The Rodale Institute, it might be argued, is where the U.S. organic farming movement was born. At the very least, it has been a significant factor in the organic movement’s growth, and a pioneer in organic research. Built on the principles espoused by organic founders like Sir Albert Howard, and inspired by biodynamic advocates such as Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, the Rodale name has been synonymous with organic for more than 50 years. A commitment to “feeding the soil, not the plant” is central to the original organic philosophy, and is still practiced at Rodale. As the summary of a new research report celebrating 30 years of trials at the Rodale Institute explains: “The hallmark of a truly sustainable system is its ability to regenerate itself. When it comes to farming, the key to sustainable agriculture is healthy soil, since this is the foundation for present and future growth. Organic farming is far superior to conventional systems when it comes to building, maintaining and replenishing the health of the soil.”
But the claims made based on their research are not limited to soil health alone. The research at the Institute, it is claimed that “…organic agriculture is more sustainable than conventional with consideration to yield, economic viability, energy usage, and human health”. Indeed their research results are astounding. And though other researchers have complained that it is not “scientific” enough, has not been properly vetted in “peer reviewed” journals, this has never been the purpose of the research at Rodale. Instead, their trials are meant to show farmers and the public, not scientists, that organic agriculture works.
You can download the full report and view the amazing pictures and astounding data at: http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/files/FSTbookletFINAL.pdf
Rodale’s New Farm Website is also an extremely valuable resource for beginning and transitioning organic farmers.