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Survey of Agroforestry Perceptions in New England

Michael Culbertson

2021

 

Current challenges for agroforestry include lack of adoption, lack of producer cooperatives, and increased complexity and labor during initial stages (Mantagnini, 2017, 481-482). There is also a need for further research and documentation of agroforestry practices in New England (Orefice et. al., 2017). Obstacles to adoption may include lack of time, knowledge, and public examples (Id.). This project will conduct an expanded survey of agroforestry perceptions and conditions in New England to produce more attractive marketing, culture creation, and site establishment. These goals may qualify for SARE funding. A similar funded project: https://projects.sare.org/sare_project/lnc20-433/

 

Elements:

  • Gather a sufficient sample of participants in every county in New England for regional comparisons. Using snowball sampling of known practitioners, silvopasture/agroforestry professors, conference participants, projects cited in recent news articles, extensions, recent publications, NRCS office cooperation, and online forums.

  • Gather a control group of non-practitioners to evaluate their perceptions and conditions.

  • Conduct survey of perceptions and conditions (discussed below).

  • Compare the perceptions and conditions. Determine regional differences. Combine data with scientific research to determine promising practices for adoption, economic viability, and additional benefits for further adoption in each region and set of conditions.

  • Design outreach material for specific practices to be simple, attractive, easily implemented, applicable to specific conditions, and providing benefits, educational resources, and funding opportunities. Connect similar/local practitioners with each other to form peer-network for support.

 

Questions and material conditions:

  • Current knowledge of agroforestry, why adopted or not, what type may be most appealing, and perceived obstacles to initiation (possibly time and funding)

  • Farming history, education, past/future plans

  • Previous land-use, current use, planned changes

  • Financial figures, plans, and perceptions of credit, risks/gains, funding sources, markets, taxation, retirement

  • Auxiliary motives, perceptions, concerns: politics/policy, family, social factors, climate change, financial);

  • Gather complimentary records: town, geological maps, aerial/site photos.

  • There may be “few publicly known examples” of agroforestry practices in the region (Orefice et. al., 2017). Meanwhile, news sources have described a series of recent projects (Boscov, 2019; Metzger, 2018; Paradis, 2021). Ask about the potential impact of these examples.

 

Objectives:

  1. Perform expanded survey of perceptions and conditions for agroforestry practices in New England. Assess the social, environmental, and economic conditions relating to perceptions and adoption. Compare regional differences.

  2. Develop well-designed guidelines to attractively market and streamline adoption and highlight successful examples. Create “cookie cutter” approaches to fit specific regions/circumstances. Distribute information to potential practitioners. Develop a peer-learning network of practitioners and potential adopters connected to larger external networks such as the Northeast Forest Farmers Coalition, New England Grazing Network, Northeast Pasture Research Consortium, etc.

 

Learning Outcomes

  • Current perceptions of economics, practical feasibility, and values regarding silvopasture and related practices.

  • Comparison of regional differences.

  • Material farm conditions (finances, number of workers, space, cleared pasture, woodland attached to farm, rocky slope, degraded soil, etc.).

  • Most beneficial implementation plans, educational resources, and funding opportunities for increased adoption.

 

References

Boscov, R. (2019, June 19). Silvopasture: Valley farmers embrace an ancient form of regenerative farming to combat climate change. The Recorder. https://www.recorder.com/Silvopasture-26347348

 

Mantagnini, F., (2017). Integrating Landscapes: Agroforestry for Biodiversity Conservation and Food Sovereignty. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69371-2

 

Metzger, H. (2018, June 13). Grazing in the Woods: Bringing Silvopastures to the Northeast. Northern Woodlands. https://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/silvopatures-northeast

Orefice, J., Carroll, J., Conroy, D. Ketner, L. (2017). Silvopasture practices and perspectives in the Northeastern United States. Agroforestry Systems, 91(1), pp. 149–160.

Paradis, J. (2021, November 25). Outside/In[box]: Are farmers practicing agroforestry in New England? New Hampshire Public Radio. https://www.nhpr.org/environment/2021-11-25/outside-inbox-are-farmers-practicing-agroforestry-in-new-england

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