Pocono Organics Brings Long Pond Back to Its Roots
Long before cars roared around the racetrack and fans filled the grandstands, Pocono Raceway was once a spinach farm. Back then, chemicals, pesticides and GMOs weren’t even invented, and farmers worked with whatever Mother Nature provided.
Today, Pocono Organics is tapping back into the local legacy of farming. This farm, market and café is located right across from the raceway, and even with their state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge research, one thing hasn’t changed since the old days: a commitment to growing food the natural way.
Pocono Organics Is the Largest Regenerative Organic Farm in North America
The idea took root in 2015, and it only grew from there.
Ashley Walsh, Founder of Pocono Organics, decided to start a farm after suffering from gastroparesis, a stomach condition that made it difficult for her to digest food. It seemed like her only options were surgery and medication—until she adopted an organic lifestyle.
However, finding organic products in the grocery store was a challenge. Walsh decided to start a small community farm so she could grow the produce she needed and introduce other people to fresh foods along the way. She cold called the Rodale Institute, an organic research station in Kutztown, to see if they could help, and the relationship opened doors beyond what anyone could imagine.
“Once we started working with them, it went more from a community effort to a global effort,” said Walsh. “Now we’re a global center for research, education and discovery through all of our programs.”
A Destination for Foodies, Families & More
Pocono Organics held their grand opening in June.
The farm spans 381 acres, complete with outdoor fields and 38,000 square feet of greenhouse space so they can grow crops all year long. Each greenhouse is 35 feet tall, which allows them to grow plants you typically wouldn’t find in NEPA, like the full-size avocado and papaya trees in their tropical bay.
Over in the main building, the farm market sells fresh produce straight from the source, as well as other organic snacks and products. It’s also where you can find Pocono Organics’ own brand of CBD products, which are grown and formulated right onsite.
The new café is run by Lindsay McClain, the 2014 champion of the hit cooking show Chopped. The restaurant serves farm-to-fork breakfasts, lunches, smoothies, baked goods and takeout items using fresh-picked ingredients.
Pocono Organics hopes to start farm tours and small-group events later this summer. They look forward to hosting wellness workshops, yoga and meditation retreats, cooking classes, kids’ programs and more.
Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants, Healthy People
In addition to being a must-see spot for tourists, Pocono Organics is also blazing the way in education and research.
Pocono Organics uses regenerative organic methods, which go a step above typical organic standards. Their practices focus on restoring the soil and keeping it healthy for years to come.
“Sustainability is great, but we’re beyond the point of just sustaining. The UN scientists project that we have 60 seasons of farming left before the soil is totally depleted,” explained Walsh. “Our grandkids aren’t going to have any land left to farm unless we start taking care of it now and reversing the damage that we’ve done.”
To help out the environment even more, they’ve developed a Farm2Track initiative with Pocono Raceway. The farm will take food waste from the track and use it as compost on the farm. Then, they’ll offer organic options throughout the venue, from the concession stands to the corporate suites to a roving farmers’ market in the infield.
The farm’s next big project is planning for the United Nations Food Forever Experience, an initiative to reintroduce lesser-known crops back into the food system. As part of the program, Pocono Organics is growing centuries-old seeds from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Then in September, they’ll host industry leaders from around the globe to discuss the future of farming.
Pocono Organics Is Now Open
Get a taste of all they have to offer.
The farm market is currently open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The café is open Thursday through Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page to keep up on the latest news and events.