Cornwall Manor Breaks Ground on Barn at Trailside Organic Farm
Cornwall Manor Retirement Community recently broke ground for a new barn at the Trailside Organic Farm, which is located on Cornwall Manor’s Woods Campus, adjacent to the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail.
The new 3,840 square foot structure will consist of two levels and be constructed at the west-end of the farm, near Ironmaster Road. The lower level (first floor) will have a packhouse area, two walk-in coolers, storage, work area and office, equipment storage and restrooms. The second floor will feature a multi-use space for workshops and events, storage, restrooms and tool storage for residents to store their equipment for resident gardens. The barn was designed by Beers & Hoffman, Ltd. and the general contractor is Arthur Funk and Sons and the anticipated completion date is early spring.
Cornwall Manor Retirement Community and Rodale Institute, the global leader in regenerative organic agriculture, announced their collaboration of the “Cornwall Manor-Rodale Institute Trailside Organic Farm” in March 2021. Through this partnership, a vegetable farm utilizing organic practices has been established on Cornwall Manor’s Woods Campus and the development and organic farming is led by Rodale Institute’s team of industry experts. Cornwall Manor is the first retirement community to partner with Rodale Institute. Both organizations see this project as having the potential to serve as a model for continuing care communities across the country.
Harry McConnell, Cornwall Manor President & CEO shares, “We are pleased to have this partnership with the Rodale Institute and fortunate to have Trailside Farm onsite at Cornwall Manor. Studies have shown that organic foods as well as healthy eating habits benefit the senior living population not only to prevent disease but also to improve overall health and longevity and this strongly supports Cornwall Manor’s wellness philosophy. We are already seeing the positive impact of having hyper-local produce from Trailside Farm available in our campus dining areas and look forward to expanding produce selections and educational sessions once the barn is completed.”
Trailside Organic Farm began on one-acre utilizing organic practices. During this year, site improvements were completed and 2022 was Trailside’s first year operating as a functioning farm. A variety of cold season, spring, summer and fall crops were grown on the farm, harvested and used in dining areas on campus and were made available to Cornwall Manor residents and team members at Friday Farm Markets to purchase fresh, organic farm produce for personal use.
Having hyper-local produce (items consumed where they are grown) is a benefit to our senior living community as well as the education component that our partnership offers. A variety of information sessions and workshops were offered to residents to expand their knowledge and get involved in the benefits of organic produce for people and the planet.
Additional 2022 accomplishments included the construction of a caterpillar tunnel (also known as a hoop house), which is beneficial to extend the growing season and create a controlled growing environment; an assistant farm manager was hired; a volunteer program was implemented for Cornwall Manor residents and flowers were planted at Trailside Farm to add beauty to the site and attract pollinators. These flowers became part of beautiful bouquets that were sold at Friday Farm Markets.
“At the Rodale Institute, we see ourselves first and foremost as a human health organization. Regenerative organic agriculture is a critical tool to improve human health outcomes,” said Jeff Tkach, Rodale Institute Chief Impact Officer. “That is why we are partnering with Cornwall Manor to create the Trailside Farm. We believe that providing our senior population access to fresh, organic, and nutrient-dense food is one of the great components to longevity. Through this innovative partnership with Cornwall Manor, we can create a new paradigm for continuing care by connecting soil health with human health.”
Goals for 2023 include the completion of the barn, incorporating irrigation lines, possibly constructing a second hoop house, continuing to build healthy soil structure and expanding the growing capacity to two acres, which will expand the quantity and offerings of items harvested.
Rodale Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing the regenerative organic movement through research, training and consumer education. Widely recognized as the birthplace of the organic movement, Rodale Institute, headquartered in Kutztown, Pennsylvania (Berks County), has been the global leader in organic agriculture for over 70 years.