NASCAR speedway returns to its roots with organic track-side farm

Known to racing fans as “The Tricky Triangle,” the Pocono Raceway is one of only seven superspeedways in the United States, nestled in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

It’s also known for its pioneering environmental initiatives. A 25-acre farm of solar panels, completed in 2010, makes the raceway the largest solar-powered sports facility on the planet. This year, the raceway also partnered with nonprofit organic research group Rodale Institute to break ground on Pocono Organics, a new organic farm on the site.

The farm defines its mission as “a catalyst for hope, health, wellness and healing by producing organic foods through responsible regenerative agriculture practices while setting a new standard of excellence in sustainable and regenerative farming.”

The farm comprises 50 acres of crop-growing field and 38,000 square feet of greenhouses. Once it’s actively producing (the first crop is expected in the spring of 2019), the general public will be able to purchase fresh organic produce at the track — particularly during big race events. Those who normally snack on popcorn and hot dogs during races will soon be able to sample fruits, grains, herbs and vegetables grown nearby.

The farm’s operators intend to make its environmental footprint as small as possible. Pocono’s solar farm will power the self-sustaining organic farm once it’s complete. Reclaimed, filtered rainwater from a nearby vegetative roof will nourish the crops, and the facility will also compost trash from the raceway. Pocono Organics will also install septic and well water systems.

The organic farm is a throwback of sorts to how the land was originally used before the 1960s: as a spinach farm. It’s a family operation as well, as the project is overseen by Ashley Walsh, the granddaughter of racetrack founder Dr. Joe Mattioli. She made the switch to an organic food-based lifestyle herself to help deal with dietary health issues. Walsh’s brother is CEO of Pocono Raceway today.

The farm expects to generate 100 jobs, focusing on employing military veterans. In the future, it hopes to expand to include a large facility for festivals, larger greenhouses, areas for beekeeping, chicken houses and more.

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