Events & News

Cornwall Manor Expands Trailside Organic Farm to Advance Health and Wellbeing

May. 22, 2023

2023 begins the second growing season at Trailside, an onsite organic farm located on Cornwall Manor Retirement Community’s Woods Campus, adjacent to the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail.

Cornwall Manor and the 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 using 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.

Trailside Organic Farm began on one acre utilizing organic practices. During 2021, 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 are 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. Additionally, ground was broken in November 2022 on a bank barn.

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. The anticipated completion date is this summer.

Goals for 2023 include the completion of the barn and planning a ribbon cutting ceremony, incorporating irrigation lines, construction of a second hoop house and a full-size high tunnel, applying for organic certification which verifies that Trailside complies with the USDA organic regulations, continuing to build healthy soil structure and expanding the growing capacity to two acres, which will expand the quantity and offerings of items harvested, hiring a summer intern and resuming Friday Farm Markets.

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.”