Monday, March 29, 2010

An Organic Manifesto

It was a pleasure to hear Maria Rodale speak about her new book, "Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe," today at Lehigh University.

In her book, Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc., based in Emmaus, PA, "examines the unholy alliances that have formed between the chemical companies that produce fertilizer and genetically altered seeds, the agricultural educational system that is virtually subsidized by those same companies, and the government agencies in thrall to powerful lobbyists, all of which perpetuate dangerous farming practices and deliberate misconceptions about organic farming and foods."

Today I learned a lot about organic farming. I now know that peaches are especially full of pesticides (even ones not allowed by the USDA) and that less than 1% of all farms in America are organic. But I have a lot more to learn. I picked up a (half-priced) copy of Maria's book and she signed it, "Demand Organic! Maria Rodale."
My parents have always had large, productive herb and vegetable gardens, as well as fruit trees and bushes. I have fond childhood memories of picking peas and harvesting sunflower seeds with my dad. We can't visit them in the growing season without returning home with a bag full of sour cherries, blueberries, lettuce and kohlrabi.
My little backyard garden is definitely organic, from seeds and natural fertilization techniques to harvest and crop rotation. Some night this week, we'll sit down and order our seeds. We usually order gorgeous heirloom seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, but Hillary tells me that even Target has gotten in on the action with a line of organic seeds. I couldn't find a link to the products online, but I'm definitely going to check it out.

In my own garden this spring, I plan to tear out some of the thyme and mint that has taken over half of the garden, tend the chives, rosemary, purple sage, lavender and oregano that have already started to wake up, and plant basil, cilantro, parsley, lettuce and mini bell peppers again. Who knows what else!

If you're interested in learning more about Maria's efforts, check out her blog or pick up the book at a local bookseller like Moravian Book Store or Lion Around Books (302 West Broad St, Quakertown). I also recommend that you read local blogger Garden in Bethlehem PA for inspiration - I do!


  1. Anonymous3/29/2010

    This is great - you should definitely check out the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan if you haven't already. Also a great read!

  2. Thanks for this! I pastor a small church in Emmaus, and the local cultural emphasis on organic food, localism, etc., is one of the reasons I asked my bishop to consider transferring me here. I'm quite glad he did!

  3. The brand of organic seeds at Target is Sean Conway. The are certified by Oregon Tilth and are in their garden section. Apparently, Conway is a nationally renowned garden designer.