Coppicing for Northeastern farms: Farmer feedback and coppice system case studies

2014 Annual Report for ONE14-209

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2014: $14,996.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Dave Jacke
Dynamics Ecological Design

Coppicing for Northeastern farms: Farmer feedback and coppice system case studies


Coppice agroforestry – the management of woody plants for straight, fast-grown, high quality ‘stump sprouts’ – has at least an 8,000 year history around the world, yet is virtually unknown in the modern U.S. Various forms of such ‘resprout silviculture’ hold tremendous promise for carbon-sequestering sustainable agriculture, especially in the northeast. The project’s Primary Investigators are the authors of a forthcoming comprehensive manual that will educate growers about key species, best management practices, and system design, establishment and maintenance. This project seeks to ensure the book offers practical utility to farmers desiring to integrate various forms of coppice agroforestry into their operations. The first part of this project involves Farmer Feedback on the manuscript through review periods, written comments, and group discussion of the text so far. In the second part of this project, we will, in concert with farmers, develop Case Studies of three farms through a series of coppice system “sketch problems” as a means of identifying gaps in our knowledge and honing system design processes.

         Farmer reviews so far have been quite useful in redirecting the book’s structure and content to increase utility to farmers and readers generally. Significant changes in the manuscript have ensued, and continue, from the first round of reviews. The second round of manuscript reviews has been hampered by farmers’ work loads during the growing season, delaying the project’s progress. The case studies portion of the project has nonetheless begun, with work continuing after initial site visits of three farms in New York and Massachusetts.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  • Farmers gain an understanding of coppice systems and products by reviewing the third draft manuscript of Coppice Agroforestry in two batches of chapters. They write comments in red on the pages, and return the marked up manuscripts for author review.
  • Authors follow each batch of manuscript response with a round of chapter editing.
  • Farmers participate in one conference call discussion for each batch of chapters to share and compare notes, respond to author questions, and build shared understanding of the content and their responses to it.
  • Review round 1 concludes by late spring or early summer. Review round 2 concludes by late summer. Manuscript review concludes prior to beginning the case study portion of the project so farmers can participate in the case study portion as maximally informed as possible.
  • Three farms with divergent operations, products and site conditions are chosen for the case study portion of the project.
  • Case studies begin with site visits in the autumn to provide authors with as much growing-season observation potential as possible.
  • Each farmer participates in a 6-8 hour design charrette (intensive time limited design brainstorm session) for their operation. We articulate goals, assess the site and farm operation, and develop a set of brainstormed design ideas/sketches for potential coppice systems on their farm.
  • Authors refine and develop the design ideas, researching further as necessary to fill knowledge gaps revealed by the charrette, and hone their coppice system design processes along the way.
  • Authors present one or more sketches and schemes to farmers’ review and comment.
  • Authors revise and refine the sketches and schemes as necessary within time constraints.


Mar 1         Project begun. First set of chapters prepared for printing.

Mar 17         Sent printed Batch 1 manuscripts to farmer cooperators.

June 15         Quorum of farmer-cooperators returned Batch 1 manuscripts with comments. 4 of 6 farmers returned their chapters. Comment review began.

June 30         Phone conference with 5 of 6 farmers to discuss Batch 1 chapters. Batch 2 chapters prepared for printing. Revision of manuscript based on comments commenced.

July 10         Sent Batch 2 manuscripts to farmers.

August 30         Deadline for farmers to return Batch 2 manuscripts with comments. None returned.

Sept.         Communications with farmers re: progress on Batch 2 chapters (and on Batch 1 chapters for those as yet not returned). All too busy with the growing season to work on manuscripts.

Oct 1-15         Selected farms for coppice sketch problems. Began coppice sketch problems: scheduled visits; base mapping, off-site site analysis and assessment (e.g., climate and soils data collection).

Oct 22         First farm site visit and design charrette.

Nov 16-17         Second and third farm site visits and design charrettes.

Nov-Dec          Began design case studies in earnest. Sent draft goals statements to farmers for review. Continued research to fill knowledge gaps, particularly concerning fodder and forage systems (e.g., nutrient content of tree and shrub leaves, estimating yields of pollards).

Future Milestones:

Jan 10 ’15         Send draft designs to farmers.

Jan 20 ‘15         Deadline for farmer feedback on designs.

Feb 28 ’15         Finish case studies. Begin writing final report.

Mar 28 ‘15         SARE Grant report and final designs due.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

  • Clearly beginning a project of this nature at the very beginning of the growing season was poor timing—this could not be helped given the Partnership Grant’s schedule. We hope to get completed reviews of the manuscript from farmers this winter now that their schedules have eased.
  • Nonetheless, the farmer reviews completed so far have been quite useful in both honing the manuscript, and in instigating some major redirection, reframing and more complete integration of the history, systems, and design chapters. How these three interconnect has also been elucidated by this process. This has been exceedingly valuable to our understanding, to the case studies, and to the book.
  • The case study design processes so far have also greatly clarified gaps in knowledge and deepened our reading of the literature. We have conducted further literature searches for specific kinds of information we didn’t previously realize we didn’t quite have (e.g., actual clearly defined yields and nutritional composition data for pollarded tree fodders that we can compare to standard hay volumes and composition). It has also caused a sharpening of our focus and a clearer path for how to navigate, understand and display the vast amount of widely varying “leaf hay” nutrition data we have acquired. We still have much to synthesize for other kinds of crops for the case studies, including yield data for ornamental woody cut flowers, for example.
  • While the authors are both experienced designers, the real-world challenges posed by developing practical case studies has been invaluable. This process has stretched our abilities to develop practical, funcitonal designs for working landscape and landowners, while concurrently enabling us to refine and articulate this process to readers in our book. We believe our chapter on system design will prove a major contribution to the world of resprout silviculture, so these test runs will have a significant impact on the value of the completed book.
  • Despite the challenges, the project is doing what he had hoped in terms of leavening the loaf of the Coppice Agroforestry book project.


Kathrin Woodlyn Bateman

Farmer Cooperator
Sovereign Hill Farm
14 Sovereign Road
Chester, MA 01011
Keith Morris and Kori Gelinas

Farmer Cooperator
Willow Crossing Farm
PO Box 426
Jeffersonville, VT 05464
Kim Almeida

Farmer Cooperator
Blue Vervain Farm
20 Columbus Rd.
Plymouth, MA 02360
Mark Krawczyk

[email protected]
Keyline Vermont
37 Kelton Dr.
New Haven, VT 05472
Office Phone: 8029992768
Ross and Alicia Hackerson

Farmer Cooperator
Gray Dog's Farm
35 Church Road
Huntington, MA 01050
Steve Gabriel and Liz Falk

Farmer Cooperator
Wellspring Forest Farm
6164 Deer Run Lane
Trumansburg, NY 14886
Dale Hendricks

Farmer Cooperator
Green Light Plants
1834 Flint Hill Rd.
Landenberg, PA 19350