On our farm or yours, face-to-face or online, people and their questions make my work a delight
Sharing a quest—or just a question—creates a bond that helps build sustainable community.

By Jeff Moyer, The Rodale Institute® Farm Manager

Jeff Moyer is the farm manager at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm, and has been here for over 26 years, refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems. The farm has over 1,000 organic apple trees, a 3-acre CSA, 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market, and 25 acres of experimental research plots that have been used to test and compare the yield, soil health and environmental impact of organic and conventional systems for the last 22 years.

"It's been extremely rewarding to work at The Rodale Institute," says Jeff. "Working on projects and with people who are having a positive impact on family farm practices, economics, and environmental stewardship is very fulfilling. The positive changes I've seen on our own farm over the years—and farms around the world— convinces me that we're on the right road."

How to contact Jeff

Click here

611 Siegfriedale Rd.
Kutztown, PA 19530

February 16 , 2007: One of things I enjoy most about working for The Rodale Institute is the opportunity I get to interact with people. Not just any people, but the finest people you can imagine.

On a daily basis, I’m involved with the rest of the Institute staff. There are many folks here you never get a chance to meet or hear from: research staff, farm operations folks, administrators, office support—people with all sorts of talents and skills, all working to move the concepts of regenerative agriculture forward.

I also get to visit with farmers. And not just any farmers—farmers like you who share a common interest in the way we farm and a curiosity about how to farm more sustainably. Some farmers I get to meet on their own farms, and others visit us here at the Institute. Some I meet far from home.

I was in Texas recently and visited three farms around Dallas. Again, I had the opportunity to meet some of the nicest folks in the world. That’s seems to be true no matter where I get to travel. Organic farmers who keep on learning, farmers looking at new ways to be sustainable and farmers seeking out the path that matches there unique situations are a joy to meet.

I also have the opportunity to meet—and often work with—the best ag scientists in the world. There’s a tremendous number of really talented people pooling resources to work on the issues that confront us on a daily basis on our respective farms. From plant nutritionists to soil scientists, and from crop geneticists to manure management experts, all put their efforts into helping make your farm and mine more sustainable biological and business models.

And I get to meet lots of folks like you—readers of New Farm. Some I encounter when I attend events around the country. Others I “meet” only through the questions you ask via the website in “Ask Jeff” in that yellow box at left. You can see the recent questions here.

And this is where things really get interesting.

I get questions on every subject you can imagine—and then some. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy each and every one of them, because I do. Some are just way out of my league.

For example, I received an email regarding a small backyard chicken flock that was apparently disturbing the neighbors. Roosters like to crow in the morning—not once or twice but all morning long. Well, the reader reported this bothered the neighbors, who didn’t think it was time to get up at 4 a.m. But the person who owned the roosters couldn’t bear to part with them, so they wanted to know if there was any way to surgically remove the voice box of a rooster—like I said, way out of my league.

Then there was the question asking for an organic method of removing grass stains from a dress. I hate to admit it, but I don’t even do my own laundry, let alone give advice on how others might do theirs. And I don’t do dresses, especially.

However, most of the questions I get are right on target: questions about the essentials and adaptations of cover cropping, composting and practical crop rotations. Or questions regarding soil organic matter, tillage and haymaking. I enjoy answering them all. In explaining these soil health practices, I have new opportunities to create a bridge to better biological farming for someone who’s exploring their next step.

The Internet has opened up a whole new way to meet people. Sure, I’d still rather be standing in your field or here in my own back yard. But through the e-pages of New Farm and through your questions, I get to expand the list of the great people I know far beyond what was possible only a few years ago.

I hope you’ll all continue to send me your questions, tell me your stories and come to visit me in person here at the Institute. I—and the rest of the staff—look forward to meeting you in person.

And now I have a question for you: As I take time out to write this column, I’m always wondering what you’d like to hear more about. What topics would you like to see me cover in this space?

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you on this.

From One Farm to Another