--Ubiquitous in tropical world, likely predating annual crop agriculture by many millennia.
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: Intentional Intensive Interconnected 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.)
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….
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.
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 and Standard Understory: coppice Overstory: mast trees. Other yields: wild plant & fungus food & medicine, wild game, silvopasture… 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. And…
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 = BIOREGION REPAIR
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 Windbreaks Riparian Buffers Hedgerows
2. Implement Commercially Proven AF Crop Systems Alley Cropping Forest Farming Silvopasture
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: Juneberry American Persimmon Pawpaw Jujube Honeyberry 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.