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FARMING THE WOODS

K. Mudge and S. Gabriel

Learn how to fill forests with food by viewing agriculture from a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other non-timber products.

The practices of forestry and farming are often seen as mutually exclusive, because in the modern world, agriculture involves open fields, straight rows, and machinery to grow crops, while forests are reserved primarily for timber and firewood harvesting.

In Farming the Woods, authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel demonstrate that it doesn’t have to be an either-or scenario, but a complementary one; forest farms can be most productive in places where the plow is not: on steep slopes and in shallow soils. Forest farming is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.

Many of the daily indulgences we take for granted (such as coffee, chocolate, and many tropical fruits) all originate in forest ecosystems. But few know that such abundance is also available in the cool temperate forests of North America.

Farming the Woods covers in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Along with profiles of forest farmers from around the country, readers are also provided comprehensive information on:

  • historical perspectives of forest farming
  • mimicking the forest in a changing climate
  • cultivation of medicinal crops
  • cultivation of food crops
  • creating a forest nursery
  • harvesting and utilizing wood products
  • the role of animals in the forest farm
  • how to design your forest farm and manage it once it’s established

Farming the Woods is an essential book for farmers and gardeners who have access to an established woodland, are looking for productive ways to manage it, and are interested in incorporating aspects of agroforestry, permaculture, forest gardening, and sustainable woodlot management into the concept of a whole-farm organism.

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