From chickens to chestnuts: Where farmers work the old-fashioned way

"Modern technology has revolutionized food production, but for some farmers, newer isn't always better. Across the U.S., a growing crop of producers are returning to an old way of farming..."


  • Hassena
    Hassena Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    Interesting read! silvopasture is something we are just learning about. Guess I didn't know there was a name for what we wanted to do. I wasn't aware it included specifically growing trees. We do pasture rotation with a mix of plants growing, mostly grasses, some taller perennials.

    It's fun to learn how folks made it work, working with ma nature indeed :)

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @Ruth Reyes-Loiacano Thank you for sharing. My brother and I are growing food (I hate using the word "farming") on two acres of our maternal family farm. We are leasing land and the land that we were given was fallow (for 40 ore more years) grazing land. They bush hogged the area prior to us coming to view and left two large brush piles in the north and south.

    We wanted to do an edible forest garden. We planted heirloom peach, pear, and apple trees, along with a variety of fruit and/or nut producing native trees. Most of them were damaged and/or killed by the deer and other animals.

    And then I guess in 2015 or 2016 (we started in 2013) we started seeing healthy and vibrant trees growing in the brush piles, lots of wild blackberries, and a host of other native trees and bushes. Through the whole time we also put various native grasses, herbs, and flowers. But we now are looking at what we are doing as developing an abundant ecosystem that will be an oasis and provide food for pollinators, wildlife, us, and our consumers.

    We stopped trying to plant plants that could and cannot tolerate clay soil, we continued to put our love and positive vibrations, and we decided to work more with Nature rather against her. And as our vision evolved and grew so did the products that we have envisioned (initially it was just postcards, notecards, a calendar, no value added products or produce) and are creating.

    This year we are selling herbal teas, jellies, hickory syrup, seeds, daffodil bulbs, infused oils, posters, ginger, turmeric, wild blackberries, and more. We will add new products next year and hope to have a CSA and maybe even a U-Pick for wild blackberries, wild Elderberries, Winged Sumac, Smooth Sumac, and other high producing flora.

    And one of my uncles and I was talking about this back in the Summer, about how if someone goes up to our 2 acres they cannot "see" what we are doing or trying to do because it does not look like what people are used to seeing with regards to growing food. There is no tilling, the cover crops we put out have not grown back even though they went to seed, and we have plants growing in close proximity. The brush piles still exist but are a big part of our ecosystem and I keep discovering new plants growing in them.

    This year I found Black Walnuts, ferns, Eastern Red Cedar, Maple (not sure the variety yet), and more growing in the brush piles.

  • bcabrobin
    bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭

    We have found that any tree we plant dies. But if we let the trees grow that come up on their own grow and thrive. We have some trees that are in wierd places but we have made it work for us, others are like why is there a tree planted here? We started telling people that's where God wants it, and we're letting it grow!