Jeff Tkach And The Rodale Institute Are On An Organic Mission
There are so many buzz words going around pertaining to food and sustainability. Sure, you’ve heard of biophilia, buying organic and living sustainably, but what does all of that really mean, exactly? Lucky for us, Serenbe Stories podcast featured Jeff Tkach, Chief Impact Officer at Rodale Institute, as the final episode of their biophilia-focused season. He dives deep into what Rodale Institute does, how they’re working with Serenbe, what organic and regenerative agriculture is, and more on living a healthy life.
You’re probably wondering, what is the Rodale Institute?! According to their website, Rodale Institute is a “501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to growing the organic movement through rigorous research, farmer training, and consumer education.” Their mission is to expand organic agriculture by helping farmers transition into organic farming practices, researching organic farming methods, and educating consumers on the importance of organic for people and planet. But where did it all begin? Well, in 1940 an entrepreneur from New York named J.I. Rodale bought an old farm in Pennsylvania and wanted to explore growing his own food without chemicals, coining the term “organic”. Seven years later he founded the Soil and Health Foundation, now known as Rodale Institute. Since then, they have been conducting research into the cultivation of healthy, living soils by exploring a more natural way of farming. So, that’s where the term “organic” comes from!
This past November, Jeff was at Serenbe to open Rodale Institute’s Southeast Organic Center, which is one of three research hubs being opened across the country to increase the number of organic farms and acres in production through training and education. In conjunction with Serenbe Farms and Many Fold Farm, Rodale Institute is working to address the challenges of southern farmers (i.e. pests, disease and weed management) and increase organic production in the southeast by serving as an education and research hub. Did you know that Georgia has less than 200 certified organic farms? Pennsylvania has about 1,400, second only to production of California. Needless to say, we’re extremely grateful that Rodale is here working towards a better future for organic farms and farmers in the southeast.
During Jeff’s Serenbe Stories episode, he explains how J.I. Rodale struggled with health problems the majority of his life, and one day wrote the words
“healthy soil = healthy food = healthy people” on a chalkboard, birthing Rodale’s mission today. This simply breaks down the concept of organic and emphasizes the importance of avoiding harsh, unnatural chemicals in our food systems. We can’t survive without food, and food can’t survive without proper soil, and as Jeff mentions, we only have about 60 seasons left to grow food using conventional practices. Luckily, organizations such as Rodale exist and can educate consumers and farmers alike to make the switch to organic. Georgia Organics is another fantastic organization doing this work, as they’re the oldest statewide nonprofit providing direct support to small and organic farmers.
Maybe this article has resonated with you, pushing you in the direction of buying more organic produce. Serenbe Farms has a CSA program (community supported agriculture) where you can sign up for weekly fresh vegetables organically grown and never placed on a vehicle for transportation.