Adapting Brazilian Syntropic Farming Practices to Integrated High-Conservation-Value Nut Tree Species in Pennsylvania

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $26,918.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2026
Grant Recipient: Homefields Inc.
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Andrew Phillips
Homefields Inc.


  • Nuts: chestnuts, hazelnuts, other, pecans, walnuts
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, trees


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, alley cropping, contour farming, cover crops, forest farming, no-till, seed saving, varieties and cultivars, zone till
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: labor/employment, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, drift/runoff buffers, habitat enhancement, riparian buffers, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, competition, disease vectors, genetic resistance, mulching - plastic
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, dryland farming, organic agriculture, organic certification, permaculture
  • Soil Management: green manures, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, leadership development, public participation, values-based supply chains

    Proposal summary:

    This project aims to convert underutilized field space to perennial native crop production focusing on high-conservation-value species. This project will be set up as an experiment with a control portion on each planting bed representing congenital tree establishment techniques. We will be able to compare these two techniques side-by-side using the key indicators of tree growth rate, canopy cover, survival rate, pest resistance, and fruiting age. This data will be able to be used by other farmers and land stewards to effectively reforest agricultural land without sacrificing productivity. Data collection will take place through a partnership with a local university by way of our Technical Advisor who serves as a faculty member. Ultimately, the tree species established will provide food crops as well as seeds and scion for our three partner nurseries that will then propagate and distribute these vital species.

    Project objectives from proposal:

                    This project seeks to:

    • Evaluate the Syntropic framework for establishing fully-integrated forests from open agricultural land
    • Conserve soil and reduce runoff by establishing trees on hayfield space
    • Establish and propagate native nut and timber species of high conservation value which require zero tilling, little irrigation, and minimal pest management while sequestering carbon
    • Quantify the effects of growing conditions on disease susceptibility and vigor among identified species
    • Provide an additional area for involvement on the farm from student groups and individuals in the community who are interested in conservation efforts
    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.