Robert Rodale

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Bob Rodale
Robert David Rodale

(1930-03-27)March 27, 1930
Manhattan, New York, United States
DiedSeptember 20, 1990(1990-09-20) (aged 60)
Cause of deathCar accident
Known forOrganic gardening
Lehigh Valley Velodrome
Spouse(s)Ardath Rodale (m.1951–90); his death
ChildrenMaria Rodale
Parent(s)J. I. Rodale
Anna Andrews Rodale

Robert David "Bob" Rodale (March 27,[1] 1930 – September 20, 1990) was an American adherent of organic farming, regenerative agriculture, and gardening and a publisher focused on health and wellness lifestyle magazines and books.[2][3] Rodale was the founder of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Rodale was born in Manhattan in 1930 to Jerome Irving (J.I.) Rodale and Anna Andrews Rodale. The family moved to Emmaus, Pennsylvania, shortly after Robert's birth when J.I. and his brother Joseph established an electrical manufacturing company there. He had two sisters, Nina and Ruth.[5][6] Robert learned the basics of farming and gardening while growing up on the family farm in Emmaus. He attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from 1947–1951, studying English and journalism.[2] In the 1970s, Robert Rodale played a major role in getting the state government's attention through his Cornucopia Project, which stimulated the publication of state-level analyses of how readily local demand could be met by local supply. At a time of increasing energy prices, a new emphasis on eating local became his platform for a more sustainable way of engaging with his community.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Rodale met his wife, Ardath Harter, at a square dance party held at her family home. His father "suggested" her as a wife for Robert after dancing with her himself. Robert and Ardath married in June 1951 after a short courtship. The couple had five children,[8] several of whom are involved in the family-run Rodale Press and Rodale Institute.[2]


Rodale competed in the 1968 Olympics in skeet shooting[4] and was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1991.[4]


Robert joined his father at the Rodale Press in 1951 as an editor. His first assignment was to read the galley proofs for The Organic Farmer, a precursor to Organic Gardening and New Farm magazines. He worked alongside his father as president of Rodale Press until his father's untimely death in 1971 during a television interview with Dick Cavett.[6] Robert was the US representative at the founding of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) (now IFOAM-Organics International), at Versailles, France in 1972.[9] He continued his work with the family publishing firm and non-profit agricultural research organization. That work included editing the high-circulation Prevention. He was the chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Rodale Press at the time of his death by car accident in Russia in 1990.[2][3][10]


On September 20, 1990, Rodale was killed in an auto accident in Moscow, while in the Soviet Union to establish a Russian-language edition of The New Farmer, one of several publications of Rodale Press devoted to an approach in farming that reduces reliance on chemicals.[3] His widow, Ardath, died in 2009 at 81.


  • Rodale, Robert (September 1972). Sane Living in a Mad World: A Guide to the Organic Way of Life (1st ed.). Rodale Press. ISBN 0878570101.


  1. ^ Gjerde, Arild; Jeroen Heijmans; Bill Mallon; Hilary Evans (June 2012). "Robert Rodale Biography and Olympic Results". Olympics. Sports Archived from the original on November 14, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Jane Potter Gates, Robert Rodale, National Agricultural Library (U.S.) and the United States Department of Agriculture Video and Teleconference Division. (1989). "Oral history interview with Mr. Robert Rodale". Beltsville, Md.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library; Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Video and Teleconference Division. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Fowler, Glenn (September 21, 1990). "Robert Rodale, 60, Dies in Crash; Publisher Backed Organic Farms". The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Robert Rodale". United States Bicycling Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
  5. ^ "Nina Rodale Engaged. She Will Be Wed in April to Robert Hale Horstman" (Sunday, January 6, 1957). New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "J. I. Rodale Dead. Organic Farmer. Espoused the Avoidance of Chemical Fertilizers." (Tuesday, June 8, 1971). New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  7. ^ Joan Gussow's article "But What Can I Eat In March" from the newspaper Natural Farmer Spring 1993
  8. ^ Ardath Rodale: Rodale Board Member and Chief Inspiration Officer of Rodale Inc. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  9. ^ Paull, John (2010). "From France to the World: The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)" (PDF). Journal of Social Research & Policy. 1 (2): 93–102.
  10. ^ "Rodale: Brief History". Rodale Press. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved January 2, 2009.