The Giant Company has partnered with the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit focused on advancing organic farming, as part of efforts to promote more sustainable agriculture and retailing as well as reduce food insecurity.
Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, said Thursday that Rodale Institute has been a global leader in regenerative organic agriculture for more than 70 years and is regarded as a founder of the modern organic movement. Its 333-acre experimental farm, which conducts research plus farmer training and education — is situated in Kutztown, between Allentown and Reading, Pa.
Giant plans to support three key Rodale initiatives centered on farm consulting, farmer training and research. The institute’s Organic Crop Consulting Services, launched in 2019 with the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, supports farmers aiming to transition to organic by providing one-on-one mentorship with the Rodale’s trained agronomists. Similarly, the Rodale Institute Farmer Training program (RIFT) offers an on-site internship that trains farmers for a career in regenerative organic agriculture and supports the institute’s farm share program, mobile pop-up markets and farmers markets.
In addition, Giant will support one of Rodale’s ongoing research studies on the link between healthy soil with human health. The programs are aimed at healing people and the planet by increasing organic acreage, training new organic farmers and driving the organic movement through science.
“Through education, research and training, Rodale Institute is quite clearly leading the charge to transform farming for the better, and we’re incredibly fortunate to have this resource just two hours from our home office,” Giant President Nicholas Bertram said in a statement. “Their important work complements our other environmental initiatives, including offsetting our carbon footprint, creating pollinator habitats and reducing food waste. By partnering with Rodale Institute, the pioneers of organic farming, we are able to support sustainable efforts from the farm to our stores and ultimately to our customers’ tables.”
On March 1, Giant will kick off its Healing the Planet campaign, designed to support organizations focused on environmentally friendly initiatives. Besides Rodale Institute, customers at Giant, Martin’s and Giant Heirloom Market stores also can contribute to the Planet Bee Foundation and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful at checkout by rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar.
“Rodale Institute is proud to have a retail partner in The Giant Company, who provides food for so many in our home state,” commented Jeff Moyer, CEO of the Rodale Institute. “Despite the organic food market reaching $55 billion last year, only 1% of U.S. cropland is currently organic. Now more than ever, it’s critical that food retailers, farmers, and consumers join together to advocate for the food system they want to see, one that heals both people and the planet. The support of a retailer like The Giant Company will allow Rodale Institute to continue our research, farmer training, consulting, and education initiatives to grow the organic movement and build an organic future for all.”
Giant has engaged in a range of efforts to support local growers and producers as well as drive sustainability in the food supply chain. For example, TV spots by the grocery chain have focused on eliminating hunger, healing the planet and supporting health and wellness, and in June the company established a seven-acre, pollinator-friendly solar field at its corporate headquarters in Carlisle. More recently, Giant expanded availability of the Flashfood app, aimed at helping to reduce food waste, to more stores in December, and earlier this month the retailer launched the HowGood ratings system to help customers gauge product sustainability while shopping.
Giant also participates in the PA Preferred program by using shelf tags to highlight products grown or produced in Pennsylvania. That also includes PA Preferred Organic, created as part of the 2019 PA Farm Bill to increase market opportunities for Pennsylvania farmers and make the state a leader in organic agriculture.
“Agriculture grows when we produce what consumers want. Pennsylvania is a national leader in organic sales, and we are investing in organic research at Rodale and in a new PA Preferred Organic program,” stated Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “These targeted investments grow opportunities for consumers to buy what they want and farmers and grocers to earn more. And investing in regenerative farming improves our soil and water so we can keep growing in the future. With this partnership, The Giant Company and Rodale Institute are cultivating that growth and joining us in promoting a healthier, greener Pennsylvania economy.”
The Giant Company operates nearly 190 stores under the Giant, Martin’s and Giant Heirloom Market banners in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as over 150 online pickup hubs and grocery delivery service in hundreds of ZIP codes via the Giant Direct and Martin’s Direct e-commerce brands.