Get a window into our work with our 2021 Annual Report.
The stories and highlights below give an overview of everything we’ve accomplished in the last calendar year. We couldn’t do what we do without supporters like you—thank you for making our work possible.
For a downloadable PDF version of our 2021 Annual Report, click here:Annual Report PDF
Investing in Hope
Every story has an inflection point–a time at which the narrative begins to shift, change, and grow. 2021 was the inflection point in the story of Rodale Institute–and I can say this with certainty, having been witness to nearly 50 years of Rodale Institute’s history.
If I had to pick one word to describe Rodale Institute in 2021, it would be investment. There has never been a time in our history where we worked directly with so many farmers, collaborated with such a variety of partners, or where we felt so deeply our impact on our community.
Our 2021 Annual Report aims to give you a glimpse into the transformative nature of this past year. As we near the end of Rodale Institute’s 75th year in 2022, we are all joined together by investment in the health of people and the planet. I hope you can feel that as clearly in the stories below as I can every time I shake hands with the folks in our community.
Together, we can grow a brighter future.
Rodale Institute CEO
Making Connections from Soil to Plate: The GIANT Company
2021 marked an unprecedented partnership for Rodale Institute, bringing together farmers, consumers, and the places they most often find their food. Through a generous donation from The GIANT Company during their Healing Our Planet checkout roundup program, Rodale Institute received nearly $1.2 million that helped to support Rodale Institute’s farmer training programs.
By combining record-breaking support with direct consumer education, The GIANT Company proved that not only their company, but their customers, care about the future of our food system.
The Grower’s Grange: An Heirloom Story
Bianca Nati and Ethan Riddle completed the Rodale Institute Farmer Training Program (RIFT) in 2021; the second time around for Bianca, who also studied farming at the Institute in 2017.
Today, they own and operate The Grower’s Grange in Oregon, growing and selling Italian heirloom vegetables that keep Bianca’s Italian-American heritage alive. Building on their experiences at Rodale Institute, the couple has launched a business that is not only thriving in its community, but reconnecting to ancestral history.
These New York Parents Are Finding a Future in Food
Lianna Levine Reisner and Elnatan Reisner–New York City parents, professionals, and community leaders– first stumbled upon Rodale Institute when they read “The Power of the Plate,” a white paper from Rodale Institute released in partnership with The Plantrician Project.
The couple became Rodale Institute donors in 2020–but doubled down their commitment to regenerative organic agriculture and human health in 2021 by inviting Rodale Institute scientists to conduct an educational program for their plant-powered nonprofit.
It’s the symbiosis of human health, soil health, and ecosystem health that drives these thought leaders forward, and inspires them to give to a nonprofit they believe emulates the cause they believe in so strongly.
The Farming Systems Trial: A Legacy
Forty years ago, the Farming Systems Trial was a long shot; a chance to prove that organic agriculture could and should compete with the conventional status quo.
Today, Rodale Institute’s flagship research project is the longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional grain cropping systems in North America, having influenced everything from national policy to small-scale organic farms.
With a growing legacy, expanded research areas, and a new report on four decades of findings, the Farming Systems Trial continues to make an impact on regenerative organic agriculture.
In 2021, Rodale Institute:
Worked with over 300 farmer clients to begin transitioning 26,000 acres to organic
Trained 7 beginning farmers to launch their careers in regenerative organic farming
Welcomed 10 military veterans to assist in transitioning to civilian life or future careers through farming
Hosted 450 farmers, researchers, educators, students, and consumers
from 23 states & territories at the Rodale Institute headquarters for Organic Field Day
Expanded educational Field Day content to a virtual presentation for nearly 300 additional registrants from across the world
Hosted 15 virtual webinars reaching over 2,200 participants
Secured $20.5 M dollars through 69 active grants
Boosted private investment in Rodale Institute by +267% as compared to 2020
News & Updates
2021 marked the expansion of Rodale Institute to new campuses (physical & virtual) as well as new discoveries of ways to give back to the farmers who are the foundation of regenerative organic agriculture. Here are just some of the updates from 2021:
Education Anytime, Anywhere
While Rodale Institute has always provided webinars, virtual events, and downloadable resources on regenerative organic agriculture, 2021 marked a new step forward in consumer and farmer education–the Rodale Institute Virtual Campus. Featuring on-demand, digital courses taught by Rodale Institute staff, scientists, and partners, courses like “Transition to Certified Organic” and “Being a Regenerative Consumer” allowed anyone to access 75 years of research from the comfort of their home.
Read more: RODALE INSTITUTE LAUNCHES VIRTUAL CAMPUS WITH NEW DIGITAL COURSES
Located in the Spring Arts section of Philadelphia, Rodale Institute’s first educational hub focused on the Grow Clean Water project, building connections between farming, food, and water. This mix of integrated signage and hands-on learning found a home at The Viaduct, a secret garden event space operated by Rodale Institute partner, Cohere. Home to Rodale Institute’s first Earth Day event in Philadelphia, the Grow Clean Water hub at The Viaduct continues to act as a gathering place for Philadelphia communities to learn more about water and food.
Read more: GROW CLEAN WATER HUB ESTABLISHED IN PHILLY SECRET GARDEN
Working with Farmers-Firsthand
2021 saw the exponential growth of Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting Service (OCS), which offers individualized advice and guidance to farmers seeking to transition to organic. By the end of its second year of operation in 2021, the OCS served nearly 300 farmer clients across the country, and boasted a team of 12 highly-skilled Organic Consultants. This service was offered free of charge to farmers in Pennsylvania and the Midwest, thanks to the generous investment from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and gracious corporate sponsors.
Read more: MEET RODALE INSTITUTE’S NEW MIDWEST ORGANIC CONSULTING TEAM
A Growing Footprint
To continue the objective of making the groundbreaking research of Rodale Institute available to farmers across the world, 2021 welcomed in two new Rodale Institute satellite locations. The Cornwall Manor-Rodale Institute Trailside Organic Farm broke ground at Cornwall Manor Retirement Community in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Across the ocean, Rodale Institute worked with corporate sponsor Davines to establish the Davines Group-Rodale Institute European Regenerative Organic Center in Parma, Italy, the Institute’s first-ever international Regional Resource Center.
Read more: RODALE INSTITUTE, DAVINES GROUP LAUNCH ITALIAN REGENERATIVE ORGANIC CENTER
CORNWALL MANOR PARTNERS WITH RODALE INSTITUTE ON NEW TRAILSIDE ORGANIC FARM
2021 marked the first micro-grant program from Rodale Institute, specifically geared towards supporting small-scale BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) farmers—whether organic, transitioning to organic, or an aspiring organic farmer. In collaboration with Organic Farmers Association and corporate sponsor Tazo, farmers received up to $2,000 to fund equipment needs, certification costs, training, or any other project that ensures the farmer’s success. Now an annual grant program, this program aims to combat the systemic barriers that exist for BIPOC farmers within the organic space.
Read more: 5 BIPOC FARMERS WHO ARE GROWING THE ORGANIC MOVEMENT
Be Part of the Impact
Rodale Institute depends on supporters like you to continue the impactful work you see here. Please consider including Rodale Institute in your giving plan this year.Donate Today