaging my basil for weeks, when areas around the basil were weed whacked so there were no high stands of weeds near the basil, they left the basil alone. All in all, my experiences with pest insects have led me to educate myself on pests and pest prevention and determent, and despite pest pressure, most crops have remained productive.

Disease has been a big disappointment and wake up call for me this season. When moving up here, I was told that the wet summers often make for tomato crop failure, but coming from the Piedmont, I’ve had a love for the many varieties, and an obsession with eating fresh summer tomatoes. I decided I would at least plant enough tomatoes for myself to enjoy, and that turned into planting about 200 plants. I was warned that the plants need quite a bit of room between them for airflow, so I thinned my planting so that it was about 100 plants, spaced two to three feet apart. Up here, because of the moisture, it is advised to spray tomatoes for blight starting soon after planting, on rougly a weekly basis, rotating the spray used between several different products. July was a very wet month, with rain almost daily, and low nighttime temperatures mean that even when there is not rain, the leaves of the tomatoes will be wet with dew. This is the ideal condition for blight, a fungus that travels by spores in the air, and my tomatoes were infected near the end of July, before any fruit had turned red. The disease infected and killed all of the plants within about a week. I spent a lot of money on infrastructure for my tomato trellising this year, buying t posts between which I strung the tomatoes. To have a total crop failure means no return on that investment, at least for this year.

With the constant moisture, my cucumbers also ended up with downy mildew, another fungal disease. They continue to produce, but their yields are diminished, something that is sad to see after the vines were so thick with yellow blossoms that promised a bounty of fruit. Solutions for this include using sprays to control and prevent downy mildew next year, possibly trellising cucumbers in the future instead of letting them vine on the ground, and staggering multiple plantings. I also have to decide whether it is worth it to me to plant tomatoes or cucumbers, two crops that are common at our farmer’s market. I believe it may be worth it to leave the tomatoes to larger farmers, who most importantly can grow tomatoes in hoop houses, covered and protected from rain. Finding funding for a hoop house for the Farmer Incubator and Grower (F.I.G.) property where I farm would be very beneficial for all of our producers. Plants could be set out earlier in spring, and crops would be protected from the elements, rain being the most damaging to crops in our area.

I assure myself as Fall officially approaches, that the season is downhill from here. I have planted a large crop of fall brassicas and seeded spinach, carrots, lettuces, arugula that are all sprouting. I hope to seed a few more crops that will hopefully be successful this fall and won’t be hit with an early freeze. Spending my days out in my fields, I am always reminded that this work is a gamble, and a struggle.Agricultural work is a reminder that to build something takes a long time. Hard work and experience will aid in my success, but conditions change every season, every month, every day in farming. For now, I am hooked to the pleasure and willing to endure the pain.


 Turnip recipes from our Agriculture Supported Communities program.

Mashed Root Vegetables with Horseradish
Adapted from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 ½ pounds potatoes
¼ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh horseradish or drained bottled horseradish

Cook turnips in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 –inch pieces.

Add potatoes to pot and boil until all vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes more.

Meanwhile, heat cream, butter, and horseradish (to taste) in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture is hot. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Drain vegetables, return to pot, and heat over high heat, shaking pot, until any excessliquid has evaporated, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and our cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into vegetables; press hard on solids for more horseradish flavor if desired. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mash vegetables with a potato masher until smooth, with some small pieces remaining. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Serves 4


To Braise and Glaze Turnips
Adapted from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl

Peel the turnips and cut into 8 wedges each. (If using smaller turnips, cut them into quarters.) Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan, add the turnips, 1 cup chicken broth or water, 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the turnips are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the turnips to a bowl with a slotted spoon and boil the cooking liquid until reduced to a glaze, about 3 to 4 tablespoons. Return the turnips to the pan and simmer until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh parsley, then serve.

Walk for An Organic Planet

Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported our Walk for an Organic Planet.  Coach made it to DC on October 16th and attended meetings with staff from Senator Jeff Merkley’s office and the following individuals from USDA:

♦  Betsy Rakola, USDA Organic Policy Advisor
♦  Bill Hohenstein, USDA Climate Change Programs
♦  Rich Iovanna, Farm Service Agency Conservation Programs
♦  Lindsay Haines, NRCS Organic and Soil Health Initiatives
♦  Steven Mirsky, Agricultural Research Service
♦  Mat Ngouajio, NIFA Organic Program Directors’ Research Proceedings

We look forward to continuing to share information about our research on regenerative organic agriculture and climate change.

And, stay tuned... Coach is already planning next year's Walk!

The Rodale Institute has proven that regenerative organic agriculture can reverse climate change. Regenerative organic agriculture can actually capture even more carbon than we currently emit into the atmosphere. By working with nature to use photosynthesis and healthy soil biology, we can draw down greenhouse gases and tip the needle past 100% to reverse climate change.

Beginning October 1st, Coach is walking 162 miles – from the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA to Washington, D.C. to hand deliver our report to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.


To bring much-needed awareness to both the general public and lawmakers that organic agriculture is the answer to reversing climate change.

How can you help?

Donate $1 per mile. Total: $162.
♦ Virtually join us on the walk by following Rodale Institute on facebook, twitter and Instagram.
♦ Help us share our vision for an organic planet. Click here for a document of fully crafted updates for all of your social networks.

Click here to watch a very short video and donate.

Help us support the new research our paper calls for. Lend us your voice and spread this vision for an organic planet. There is hope. We can reverse climate chaos through regenerative organic farming. And the time to do it is now.

Click here to read news about the walk


Farm Photo Friday: September 26th, 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!  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!

Special thanks to this week's guest contributor, Bill Noll, photographer extraordinaire and master of helpful stuff. He came to our Organic Apple Festival on Saturday and took these amazing shots. Thank you Bill!!




















Don’t forget… Show your organic love!


Farm Photo Friday: September 19, 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!  Special thanks to our intern, Julie Kelly for the wonderful photo contributions.  Great job Julie!


Organic Apple Festival is almost here!!!  Here is some of the team culling apples for delicious organic apple cider.


Aren't you impressed with our pumpkin parking lot?  When you get here tomorrow and park your car, you purchase your pumpkins promptly and put them into your parked vehicle.  You're now prepared to peruse the balance of the Festival's offerings!


Pumpkin parking lots don't prepare themselves!  The team has been working hard to make sure your Organic Apple Festival experience is top notch!


It's plain to see they take pleasure in their work.


Moving on to the main event, our 1,100 organic apple trees are ready for all those apple lovers who will come from far and wide tomorrow...  Our baskets and pickers are ready too!


One more mow in preparation for the thousands of feet walking through the orchard tomorrow!


Aren't these Macintosh cultivars magnificent?  Eat them fresh, bake with them, make apple sauce, apple butter, or our personal favorite...


Organic Apple Cider!  Enjoy all this and a whole lot more at tomorrow's Organic Apple Festival, here at the Rodale Institute farm in Kutztown, PA.

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Farm Photo Friday: September 12, 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!


It's a very special time of year here at the Institute!  Such deep reds and pinks, it's almost as if the plants are trying talk to us!  Plumose Celosia also come in yellow, orange, and pink.


Julie Kelly, one of our summer interns, working at the store folding shirts, getting ready for a big weekend of sales, and then the Organic Apple Festival on Saturday the 20th!!!


You may have heard by now that Coach is walking to Washington, D.C.


From Rodale Institute's farm in Kutztown, it's 162 miles.  He leaves October 1st.  He's in training now!


Why?  We're raising money to help farmers transition to regenerative organic practices so they can reverse climate change.


Zinnia are easy to grow and if you 'dead head' them they continue to bloom!  That does not mean you should play them 'Scarlet Begonia' on repeat...


We relocated a few pigs this week so they could root through some corn stubble in another area of the farm.


It looks like they've come what they came to do here.  Ready to move on to new pastures.


Do any of us ever really knows what the future holds?  Yet we must keep looking ahead.


Lauren Cichocki starts the process of winding up the fence so it can be moved to the new hog spot.


Ross Duffield has prepared the trailer and the hogs are all ready to get going.


Isis always falls asleep in the car, no matter how short the ride.


Success!  It's not always this easy to move pigs.  If you don't believe us, check out some of the older editions of Farm Photo Friday!


Switchback Pizza was here this week making delicious pizzas.  The pizzas are nice and hot, fresh out of their brick oven, but their crew is just too cool!  We hope to see you all again soon!


We harvested our beautiful sunflowers this week.  Next year we will plant a bit later so they are in full bloom for the Organic Apple Festival!


So here is what we do.  We cut a hole through the stub, put some string through.  It's an automatic bird-feeder!  We be selling them at Organic Apple Festival - so don't miss it!!!

Don’t forget… Show your organic love!

Fiddlehead Farms – How to build a root washer

1344364020_a892b33f5e07Fiddlehead Farms is a small, family farm located in beautiful Corbett, Oregon.Since becoming certified organic, Fiddlehead Farm has seen a huge demand for their certified organic vegetables - in particular carrots and beets.  They now find themselves on the precipice of being able to transform their small farm into a financially profitable business.

To meet the local demand for their organic vegetables, they often process hundreds of pounds of root vegetables a week, a labor intensive process.  The Rodale Institute Your 2 Cent grant program helped Fiddlehead Farm purchase a barrel style root washer.  This wooden cylinder cleans crops by jostling them as they are sprayed with powerful jets of water. This equipment will help them realize the full potential of their family farm, allowing them to focus on expanding their operation and getting products to new markets.

Watch this video and learn how they built their root washer!