Agroforestry education using the collective experience of pioneer farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2018: $29,984.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2020
Grant Recipient: Savanna Institute
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Kevin Wolz, PhD
Savanna Institute

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, alley cropping, forest farming, intercropping, pollinator habitat, silvopasture, windbreaks
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems, permaculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Agroforestry is a sustainable agricultural paradigm that integrates trees with crops and/or livestock. Agroforestry practices can be highly profitable while simultaneously restoring critical ecosystem services degraded by conventional agriculture. Although agroforestry has not yet been widely adopted across the North-Central Region, a collection of pioneer farmers established their farms decades ago, well ahead of the curve. Collectively, these pioneers host a wealth of knowledge gained through experience - both success and failure.

    These pioneers are dispersed across the North Central Region, making it difficult for beginning farmers to learn from them in person. Furthermore, the pioneers often traverse different networks and markets than beginning farmers. Thus, the collective experience of these pioneers has been underutilized in educating beginning agroforestry farmers.

    In this project, the Savanna Institute will partner with six pioneer agroforestry farmers to document, synthesize, and disseminate over 183 years of collective experience via: online interactive discussions, virtual farm tours, podcast interviews, on-farm field days, and creative infographics of abstract agroforestry concepts. This range of methods will maximize the educational impact across the diverse ages, backgrounds, and learning styles of beginning farmers. The resulting educational materials will be priceless tools in facilitating beginning agroforestry farms in the North-Central Region.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Host 24 online interactive discussions between beginning and pioneer farmers
    • Create a virtual farm tour for each of the 6 pioneer farms
    • Compile a podcast interview of each of the 6 pioneers
    • Host 6 on-farm field days at pioneer farms
    • Synthesize abstract agroforestry concepts into creative infographics that merge scientific knowledge with farmer experience
    • Disseminate educational materials to over 4,500 perennial farmers via org,, and existing agroforestry education programs
    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.