Beyond the Bio

Excellence can be found in many fields, from business and politics, to medicine, science and the arts. Who are the people of excellence in Central Pennsylvania, and what makes them tick? Go Beyond the Bio in witf’s monthly radio series, a Q&A with central Pennsylvanians who’ve made an important contribution to our region, the nation or beyond. You’ll hear from philanthropists, artists, politicians, judges, activists, CEOs, inventors and physicians who will share their insights and the ingredients of their success. Beyond the Bio—monthly on witf.

Beyond the Bio: Coach Mark Smallwood

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 28, 2014 4:00 AM

They call him Coach.

Mark Smallwood leads the team at the Rodale Institute, which advocates for organic farming from its headquarters in Kutztown, Berks County.

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Photo by Courtesy

They do more than farming though - they raise cows and chickens, and a whole cavalcade of other animals.

I talked with Coach Smallwood about why he made the move to Rodale, some of the most surprising misconceptions he's heard about organic, and how his life as a basketball coach translates in his current career.

On the job at Rodale:

"It was to be more impactful...I don't know how much higher you can go.

"This was the birthplace of the organic movement, and I'm the leader here now, making good impact."

On misconceptions:

"One is that organic can't feed the world. We hear that all that time. We've totally disproved that. Our farming systems trial started in 1981, the longest trial of its time in North America, growing conventional crops right next to organic. After now 32 years, this is what we know: in terms of feeding the world, the yields are the same. No scientist in the world would ever dispute the numbers.

"What we think is if the conventional growers think they can feed the world, then so can we. The difference is we can feed the world and feed them well."

On coaching's application in business:

"I had a lot of great players, and was successful with it. After 20 years, the whole nature of coaching evolved, and it was time for me to leave. It really is no different. It's pretty simple stuff: everybody has a role to play, and you have to make sure the right person has the ball."

Hear more of each answer, plus more on the organic movement, by clicking below.

Published in Beyond the Bio

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