What a year! We’ve made it to the end of 2020, and along the way learned so much about human health, our communities, and our planet.
2020 exposed frailties in our systems and pushed us to consider how to make meaningful change. While we’re nowhere near done, Rodale Institute is proud of the growth of the regenerative organic movement and the strength of the farmers, researchers, and consumers that make this growth a reality.
As consumers and farmers realized the power of regenerative organic food in 2020, organic acres have reached a new record, 3.4 million, up 4% from last year. In the first few months of the pandemic, organic sales skyrocketed, rising 22% in March, 18% in April, and 16% in May, and continuing to rise the rest of the year.
We want to keep up this momentum going into 2021, but we need your help to get there. We can’t lose the strides we’ve made this year. In a year full of turmoil, will you help us heal the planet?
Here are more updates on the how the regenerative organic movement grew in 2020:
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the CARES Act, which provided almost $24 billion dollars to the USDA to aid farmers affected by the pandemic, recognizing their essential role in feeding the country and supporting local food systems.
- Regenerative Organic Certified™ officially launched their standard, opening the certification to any producer looking to improve soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness.
- Consumers realized the power of local organic agriculture to impact their health, leading CSAs and farm shares to sell out nationwide (including ours!).
- Rodale Institute invested $2 million dollars of our endowment in expanding land access for organic farmers like those in Main Street Project, a Latinx farmer collective.
- Our Organic Crop Consulting service reached a milestone in just over a year of operation—100 farmer clients and 10,000 acres in transition nationwide!
- A report by the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis identified agriculture as a major pillar in responding to global climate change, encouraging Congress to include farmers in their climate mitigation plans.
- Collaborating with Amber Art and Design in Philadelphia, Rodale Institute installed a new mural celebrating regenerative organic farmers role in protecting clean water. Also part of the Grow Clean Water campaign, Rodale Institute launched a brand-new virtual reality experience and an educational hub at The Viaduct in Philadelphia.
- More families than ever began backyard gardening this spring, selling out seeds and garden supplies and ensuring a nearby food source that could give them peace of mind. Find out more about how we helped new gardeners get started this year!
- This year, health was more important than ever. Two of Eastern Pennsylvania’s biggest hospital networks, Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network, recognized the health benefits of regenerative organic food and partnered with Rodale Institute’s Agriculture Supported Communities program and Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm on clinical trials measuring the health benefits of organic food consumption.
- Rodale Institute released two free, downloadable white papers on the role of organic agriculture in improving human health and combatting the climate crisis.
- New films were released that brought the beauty and promise of regenerative organic agriculture, healthy soil, and the world beneath our feet to your living room. Check out these movies on streaming or rental services near you:
- Kiss The Ground, a deep dive into regenerative agriculture’s potential to combat climate change (see if you can catch any familiar faces like our Board member Maria Rodale!)
- Fantastic Fungi, a beautiful time-lapse documentary bringing the invisible life in the soil to a grand scale (check out our interview with the director!)
- Gather, a portrait of Native Americans reclaiming their food sovereignty.
All of us at Rodale Institute know that this year demanded a great deal of your time, compassion, dollars, and more. Thank you for choosing to remain a part of our community when so much else required your attention. Now is the time to gather around those that share your vision of an organic future, and Rodale Institute is honored to make a difference with you.
If you’re considering philanthropic contributions this holiday season, donations to Rodale Institute are tax-deductible and go towards helping farmers transition their land to organic and the research that helps them achieve their goals. Consider a gift to Rodale Institute today.