Kutztown, PA—Rodale Institute has launched the Rodale Institute Certified Advisor program, which certifies agricultural service providers to offer organic transition assistance, with the goal of building a network of local, trusted agricultural service providers backed by Rodale.

Under the management of Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting team, Rodale Institute Certified Advisors (RICA) will meet with current and prospective organic farmers to utilize local knowledge, community, and trust to help increase organic acreage across the country.

“The Rodale Institute Certified Advisor program is a perfect opportunity for existing or retired farmers to get involved with helping advance organic agriculture on the ground,” said Sam Malriat, Director of Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting Service. “Not only does this program allow Rodale Institute to expand our services to more farmers across the country, but it also helps foster trust by building on the knowledge that many farmers may already have of Rodale Institute as an institution.”

To become certified, participants must submit an application to Rodale Institute that includes their experience and expertise. Prospective Advisors must then complete a training course through Rodale Institute’s Virtual Campus and complete an exam. Once approved, Certified Advisors will be matched with Rodale Institute Organic Consulting Service clients based on geographical region and needs.

Melissa Mattee Murphy, a 2021 pilot cohort participant, currently serves as an Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Agent in Fulton County, Georgia. In the press release, she commented: “I developed a passion for organic agriculture by working with farmers in Appalachia. I was fascinated by how these farmers were able to sustainably integrate their land with the fragile mountain ecosystems around them, working with the land instead of forcing it into submission. Farming organically just makes the most sense for most of my farmers, so I look for any opportunity to learn about it and share my knowledge with my community.”

RICAs will be qualified to advise farmers on topics such as certification assistance, crop rotation planning, recordkeeping, market discovery, soil analysis, and more.

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“We’ve been so excited about the response that we’ve received to our Consulting Service, and we’re excited to expand access to transitioning resources through the RICA program,” said Emily Gantz, Rodale Institute Organic Consulting Service Program Manager. “As our client base grew, we realized that we were missing regional knowledge and a diversity of backgrounds that really allows us to build one-on-one support for farmers. By empowering Certified Advisors to bring the research of Rodale Institute to their communities, we are widening the impact of this work.”

Participants in the next program round can learn more and sign up atRodaleInstitute.org/RICA.The RICA exam will be offered through the Rodale Institute Virtual Campus. Funding for the program is provided by theHearst Foundations.