Welcome to the Spring 2022 edition of the Temperate Agroforester!
The Spring Temperate Agroforester focuses on forest farming in the lower Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Appalachia. Special thanks for the guidance on this issue provided by guest co-editor Hannah Hemmelgarn.
From medicinal herbs to tree saps and syrups, North American forests are abundant with harvests for food, medicine, craft and other cultural uses. Those who practice forest farming may develop a particular appreciation for the complexity of managing for certain long-lived perennial herbaceous plants and fungi within a healthy forest ecosystem.
In this issue of AFTA’s Temperate Agroforester, three projects aimed at improving our understanding of forest products, their sustainability, and the potential for growing markets come from three unique regions: Appalachia, the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Read more to learn how you can be involved in these efforts through research and education for the benefit of human and plant communities alike.
If you would like to learn more about forest farming, be sure to check out the forest farming webinar series from the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition here.
Mark your calendars!
Call for Articles: Summer 2022
We are pleased to announce the call for articles for the Agroforester Newsletter for Summer 2022. The theme for the Summer 2022 newsletter will be "beginning agroforesters". We are looking for stories from agroforesters just getting started - what was the inspiration/motivation, available resources for beginning agroforesters, important knowledge gained along the way, or any other topic related to getting started in agroforesty. If you have an interest in submitting an article relevant to the featured theme please submit your article topic by May 27 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Final articles will be due July 15. As always, we welcome ideas for future themes and suggestions for articles, and we welcome any input or feedback about the newsletter at email@example.com. Let’s share what each of us are doing and educate/encourage others out there to take advantage of agroforestry!
Are you interested in becoming a member of AFTA or need to renew? If so, get started by clicking here.Your membership gives you access to the members-only area, discounts on conference registration, and helps support AFTA's mission to promote agroforestry. If you have any questions about memebership please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Commender, Agroforestry Director at Appalachian Sustainable Development; Dr. John Munsell, Professor and Forest Management Extension Specialist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
The medicinal herb market has increased for the 16th consecutive year, by a record-breaking 17.3% in 2020, according to the American Botanical Council’s market report. In 2020, the report shows forest botanicals like black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) ranked respectively as the 17th, 12th and 30th top-selling herbal supplements in the U.S. As demand grows, conscientious consumers and companies are becoming acutely aware of the sustainability concerns surrounding the forest botanical trade from overharvesting and habitat loss, and are seeking traceable sources of supply to ensure the longevity of the supply chain.
Hannah Hemmelgarn, University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry
Maple sugaring is a culturally valued practice in many parts of the US and Canada that can bring awareness to the importance of non-timber forest products and ecological forest management. In the lower Midwest, on the western edge of the native range for sugar maple (Acer saccharinum), syrup production is currently practiced primarily by hobbyists for home-scale and local consumption. However, Missouri and Illinois agroforestry professionals, existing sugarmakers, and researchers realize an untapped potential for a growing tree syrup industry in the lower Midwest, and are working to address relevant gaps.
Maple syrup production is one of the most popular examples of forest farming and agroforestry in the U.S. and Canada. However, commercial production of maple syrup is almost entirely concentrated in the eastern region of these two countries and has historically been defined by the native range of the sugar maple (Acer saccharum). True to its name, sugar maple sap has a sugar content 2-3 times more than other maples (at 2-3%). This higher sugar content means there is less water to remove through boiling and makes it an ideal species for syrup production. However, producers in these areas also tap other native maples [e.g., silver maple (Acer saccharinum) or red maple (Acer rubrum)], which have lower sugar content but still produce valuable sap (Peters et al. 2020). The expansion of maple syrup production beyond sugar maple begs the question: which maples in other parts of the country are suitable for syrup production? All maples produce sap with sugars (sucrose) that can be reduced to syrup and individual species may have unique, marketable flavors.