Our orchard was planted in the 1980s to research best practices for growing apples organically.

The project was initially met with skepticism, since it is notoriously difficult to grow apples without chemicals in the East, where growers face twice as many diseases as growers out West and no fewer than 60 pests.

Despite the difficulties, we’ve successfully grown a wide variety of apples without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and we continue to produce quality organic fruit today.

What We Grow

Our orchards contain a diverse selection of apple varieties—about 30 in total. All our apples are in the McIntosh family. Since they are grown for research, our varieties have a number rather than a name. That means you won’t find them in the grocery store!

Combating pests and diseases naturally

Over 40 pests and at least 10 diseases threaten apples each season. Some of these include the plum curculio, apple maggot, codling moth, oriental fruit moth, scale, apple scab, sooty blotch, and fly speck. To combat these threats, we use the following methods:

Physical Barriers

We spray pulverized kaolin clay mixed with water onto our trees. This organic-approved material helps protect the apples from insect damage and sunburn. Yes, apples can get sunburn!

Disrupting Mating

During their mating period, female pests release pheromones that signal their locations to males. We release controlled quantities of those same pheromones into the orchard, confusing the males and interfering with the ability of the insects to reproduce.

Beneficial Predators

Organic agriculture relies on beneficial insects, certain birds, and other animal predators like bats to naturally reduce pest populations. We invite bats to our farm by building bat houses. A single bat can eat 1,000 insects in a night!

Apple Facts

  • There are more than 7,500 apple varieties grown throughout the world

  • Only about 100 varieties are grown commercially in the U.S.

Organic AppleFest

Each year, apple lovers descend on Rodale Institute for the chance to pick organic fruit from the orchard and enjoy live music, games and crafts for kids, and more.

Get Details

More Facilities