At the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, one of the threads that runs through our learning and our projects is a deep belief that interdependence and complexity make systems stronger and help all living things to thrive.
This core value is probably one reason we tend to get pretty excited about agroforestry as a practice for Vermont (and the region, and many many other places) - and why we're so proud that Pasture Program Technical Coordinator Juan Alvez is third author on a publication released in May 2020. Titled, "Evaluation of Conilon coffee productivity intercropped with Ambarella (Spondias dulcis Parkinson), the project looks at how integration of a fruit tree into stands of shade-grown coffee affected production Juan assisted with statistical analysis, results discussion and interpreting the work into an English-language document to reach as wide an audience as possible.
What does this work around shade-grown coffee have to do with Vermont farms and ecosystems? And what might Vermont farmers, growers and land managers glean from the work? As Juan says in this 2-minute video, "It's the mental shift of trying to combine things … where each of these components will be beneficial to the other components and beneficial to the farm."
"We know that that is a big shift for some farmers - to think about introducing different types of plants and animals and trees that are different from their main enterprise. But we see repeatedly that introducing diversity at any scale, as long as it's done in ways that mimic nature's approaches, actually increases productivity as well as ecosystem services. It's an approach that with a little bit of learning and a little bit of patience nearly any farmer can use."
And, as always, let us know if you want to know more. Email Juan with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.