Pocono Organics, one of the largest Regenerative Organic Certified® (ROC) vegetable farms in North America, continued to earn notable achievements throughout 2023 creating awareness for the Regenerative Organic industry by innovative product development as well as being a travel destination for those looking for unique agri-tourism opportunities.
Recognized as a Global Center for Research, Education, and Innovation, Pocono Organics achieved monumental Regenerative Organic Certified® Silver status in December through its enhanced Regenerative Organic practices.
“We are extremely proud to have reached ROC Silver status, said Ashley Walsh, President and Founder of Pocono Organics. “Our farm team worked very hard to increase our crop rotations and add additional Regenerative Organic farming practices such as creating a pollinator path, integrating compost management and maintaining grassed waterways and retention ponds on the farm. We also welcomed chickens as our first livestock to the farm.”
“Since Pocono Organics reached Bronze level certification as producers of the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified® hemp, we have been inspired by the continued evolution of their exemplary commitments to Regenerative Organic farming,” said Elizabeth Whitlow, Executive Director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance. “Their rapid ascent to Silver level certification is applauded and well deserved. It shows the depth of their dedication to farming like the world depends on it!”
Pocono Organics also earned NEXTY Award Finalist honors from New Hope Network in the Best New Innovation Experience category September 21st at the 2023 Expo East in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the farm’s hemp microgreen powder.
“It was an honor to join such an amazing collection of NEXTY Award Finalists and I am so proud of our team for all of their work that brought this from idea to reality,” said Ashley Walsh, President and Founder of Pocono Organics. “Microgreens are incredibly nutrient dense as the University of Maryland did a study that found microgreens can have up to 40-times the nutritional value as their mature counterparts. This soil-based crop is also environmentally sound to produce taking seven to 14 days to grow and requiring a fraction of the water and labor efforts to grow. What’s more, microgreens are an extremely versatile nutrient dense source in powdered form, making it easy to incorporate into soups, smoothies, baked goods, sauces as well as other beverages.”
The farm also succeeded in being awarded the USDA Value Added Producer Grant tosupport its vertical integration strategy for the microgreens powder products through the purchase of processing and packaging equipment. Walsh and her team have been focused on scaling up microgreen production for a growing list of interested natural food retailers as well as companies looking to use the microgreens as a source ingredient for existing or new products.
“The USDA grant was a great opportunity for us to apply for funds that would truly help us acquire the equipment needed to become vertically integrated and offer more year round employment opportunities,” Walsh said.
Adding, “This will greatly reduce our carbon footprint and expand our sustainability efforts as we to take our product from seed to market in a way that will allow us to grow with the interest we are seeing from companies in the natural food market.”
Finishing out the progressive year, the 2023 Regenerative Travel Impact Awards September 20th in New York recognized the 380-acre agritourism farm as a finalist in its Food & Agriculture category. The short-list of leaders included were recognized for pioneering travel destination efforts to revolutionize our eating habits and redefine how society sources and cultivates its food.
Beyond growing nutrient-dense ROC vegetables, Pocono Organics includes an organic market and scratch kitchen led by Executive Chef, Lindsay McClain, who is also a Food Network Chopped Champion. Chef Lindsay’s zero-waste approach and creativeness in her Food Innovation Lab has led the farm’s café to put its mark on farm-to-table meals.
Pocono Organics also leverages its sister-company, The Village at Pocono, as an agrotourism destination for guests looking for unique experiences and locations that fuse agriculture and food. The 56-room boutique resort includes rooms with full kitchens that can utilize Pocono Organics’ farm-to-room service where guests can order fresh produce in advance and have their refrigerators stocked upon their arrival.
“We were honored to be recognized by Regenerative Travel,” Walsh said. “We want to bring people into conversations and experiences where they can learn about the power of food for human health and how regenerative organic agricultural practices can help heal our earth. There is a direct tie between soil health and human health and the clock is ticking for both planet and people. That is why we are so passionate about this type of farming using these farming methods and will continue to be a resource for people who want to be or want to learn how to be part of the solution.”