Farmer to Farmer Agroforestry Guidebook for the Northeast

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $30,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2025
Grant Recipient: Big River Chestnuts
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Jono Neiger
Regenerative Design Group/Big River Chestnuts


  • Fruits: other, paw-paws, persimmon
  • Nuts: chestnuts, hazelnuts, other, pecans, walnuts
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, goats, poultry, sheep, swine


  • Animal Production: feed management, feed rations, feed/forage, free-range, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, grazing management, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, preventive practices, range improvement, rangeland/pasture management, winter forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, alley cropping, contour farming, foliar feeding, forest farming, forest/woodlot management, forestry, grafting, no-till, nurseries, plant breeding and genetics, seed saving, silvopasture, varieties and cultivars, water management, windbreaks, winter storage
  • Education and Training: display, extension, farmer to farmer, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, drift/runoff buffers, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, hedges - woody, indicators, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Pest Management: genetic resistance
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: food hubs, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, values-based supply chains

    Proposal summary:

    Agroforestry and the adoption and resilient and productive tree crops present one of the most sound beneficial solutions to climate change. These practices not only mitigate the impacts of climate change on farm land, but also actively reverses climate change by sequestering carbon. All the while creating abundant and nutritious food. Adoption of agroforestry has been slow in the northeast, and one of the largest needs identified has been peer-to-peer learning (5). As a specialty wholesale tree crops nursery, we have been able to build connections and relationships with people who have intimately worked with species such as hybrid chestnut, hybrid hazelnut, american persimmon, honey locust, mulberry, black walnut, and more. We have been gathering a bank of information that can only be acquired through these relationships, and much of this information is vital for the adoption of resilient and productive tree crops in the northeast. Our solution is to provide a guidebook that goes in depth on topics such as appropriate genetics, nursery stock, existing yield data, current harvesting equipment, current processing equipment, and more. This guidebook will cover these topics for each of mentioned species, and will also include 5 comprehensive case studies of farms running successful operations using these crops. Our resources will be distributed through the agencies such as NRCS and NRCD that have been requesting us to provide this information. We will also distribute these resources through farmer listservs and agroforestry workshops. 


    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to alleviate the bottleneck of limited primary source information for the adoption of resilient and profitable tree crops in the northeast. 


    Objective 1: Provide ground-truthed, practical information from farmers to farmers surrounding resilient and profitable tree crops

    • Create a guidebook that is available online and is printed that includes vital information on a species by species basis (hybrid chestnuts, hybrid hazelnuts, yellowbud hickory, american persimmon, mulberry, honey locust, ultra northern pecan, and black walnut.
    • Guidebook also includes at least 5 in depth case studies of farms growing these tree crops 

    Objective 2: Facilitate support systems for farmers to ensure success of their enterprises 

    • Create a network of additional resources online where people can explore further
    • Create a listserv where farmers can exchange new knowledge and observations
    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.