Farming the Forest: Empowering youth to nourish our community through hands-on agroforestry

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2022: $5,996.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Elder Tree
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Manager:

Information Products


  • Fruits: berries (other), paw-paws, persimmon
  • Nuts: chestnuts
  • Additional Plants: ginseng
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest farming, forestry, forest/woodlot management, pollinator habitat, pollinator health
  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, networking, workshop, youth education
  • Pest Management: mulches - general
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, permaculture
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, community services, leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships, public participation, quality of life, social networks, social psychological indicators, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    The Elder Tree Forest School is an experiential education program that will inspire children and youth to explore the agricultural possibilities within the understory of our forest ecosystem. We will be collaborating with the American Chestnut Foundation, Rural Action, Solid Ground Farm and Regenerate Garden Company to enable our students to experiment with new methods for cultivating edible and medicinal forest crops such as chestnut, elderberry, mushrooms and ginseng. We are committed to offering forest farm programs that intentionally include and engage neurologically diverse children, youth and adults.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Introduce youth to the concept of forest farming by delivering programs based on the National Agroforestry Center’s “Inside Agroforestry” publications and the Agroforestry Curriculum from the University of Missouri.
    2. Create an agroforestry demonstration site where youth will build practical skills that enable them to cultivate edible and medicinal forest crops in the understory of the nine acre woodlot owned by St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church.
    3. Create mentorship opportunities for youth and young adults by connecting them with local farmers, permaculturists and agroforestry experts.
    4. Share project results through field-trips and presentations at local schools, churches, conferences and through social media.
    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.