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OPN Connect Newsletter 184 · September 17, 2020

Pocono Organics Speeding to Success


Sprawling more than 380 acres in Long Pond, PA, Pocono Organics is on its way to becoming the largest regenerative organic farm in North America.

The concept for the business started in 2015 by Ashley Walsh, president and founder, who is a third-generation member of the popular NASCAR racetrack, Pocono Raceway.

Campos Borquez September

Walsh suffered from gastroparesis, a paralyzed stomach, which prevents people from digesting food easily.

Ashley Walsh, President and Founder, Pocono Organics

“I got to the end of the road with Western medicine—they were threatening me with feeding tubes and removing parts of my stomach, and I was on all sorts of medications that just caused more problems. And I started working with new doctors and adapted a total organic lifestyle,” she said. “I felt undeniable results by using food as medicine, and it improved my quality of life tremendously.”

Because the family owned a lot of land around the track, and the new generation is trying to diversify its business, Walsh went to the board about her idea for a regenerative organic farm.

“I felt undeniable results by using food as medicine, and it improved my quality of life tremendously.” -Ashley Walsh

Heliae September

“The track was actually a spinach farm in the ’60s, so we knew cold crops grew well here in the past, and we are looking to bring that back,” Walsh said. “I was tired of going to the store and not being able to get all the ingredients I needed for my vegetable soups or my smoothies or whatever I needed. There was never enough supply for the demand out there in the organic world.”

Pocono Organics partnered with Rodale Institute, the largest independent organic research station in the world, and what started as a small community farm quickly grew to more of a global center of research, education and discovery.

“We made sure from day one that we are doing everything the way Rodale does it and the proven way that helps human health, but also soil health and water quality as well,” Walsh said. “Last year was our first year of field crops and we started with 50 acres, and now we’re at 380 acres.”

Red Sun Farms September

The company currently has a 30,000-square-foot facility for packaging and processing, and it also contains a little organic market and a café, run by a Chopped Champion chef. It also has more than 38,000 square feet of greenhouse growing space, which stand 35 feet tall, large enough for little to no supplemental lighting needed.

Pocono Organics Cafe 

“That’s a big win for us,” Walsh said. “We have snow melting systems at the top, so during the winter months, we can melt all the snow down and reclaim that for irrigation.”

The support from the local community has been strong, and Pocono Organics has added a classroom adjacent to the cafe's kitchen to provide different classes and community events.

“We are trying to educate people on what regenerative organic is as this new label is coming online here shortly,” Walsh said. “Our efforts focus on the gold standards of regenerative, sustainable, and organic requirements.”

Pocono harvest to-go bags

TerraFresh Organics September

Recently, Pocono Organics has teamed up with CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) on a program for special needs young adults in the area on weekly events. For instance, it has built outdoor planter boxes and has taught the kids how to water and tend to their plants. At the end of season, they will harvest and learn how to cook their veggies in a healthy way with the cafe's Chopped Champion chef.

“It’s really awesome to be able to use this for some good and give some kids some experiences that were really lacking in our area,” Walsh said.

Pocono produce

Sustainability is at the forefront of Pocono Organics. The farm is USDA Certified Organic and soon will be Regenerative Organic Certified as well.

“We are trying to educate people on what regenerative organic is as this new label is coming online here shortly. Our efforts focus on the gold standards of regenerative, sustainable, and organic requirements.” - Ashley Walsh

NatureSafe September

“We try to utilize what Mother Earth has given us. We collect 68,000 square feet of rainwater, and that’s what we use for irrigation beside the greenhouses,” Walsh said. “All of our power is run from Pocono Raceway’s 3-megawatt, 25-acre solar farm that’s been operational since 2010.”

Pocono Organics partners with Rodale on the research side of regenerative organic produce and also its industrial hemp program. The company even launched an organic CBD brand this summer.

Ashley Walsh, President and Founder, Pocono Organics

Valent DiPel-September

Looking ahead, the company will enact the next two phases of its greenhouses, with plans to have 120,000 square feet of greenhouse space. The five-year plan is to get into hemp-fiber production and be able to replace plastics.

Walsh understands better than anyone that there’s a lot of added ingredients in food and that cleaner products will help improve someone’s quality of life.

“We do 100-percent organic, all the way through the chain of custody,” she said. “It’s extracted organically, and every single ingredient is 100 percent USDA organic certified, which is so important today.”

Wild River September
Valent Pyganic September

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