The How, When and Why of Forest Farming: Building and Using New Internet Based Infrastructure to Advance Learning and Practice in the Northeast

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $111,613.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $27,904.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Dr. Kenneth Mudge
Cornell University

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (other)
  • Nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, intercropping
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking
  • Production Systems: permaculture

    Proposal abstract:

    The project will design, develop and evaluate a distributed learning internet-based curriculum on forest farming (FF) and provide a platform for the establishment of long term FF learning communities. During the first year, 12 Extension and other natural resource educators from NY and PA will join with university educators and collaborators to form an instructional technology design group (ITDG), a curriculum advisory group (CAG) and a user evaluation group (UEG) to develop a prototype online forest farming course including learning community facilitation functions entitled the How, When and Why of Forest Farming (HWWFF). During the second year, four parallel HWWFF prototype evaluation groups, each consisting of 3 Extension educators, 2 other natural resource educators, and twenty land owners will participate in the 10 week prototype HWWFF course and learning community development process. Each of these pilot test groups will provide feedback to the design, development and evaluation teams for a second iteration, leading to the completed HWWFF curriculum and learning community development platform. This will be available to educators throughout the Northeast to train small farm operators and other forest land owners in the FF practices and establish long term local or regional FF learning communities. The project will incorporate and facilitate the initiation and long term management of the agroforestry learning communities structure and forest farming training materials that were developed through the earlier SARE-funded Northeast Agroforestry Learning Community project (Buck and Krasney). The HWWFF curriculum will be an interactive, multi-media web based instructional platform that is organized around lessons on developing, managing and marketing a variety of specialty forest and tree products. The 12 educators involved in development of the pilot HWWFF curriculum will contribute content from their personal experience with FF. Iterations among the design, content, and evaluation groups will be coordinated and archived using an online course design and usability database tool developed specifically for this project. This tool will also be used to organize, coordinate and evaluate activities and outcomes of the four pilot testing groups during year two.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 32 Extension and other farming and natural resource educators who participate in developing and testing the on-line forest farming course, 20 will also successfully facilitate internet-supported forest farming learning communities that will include 80 small farm operators and other private forest owners and 30 educators will incorporate the use of the web-based curriculum into their programs.
    Of the 80 land owners who participate in developing the on-line forest farming curriculum, 70 will initiate or expand trial forest farming practices, monitor them, and report on-line to their educator-facilitated learning communities on their progress and performance. Fifty (50) will cooperate with Extension and other educators to facilitate the training of many additional land owners using the distributed learning course.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.