From the Farm: How Regenerative Organic Agriculture is Growing in Hemp
Meet and Greet with Ashley Walsh, the Founder & President of Pocono Organics
By Heather Collins
Nestled atop the iconic Pocono Mountains sits Pocono Organics, a 380-acre farm in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, which has grown into one of the largest regenerative organic farms in North America. This year, Pocono Organics received its Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC), becoming the first source grower of Regenerative Organic Certified hemp in the world.
The Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) is the governing body for the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC), a designation for farms and products that meet the highest standards in the world for soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness. This new label goes beyond the existing USDA Certified Organic standards.
The ROC certification was a part of Ashley Walsh’s vision and mission when she started Pocono Organics. “We are absolutely excited to be the world’s first ROC hemp grower. This is something that we thought about from day one at our farm,” said Walsh, Founder and President of Pocono Organics.
According to the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to the organic movement, regenerative agriculture is “a holistic approach to farming that encourages continuous innovation and improvement of environmental, social, and economic measures.”
Walsh and her team at Pocono Organics identified an opportunity to set the gold standard in regenerative organic agriculture by partnering with the Rodale Institute and serving as one of their largest satellite research facilities. “We partnered with Rodale, the global leader in regenerative organic science and research, to ensure that our practices adhered to the high ROC standards,” adds Walsh. “People want to know that the products they buy are healthy for humans and our planet. The ROC seal ensures that, whether it’s CBD, hemp seed oil, or hemp fiber varieties.”
Hemp is a Superstar
Pocono Organics has 20 acres of hemp on its farm, and the company also makes a variety of hemp-derived products to meet a wide range of functional and wellness needs.
Scientists and researchers believe that regenerative organic agriculture combined with growing hemp is a way to supercharge the beneficial effects of carbon capture and soil health.
On the Pocono Organics website, Walsh indicates that “Every hemp plant grown at Pocono Organics has been in our hands from hand-seeding to hand-harvesting. We hang dry our plants to ensure they retain higher levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, which produces a higher quality product.”
Pocono Organics is gearing up for fall harvest and testing hemp plants for CBD production. The company plans to grow hemp for fiber by 2023.
Walsh adds, “We will grow for hemp seed oil and continue our research with several educational institutions for plant-based plastics replacements. We are proud to be part of the hemp community.”
Walsh admits there is still more work to be done in communicating the benefits of hemp. “People continue to confuse hemp with marijuana, and we have a responsibility to educate people on why it’s different and the versatile nature of the plant – from human health benefits to carbon sequestration and soil remediation abilities for the health of our planet.”
Through Walsh’s health journey, she hopes people are more proactive with learning about hemp and making better food choices. “People should not wait for an illness or a diagnosis to change their eating and lifestyle habits because they have to. My journey showed me the power of using CBD and nutrient-dense food as medicine to help heal me. My experience also drove home the point that we should be eating food from farms, not factories!”
For more information on the Rodale Institute and regenerative organic agriculture, visit rodaleinstitute.org.
About Pocono Organics
Pocono Organics is also an agritourism destination with a boutique 56-room hotel adjoining the farm property. Guests can get their hands dirty on the farm and enjoy freshly picked vegetables and fruits, as well as prepared meals from its market and café. There are also regular in-person and virtual experiential series ranging from cooking classes with executive chef and Food Network Chopped Champion Lindsay McClain to wellness and food education programs for children. For more information, visit poconoorganics.com.
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Heather Collins is an Account Manager for Compass Natural Marketing and has been working in communications and marketing in the natural products industry for the past twenty years. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo. Collins serves as a Contributing Writer of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact email@example.com.