Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Agroforestry Means Food Prosperity….and More!

Nicola Macpherson is the owner of Ozark Forest Mushrooms in Salem, Missouri. With the assistance of her state’s forestry agency, a Forest Stewardship Plan was developed to help her sustainably manage the forest and produce wholesome mushroom products at the same time.

Imagine an open field of vegetables and greens, exposed to the sun and the wind on the outskirts of your town.  Now imagine a row of trees sheltering the crops from hot dry winds and producing more marketable melons than in open fields; more snap beans earlier and later in the season when prices are higher.

Now imagine a row of shrubs next to the trees bearing fresh fruits such as plums, chokecherries, and elderberries that become jams, jellies, pies, and wines.  Imagine another row of trees producing a bounty of healthy and delicious nuts such as black walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts.

There may be woods nearby, thick with dense undergrowth.  Imagine these woods providing income for generations to come, for thousands of forest landowners.  The bounty of foods these woods can produce include delectable mushrooms and tasty ramps (a wild leek); materials such as bittersweet vine and curly willow for creating home decorations; and medicinals such as ginseng and goldenseal.

Nicola Macpherson is the owner of Ozark Forest Mushrooms in Salem, Missouri.  With the assistance of her state’s forestry agency, the Missouri Department of Conservation, a Forest Stewardship Plan was developed that helped her business to sustainably manage the forest and produce wholesome mushroom products at the same time.  Using branch wood from trees that are selectively thinned, she inoculates them with mushroom spawn and has built a profitable forest farming business in shiitake mushrooms.

Nicola Macpherson, agroforester, with her mushrooms and a lot more on her Missouri forestry farm.

Nicola Macpherson, agroforester, with her mushrooms and a lot more on her Missouri forestry farm.

“With assistance from the USDA Forest Stewardship Program, we are able to harvest a renewable supply of mushroom bed logs to grow shiitake mushrooms while at the same time keeping our Ozark forest healthy,” says Nicola.

This is agroforestry...blending trees and agriculture to enhance the sustainable production of food and other useful products while protecting our soil and water, diversifying and expanding local economies, providing wildlife habitat, and ensuring a more pleasing and healthy place to work and live.  Agroforestry takes advantage of the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock, and practices include alley cropping, forest farming, riparian forest buffers, silvopasture, windbreaks, and other special applications.

The USDA National Agroforestry Center is collaboration between USDA’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

One Response to “Agroforestry Means Food Prosperity….and More!”

  1. martin navojoksy says:

    Hi
    I have a forestry stewardship program in NY. My dilema is my riparian fores was wipped out and I need funding to help me restore one of the forests. I have gotten nowhere with EFRP as of yet. I see all of the stuff on the web but FSA doesnt seem to recognize the value of agroforestry in my state. Can you give me any articles to support the value cause they say it isn’t cost effective.

Leave a Reply