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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Rodale Institute Launches Organic Industrial Hemp Research

Jul 28, 2017 10:07AM

Rodale Institute, the nations leading organic farming research institution, was granted one of 16 permits for research by the PA Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Pilot Project. They have started a new industrial hemp research project focused on examining the crops role in soil health and regenerative organic agriculture. It is the first time in 80 years that hemp will be grown legally in Pennsylvania. 


Rodale Institutes multi-year hemp research project is being partially funded by a generous contribution of $100,000 from Dr. Bronners. “We have the utmost respect for the values and mission of the Rodale Institute, and the paramount work they are pursuing to scientifically demonstrate the efficacy of regenerative agriculture and organic farming,” says David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronners. Their new foray into hemp cultivation will reveal important data about the crops role in the sustainable agriculture systems of the future, furthering the evidence that hemp farming should be legalized throughout the U.S., so that all farmers can benefit from hemps economic and environmental opportunities. 


Overall cost of the project is projected to be $75,000 to 100,000 per year. An additional $5,000 pledge of support for Rodale Institutes hemp research was made by Nutivas CEO and founder John Roulac. 


Industrial hemp, a versatile plant grown for its fiber, seed or oil, was a valuable cash crop and a major industry in Pennsylvania for more than 260 years. Due to its close relationship to the marijuana plant, hemp production became a casualty of a 1933 law banning marijuana, and was later named a Schedule 1 drug by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, changes made to the 2014 Federal Farm Bill now allow for hemp to be grown for research purposes by departments of agriculture or institutions of higher education. 


This is an exciting venture for Rodale Institute, as we explore the implications that industrial hemp could have for organic farmers,” says Jeff Moyer, Executive Director of Rodale Institute. This could give us an opportunity to expand farmers’ crop rotation, while helping farmers combat weed pressure, improve soil health and sequester carbon. For us, it all comes back to healthy soil and regenerative organic agriculture. We know that healthy soil equals healthy food, equals healthy people and a healthy planet. 


For more information and updates about the Rodale Institute Industrial Hemp Research, visit 

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