OP: How did you go from coaching to agriculture?
Coach: After almost two decades of coaching, I opened a consulting firm to basically coach small businesses in everything from manufacturing to finances. I
noticed that several businesses were into environmental sustainability, and the
green movement was just getting to a tipping point. Soon I was going into garden centers, golf courses, municipalities and school systems, or any other business, and taking all the chemicals off the shelf and replacing them with organic
products and teaching them environmentally correct methodologies.
From there, I started working with an organic fertilizer line based in Canada
“Your 2 Cents was developed to help
manufacturers join us in
creating a new generation
of organic farmers. The old
adage is, “Well, I’d like to put my 2 cents in,”
and brought them to 26 states in the United States over a 15-month period.
During that time, I traveled across the country and I saw what I called the agrarian genocide, the disappearance of the small family farmer. So my wife and I
decided to sell our house and take on a small operation somewhere. In 2005, I
was recruited by a small chain of stores called My Organic Market (MOMs) and
became their first environmental coordinator. Then in 2006, some folks from
Whole Foods were in the audience at a presentation I gave on sustainability and
they asked me to be their Green Mission specialist. Covering six states in the
mid-Atlantic region, I focused mainly on the environmental impact of the
stores on an operational level, and after three years, the 38 stores I worked with
were diverting 85 percent of their waste from the landfill.
I then moved on to become a “local forager,” which entailed sourcing local
food in these six states. I also helped build a few co-ops and helped small operations prepare to learn how to work with Whole Foods. As I began to make inroads in local communities, Whole Foods said that they [wanted] every store in
the region to have community garden space, so we set up gardens in schools,
assisted-living facilities and even an alcohol rehab center. Then a landlord located by a store in Richmond, Va., gave us six acres to work with and we developed it into community garden space for the residents and to produce food for
the store too. The press release on that was picked up by Organic Gardening
magazine, and after spending a half a day with the editor of the magazine, she
said, “You know, I would love to introduce you to the Rodale Institute. They’ve
posted for a new leadership and I think you’d make a nice fit.”
”so we’re letting them do that.”
Coach: Your 2 Cents was developed to
help manufacturers join us in creating
a new generation of organic farmers.
The old adage is, “Well, I’d like to put
my 2 cents in,” so we’re letting them
do that. To be a part of this, manufacturers commit to donating 2 cents per
case good to support scholarships for
students who want to go into organic
agriculture and new farmer grants.
When a company becomes a member,
they get to be part of our advisory
council and vote on how the money
gets spent. Our very first manufacturer
partner is Uncle Matt’s organic orange
juice out of Clermont, Fla., which is
giving us 2 cents per case good on all
of their 59 oz organic juice products.
All together, there are four areas
where we’re planning to focus grants
through the 2 cents program. First,
we’re going to support students
through their degree in organic agriculture. Secondly, that same student
could apply for a new farmer grant.
Thirdly, we could outfit them with a
labor force by literally bringing in the
Marines through an organic farming
training program we developed for the
Farmer-Veterans Coalition. Lastly, we
would help these students create research projects on their farms.
OP: In the year you have been with Rodale, you have spearheaded many initiatives
including the Your 2 Cents program—can you tell us more about this?
OP: You are also launching some commu-nity-based programs as well, right?
Coach: Yes, we’re doing a little twist on
Community Supported Agriculture.
We’re calling our program “
Agriculture Supporting Communities.” We’re
going to start our first model here at
the Institute. We’ve identified three
local food deserts, and we’re going to
offer a pay-as-you-go shareholder situation so that people don’t have to come
up with the lump sum that many CSAs
require. Then we’re going to teach
people how to prepare and preserve
the food in the bag for that week—and
of course we’ll have a harvest celebration with all of our shareholders. Interns will also be recruited from other