Agroforestry in the Northeast
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Agroforestry in the Northeast






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  • --Ubiquitous in tropical world, likely predating annual crop agriculture by many millennia.

Agroforestry in the Northeast Agroforestry in the Northeast Presentation Transcript

  • Agroforestry in the Northeast
    Tree Crops -- Ecosystem Management --
    Whole-systems Regeneration
    Huge Thanks to Kat Anderson; Dave Jacke; Ethan Roland; and Jon Young.
  • What is Agroforestry?
    Agroforestry island use integrating trees and/or tree crops with other types of agriculture.
    --Agroforestry is older than annual agriculture.
    --Agroforestry can bemultifunctional, overyielding ecosystem management.
  • Characteristics of AF
    The three I’s:
    The Rule of 3: An AF system must have at least 3 “layers” or managed functional elements.
    (i.e., an orchard with grass understory is not AF.)
  • The Roots – Indigenous AF Worldwide
  • Tropical AF – Ubiquitous, Invisible to the West
    Read 1491 by Charles Mann. Current Amazonian rainforest diversity is a result of thousands of years of native agroforestry.
    Hawai’ianAhupua’a– whole-watershed management from mountain to sea, cared for by extended family networks.
  • Temperate & Mediterranean Agroforestry
    Wherever acorns are found….
  • Balanoculture
  • Tending the Wild Across North America
    Kat Anderson spent 17 years interviewing native elders from around California.
    Their stories illustrate whole-ecosystem caretaking based on agroforestry and managing wild plant and animal populations for harvest.
    Analagous patterns are found in the history (and sometimes present day) of every inhabited ecosystem in North America.
  • Soaproot – Chlorogalum spp.
    A “wild” plant physiologically
    adapted to human harvesting
    and use.
  • Cork Oak Savanna
  • Paradigm Shifts
    Not just harvesting crops or wild foods – managing the (complex and changing) ecosystems that support those species in abundance.
    Native land use patterns result in heritage ecosystems.
    With regenerative land use practices,human economic activities increase ecosystem health.
  • References on Indigenous AF
    Tending the Wild – M. Kat Anderson
    It Will Live Forever – Julia Parker & Beverly Ortiz
    1491 – Charles Mann
    Changes in the Land – William Cronon
    Enduring Seeds – Gary Paul Nabhan
    The Voice of the Dawn – Frederick Matthew Wiseman
    …and ultimately, the elders themselves.
  • Coppice: Traditional European Agroforestry
  • The Coppice Cycle
  • Coppice Products: Unlimited Potential
    Baskets – Furniture – Buildings – Tools – FUEL
    …..and more!
  • Coppice and Standard
    Understory: coppice
    Overstory: mast trees.
    Other yields: wild
    plant & fungus food &
    medicine, wild game,
    Whole Ecosystem Management
  • So….
    What the heck does all this mean in the Northeast US???
  • Northeast US Forest Characteristics
    Temperate forest ecosystem; 40+ inches of rain distributed evenly through the year.
    Most forests are under 100 years old – old-growth very rare and extremely fragmented.
    Coastal prairies and savannas almost completely gone – huge loss of diverse early-succession habitats.
    Near-complete fire suppression.
  • A 10,000+ Year History of Agroforestry in the Northeast
  • Why Implement AF Now?
    Overyielding Polycultures
    Perennial Staple Crops
    Carbon Sequestration
    Erosion Control & Soil Fertility Renewal
    Sustainable, Local, Carbon-Neutral Fuel
    Habitat Regeneration
    Productive Use of Marginal/Degraded Land
    Enhancement of Existing Farm Systems
  • 4 Strategies for AF Implementation
    1. Enhance Existing Farm Systems & Solve Problems with Agroforestry Elements
    2. Implement Proven AF Crop Systems
    3. Trial, Research, and Develop Commercially Unproven AF Crop Systems
    4. Manage Existing Landscapes as Heritage Ecosystems
  • 1. Enhance Existing Farm Systems & Solve Problems with Agroforestry Elements
    Riparian Buffers
  • 2. Implement Commercially Proven AF Crop Systems
    Alley Cropping
    Forest Farming
  • 3. Trial, Research, and Develop Commercially Unproven AF Crop Systems & Techniques
    A few ideas:
    Fruit/nut orchard with diverse perennial crop understory
    Prescribed fire management in nut tree-based AF systems
    Trial uncommon fruits for small commercial markets within AF systems, such as:
    American Persimmon
    Hardy Kiwi
    4-part controlled experiment with biochar and mycoculture in an AF crop system.
  • 4. Manage Existing Landscapes as Heritage Ecosystems
    Shifting baselines – long-term declines in biodiversity & ecological health are invisible in the short term. Look to traditional land use for appropriate baselines of health and diversity.
    Many keystone species are gone or highly restricted. Design for apex predators.
    Heritage ecosystems require management and commitment on the part of an entire community. Invest in and heal family and neighbor relationships. Ensure that the children are connected with the land.
    Ancestral diets were many times more diverse than our current diet. Renew a wide diversity of heritage foods. Celebrate and share them with seasonal festivals.
    We are the ultimate keystone species – the future of the earth’s living systems literally rests in our hands.