Update: Touring the Midwest

Almond Agaricus!

Almond Agaricus!

First, I personally want to start off this post with a big THANK YOU to all of those who supported us in the indiegogo campaign, and who continue to support us in writing this book. As I’ve been on the road over the last several days I’ve thought often of the gift donors gave to Ken and I – the chance to travel around the temperate regions of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern US to visit farms and forests and share the stories of REAL forest farmers with our readers.

Ken has spent time this summer visiting sites in Southern PA, Virginia, and West Virginia. I was tasked with taking the trip to the midwest in September, which I’m currently in the midst of.

It’s been a whirlwind to say the least – we are talking over 1000 miles in 10 days, visiting sites in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio. Notably, I’ve been to:

Field and Forest Products (mushroom spawn production)
New Forest Farm (integrated permaculture tree-crops farm)
Badgersett Research Farm (epic nut research on chestnut, hazelnut, and hickory)
Ozark Forest Mushrooms (18,000 log mushroom operation)
U of Missouri’s Agroforestry Center & Research Farm (all sorts of cool things)

and, I still have to visit:

Forest Keeling Nursery (innovative tree crop work)
Integration Acres (permaculture paw paws and goats)
– the Ohio Paw Paw Festival! (all things paw paw)


Phillip Rutter at Badgersett discusses a coppiced Chestnut

My head is, at this point, so filled with thoughts, ideas, and possibilities it really feels like it may burst. At each stop I meet passionate and dedicated individuals who have been working on their respective aspect of agroforestry for decades. It’s very humbling and makes me ask myself; “what will I spend my life working on?”

The good news is that there are a ton of amazing folks working hard on this stuff. The challenge is that, despite all the hard work, we have quite a long way to go. We need more people planting trees, selecting varieties, growing crops, and observing the land as it grows into a forest.

There is so much to share. I’m currently working on summary case studies for each site. For now, perhaps a list of the coolest things I’ve done on this trip might give you folks a peek into the awesome potential of this work:

— watched Almond Agaricus mushrooms growing under a meyer lemon
— discovered Maitake fruiting in a garden bed (cultivated!)
— observed Black locust coppiced as a mulch for American Chestnut trees
— witnessed cropping of asparagus between rows of Chestnut & Walnut
— saw so many nuts on so many trees – acres and acres and acres
— visited Icelandic sheep grazing underneath hybrid Hickory trees
— walked though a 20 year old grove of hybrid American Chestnuts
— tasted young hazelnuts a few weeks from ripening (tastes like peas)
— learned so many factoids and details to successful nut growing
— stood in the woods surrounded by tens of thousands of mushroom logs
— discussed the future of agroforestry with big thinkers in the field
— picked up a bale of pine-straw…a tree mulch!
— discussed the intricate challenges of truffle cultivation with an expert
— jotted down pages and pages of notes, questions, and ideas

Coppiced Black Locust at New Forest Farm

Coppiced Black Locust at New Forest Farm

I have some more days and more sites to see before heading home. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and again, I thank YOU for providing the means to make it happen. The book benefits, as well as each of you who read, experiment, and practice agroforestry in your own way. Stay tuned as we’ll share some full case studies soon.

— Steve