Iowa is one of the top two producers of soybeans and corn in the United States, as well as the fifth-largest state for its number of certified-organic farms, making it the perfect home for the Rodale’s Institute Midwest Organic Center.
Founded in 1942, the Rodale Institute is a global leader in what it calls regenerative organic farming, embracing the motto "Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy People." With its main campus in Pennsylvania, the institute connects with over 25,000 farmers each year, providing education and research to farmers considering converting to organics.
The Midwest Organic Center is the first step towards expanding their education reach across the country. “We’ve identified a very strong partner in Iowa,” says Jeff Moyer, executive director of the Rodale Institute. The initiative was made possible through the partnerships of a private funder, Tony Bedard, the CEO of Frontier Coop, and the Indian Creek Nature Center, which donated 20 acres from its Sugar Grove Farm to be used for its research and education hub.
By having the Rodale Institute in the Iowa landscape, Moyer hopes to establish a new model for farming. “Up until now, the farmers lacked the education and model to help put regenerative organic farming into action,” he says. Now, the local farmers will be able to see the results firsthand, while also having access to a team of experts to aid with the transition.
“A lot of farmers are discouraged about the future, economics are getting tighter, and the next generation are leaving the family farm,“ says Moyer. The Rodale Institute aspires to breathe new life into agriculture through sharing 70 years of expertise and 40 years of data in regenerative farming. —Anne Marie Hardie