Avery traveled from Oregon to Illinois to learn how to manage an agroforestry farm. Agroforestry is the integration of tree crops like chestnuts or hazelnuts with other crops and livestock. Adopting agroforestry is one of the top ten solutions to climate change according to the UN and the Midwest is one of their target areas for adoption. Studies show that if only 20% of each acre is converted to agroforestry, farmers could sequester .65 US tons of carbon per acre per year. And with markets for crops like chestnuts able to grow to a $300 million dollar industry, agroforestry represents an economic lifeline for struggling Midwest farmers. All together, agroforestry is a form of regenerative agriculture capable of transforming the agricultural economy while addressing climate change and supporting resilient rural communities. Savanna Institute’s mission is to lay the groundwork for widespread agroforestry in the midwest.
Currently, young farmers like Avery need to travel a long way to get on-farm experience and mentorship. The Savanna Institute’s on-farm agroforestry apprenticeship program paired Avery with a farmer in Illinois named Mary who has been practicing agroforestry for several years. Living at Mary’s farm for ten weeks, Avery spent four days a week training in farm management and one day each week connecting with a cohort of her peers and other mentors within the network. In the evening she worked through an online course and textbook created by the Savanna Institute. Finally, at the end of the summer, Avery spent time with Savanna Institute scientists working on hazelnut research, gaining cutting edge experience with the tree crop most commonly adopted in her home state of Oregon.
When Avery graduated from the program, she joined a new cohort of young agroforesters ready to transform American agriculture from the ground up. In 2020, Savanna Institute trained 10 apprentices in 3 states, but if we are going to realize the full potential for agroforestry to address climate change and create resilient farm economies, we need to train many many more. Your support makes this possible. Donations through the CFC will go towards educational programs, crop-specific research, on-farm educational events for farmers, and one-on-one farmer support.