Agroforestry and Food Forest Services
ArcheWild delivers medium to large-scale Native Agroforestry and Food Forest Services
Construction. Contour Swales, Irrigation, Crop Protection.
Planting. Fruit/Nut Crops, Cover Crops, Market Crops
Management. Soil/Crop Health, Weed and Invasive Control
Custom Grow. Specialty Crops, Hard-to-Find Species
What is Native Agroforestry?
“Agroforestry is the intentional integration of [native] trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. It has been practiced in the United States and around the world for centuries.”
Alley Cropping, combining trees and vegetables
Forest Farming, farming with trees or nursery products
Silvopasture, combining trees and livestock
Riparian Forest Buffers, improving farm habitats and water quality
Windbreaks, reducing wing erosion
What is a Native Food Forest?
“Community [native] food forests may be best known as a source of fresh healthy food to local residents, but they also offer expanded social connections, reduced food costs, enhanced physical activity, hands-on outdoor learning experiences for children, and much more.”
Native Food Forests
Human edible tree crops
Interplanting vegetables/fruits in a forested setting
Creating a forest using only food products
Concentrating appropriate native fruiting trees/shrubs
Managing a natural forest for food products
Here is a classic Native Agroforestry example: a 100+ acre Pennsylvania farm subjected to over 200 years of traditional crop management. High-input corn and soybean rotation for the last 20 years with no cover crops has left the land ravaged.
Despite managed as a no-till farm for the last 15 years or so, soil organic content hovers around 0%. Crops are highly sensitive to variable rainfall amounts and yields are low. What to do?
Poor soil health led to several failed fruit and nut tree planting attempts. Beautiful Persimmon and Pawpaw trees refused to grow and slowly faded over time despite building extensive contour swales for improved moisture retention, and hand fertilizing.
Recognizing that it would take a decade or more to rehabilitate soils on over 100 acres, the landowner decided to grow another marketable crop.
Black locust is one of our most remarkable native trees. It fixes soil nitrogen. It’s renewable (can resprout after harvest), grows quickly, is impervious to weed pressure, useful on the farm for durable fence posts, boles saleable to local saw mills, and provides excellent honeybee support.
Image shows 1,000 trees planted in two large blocks, tubed, and staked. This planting will average about 3-4′ of top growth a year when all other trees on the farm are dead or dying. Tight spacing promotes tall, straight growth. Trees are harvestable in as little as 5 years as fence posts, 10 years for deer fence posts, and 15-20 years for market lumber.
Native Agroforestry Example
Alternative Crop Example
Corn, soybeans, and other market crops demand healthy soils with ample plant-available nutrients and good soil structure. Most farms have few tracts suitable for market crops. But commodities are not the only option.
Demand for genotyped native seed for ecological restoration projects, and for use by restoration nurseries, is on the rise. Demand is rapidly shifting away from internet marketers to locally-farmed sources.
Shown here are two native seed crops that both actually flourish in depleted, low-moisture soils. Pycnanthemum incanum and Eragrostis spectabilis.
As of the date of the spring of 2021, the wholesale price for feed corn was $0.096 per pound. Yes, that’s less than ten cents per pound of shelled feed corn.
Compare to $125.00 per pound of Pycnanthemum incanum and a whopping $360.000 per pound of Eragrostis spectabilis. That’s a massive difference in market value. Native seed is worth more than six orders of magnitude more than commodity corn.
Of course, yield per acre is lower and can take a couple of years to establish, but native seed crops are perennial and require minimal inputs other than an occasional fungicide or selective herbicide.
ArcheWild and other other firms act as brokers for native seed producers, insulating producers somewhat from the task of storing, marketing, and distributing crops.
Native Food Forest Example
This Pennsylvanian rancher operates a successful value-added food products business. Intrigued by the food forest concept, 25 acres were developed as 100% native fruit orchard to supply the raw material for a line of jellies, jams, syrups, and other products.
Three different serviceberry species, two species of blueberries, choke cherry, chokeberry, and viburnums are grown in an intricate web to produce a nearly weed-free orchard. Paths are mown and maintained to allow workers to harvest fruit in season.
In years where demand for native fruit products is low, the rancher incurs nearly zero maintenance costs and allows the wildlife to feast on the food forest’s bounty.
Establishment cost is high for this type of intensive food forest. Preparing soils, planting 10,000s of seedlings, and providing early protection from deer could discourage casual operators.
But now that the food forest has matured, even deer browse is no longer an issue. There probably aren’t enough deer in the County to cause noticeable damage in this food forest.
Serviceberries play double duty by providing early season honeybee support while the blueberries support local bumblebee populations.
Herbaceous species planted along with the food forest have all but disappeared under the dense canopy of the native fruiting shrubs.
Productive, attractive, ecologically beneficial, and 100% native. What’s not to love?