Sharing Success in Agroforestry

We are delighted to welcome our newest LiKENeer, Chris Burney (see his bio on our staff page), to head up this new forest farming initiative.  With funding from the National Agroforestry Center of the US Forest Service, this project will develop popular educational materials about ways in which native Appalachian forests, if sustainably and holistically managed, can provide diversified livelihoods, food, livestock, botanical, herbs, syrups, and other non-timber as well as timber products. We will develop videos, pamphlets, online webinars to reach people who are new to agroforestry. We will also develop educational materials for professionals who provide services to farmers, such as agricultural extension agents, non-profits, and scholars who work on issues related to forestry and economic / community development. Finally, we will develop scenarios about best practices for transition to sustainable forest farming in a) mid-size farms in highly rural, primarily agricultural communities with stressed, overused soil and watersheds and b) small land holdings of remnant Appalachian cove forest in heavily coal-damaged areas. We will weave in oral histories, videos, and case studies of traditional Appalachian forest livelihoods and land use practices. Our primary service areas are the historic coal regions of OH, KY, TN, VA, WV and highly rural and low wealth agricultural counties throughout Appalachia.

Sustainably managed forest farming in Central Appalachia could have national and global impact in our time of climate emergency. The cool temperatures, extraordinary biodiversity, and high and steady rainfall in these mountains can help remediate and buffer climate change.  The mountains’ north / south orientation, microniches, and rumpled topographies can provide refugia and routes for climate migration. And, forest farming can play an important role in post-extraction economies by providing supplementary or primary livelihoods rooted in diverse, meaningful, and multigenerational cultural heritages.

Key partners: Wilma and Terry Steele and their networks in Mingo and Logan Counties, WV; Dr. Tom Hammett (Virginia Tech); Dr. James Thompson (WVU), Dr. Mary Hufford (LiKEN and Folklore, OSU); Sprouting Farms, WV.  Educational materials are designed using participatory methods, and overseen by a multi-stakeholder group of local farmers, practitioners, and scholars. Please contact Chris Burney if you are interested in this effort.