, 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
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
I’m really looking forward to hearing from you on this.
From One Farm to Another