Program areas at Rodale Institute
Strategic solutions team (sst)(1) research: Rodale Institute's research focuses on three primary areas: growing organic agriculture, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and solving food insecurity by growing nutrient-dense foods. There are currently more than 20 research projects taking place at our 333-acre experimental farm in kutztown, pa. areas of focus include organic soil improvement and fertility, crop nutrient density, weed management, no-till production, cover crops, crop-livestock integration, and water quality. Individual projects include investigations of soil carbon accrual, production and use of mycorrhizal inoculum, nutrient management in organic systems, and improved techniques for compost management [cont. On sched. O. ]and pest and disease prevention. Rodale Institute operates six satellite locations throughout the country. Three of these campuses are located in Pennsylvania and include an organic farm at a st. luke's university hospital network location, a farm-to-track organic model at pocono raceway called pocono organics, and the historic Rodale Institute founders farm in emmaus, pa. Rodale Institute also has three regional resources centers, located in Iowa, Georgia, and California, which operate as educational and research hubs in agricultural strongholds throughout the country. Our farming systems trial, initiated in 1981, is the longest-running side-by-side comparison of conventional and organic grain cropping systems. Our research compares the economics, energy use, and soil health of organic and conventional farming techniques.through a grant provided by the william penn foundation and a partnership with stroud water research center, in 2018 we began a similar side-by-side trial at the natural lands trust stroud preserve. The unique characteristics of this land enable us to measure the effects of agricultural run-off to the Delaware watershed from conventional vs. organic systems.in 2016, we initiated the vegetable systems trial, a long-term, side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional vegetable systems. Our goal is to develop economically viable systems that improve soil, plant, human, and planetary health through the application of regenerative organic management techniques on human consumable crops. We expect the study to continue for more than 20 years, enabling us to monitor soil health, vegetable nutritional quality, environmental impact, agroecosystem resilience, and the economics of vegetable production over time while assessing how different management practices directly or indirectly affect human health. (2) farmer training: Rodale Institute is invested in helping new farmers get established in organic agriculture, working with conventional farmers to transition to organic, and teaching existing organic farmers the most effective organic growing practices. On our farm-a diverse operation including heritage breed livestock, organic apple production, no-till organic production of grain and vegetable crops, composting, greenhouse operations, a treatment-free honeybee conservancy, and integration of pasture into organic crop rotations, among other focus areas-we offer hands-on education to new farmers through several internship pathways: our veterans training program is a flexible, 2-4 month program serving military veterans transitioning to new careers in organic agriculture; the agriculture supported communities program allows us to bring high-quality organic food to underserved communities while training new farmers; our one-year organic farming certificate program, offered in partnership with Delaware valley university, prepares students to start a small-scale organic farm or work for an organic operation; and our internships in gardening, livestock, and research give trainees the opportunity to focus on an area of their choosing. (3) human health: we are investigating the potential links between soil health and human health through our vegetable systems trial and have embarked on several partnerships to further our work in this area. The st. luke's-rodale Institute organic farm is a collaboration between Rodale Institute and the st. luke's university health network, providing organic produce to hospital patients and staff at seven hospitals in the st. luke's network. Partnerships with penn state hershey medical center and the plantrician project enable us to deepen our investigation of the soil-human health connection.
Communications(1) outreach and education: our research findings are shared with farmers, extension agents, students, policy makers, and the public through online materials, conferences, workshops, field days, seminars, and symposiums. We offer webinars, videos, social media and email newsletter updates, and other resources through our website, rodaleinstitute.org, which sees approximately 500,000 unique visitors per year. (2) advocacy: through our sponsorship of the organic farmers association, a national membership body of certified organic producers in the united states, [cont. On sched. O] Rodale Institute supports organic farmers in advocating for improved federal policy in Washington, d.c. Learn more at organicfarmersassociation.org.