About the Agroforest
The largest of Elkstone Farm’s agriculture environments is also the longest-term project. Agroforests are an integrative approach combining forestry and agriculture – trees, shrubs and crops – to create a diverse, productive and mutually beneficial environment. Incorporating the contour of a southwest-facing slope, we planted rows of non-timber trees – Siberian pea shrubs, plums, sand cherries, burr oaks and buffalo berries. This technique creates alleys between the rows of trees that will sustain crops like strawberries, asparagus, raspberries, and other perennials and shrubs. Leaves that fall into the alleys will create mulch and provide nutrients for the soil. The trees can bear fruit and build the soil while also providing shade and wind protection for the produce.
In the summer of 2012, we unleashed a herd of weed-loving goats to a large unplanted area of the ag forest. Our goal? To discover how they might help prepare the land for planting since “nuking” it with herbicides was not an option. Our observation? Goats are much slower than a brush hog, but they’re better at fertilizing and significantly more entertaining.