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Contact: Katie Commender
Agroforestry Program Director

Duffield, VA, 12/01/2021 – Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) has been awarded $729,408 from the Edwards Mother Earth Foundation to improve agroforestry technical assistance. This inter-regional, train the trainer project will take place in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast, and will focus on forest farming, alley cropping and silvopasture training to meet the growing needs of farmers seeking to adopt these practices. One of only four projects selected for funding nationwide, this further illustrates ASD’s leadership in the sustainable agriculture sector.

Farmers are increasingly interested in agroforestry, but when they reach out to agricultural technical service providers (TSPs) for assistance, there’s often a lack of knowledge or capacity related to agroforestry. This makes it difficult for farmers to implement agroforestry practices. Without dedicated agroforestry funding and training, agricultural TSPs have been left without critical tools and knowledge needed to fully support farmers seeking to adopt agroforestry practices. TSPs interested in agroforestry have also struggled to find networks to share similar professional interests, discouraging continued training or networking in agroforestry. In turn, there has been a nationwide hesitancy to provide agroforestry technical assistance or approve agroforestry practices for financial assistance programs.

To improve these issues and increase agroforestry adoption, ASD’s agroforestry department will lead a 2-year project in collaboration with the following partners: Interlace Commons, Savanna Institute, Virginia Tech, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the USDA National Agroforestry Center. This inter-regional collaboration will provide virtual agroforestry learning and in-person trainings at demonstration sites in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast. Project partners have collectively provided agroforestry technical assistance and training for decades. Each year, they receive more requests for technical assistance than they can meet.

“Producers and landowners are increasingly interested in agroforestry for its economic, environmental and social benefits, such as climate resilience, crop diversification, food access and more. By creating a trained network of agroforestry technical service providers, we are providing farmers with the assistance they need to successfully implement agroforestry practices on their land. Our goal is to create a replicable train the trainer model that can be expanded around the country,” comments, ASD Agroforestry Program Director, Katie Commender.

Project focus areas will include forest farming, alley cropping and silvopasture, with room for expansion to other agroforestry practices over time. Trainings will be made available to public, private and non-profit technical service providers, K-12 educators and farmers interested in implementing agroforestry practices. Intentional justice, equity, diversity and inclusion efforts will be made to actively engage people from diverse communities.

About Edwards Mother Earth Foundation

Edwards Mother Earth Foundation (EMEF) was established in Washington state as a 501(c)3 private family foundation in 1997 with a broad vision statement for a sustainable planet earth. The Philanthropic Mission of Edwards Mother Earth Foundation is to enhance the sustainable and diverse quality of life by addressing global climate disruption. EMEF’s agroforestry program seeks to catalyze the adoption of agroforestry practices in the U.S., thereby contributing to mitigating or reversing climate change. Learn more:

About Agroforestry

Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees and/or shrubs are grown with crops and/or livestock. This intentional combination of agriculture and forestry has a variety of environmental and economic benefits, including crop diversification, soil erosion reduction, water quality improvement, wildlife habitat enhancement and more. Agroforestry practices include: forest farming, riparian forest buffers, alley cropping, silvopasture, windbreaks and food forests. ASD established its agroforestry program in 2010 with the goal of helping farmers adopt agroforestry practices that support both conservation and commerce.

About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)

Living Better. Locally. It’s what drives ASD’s commitment to propel its mission to build a thriving regional food and agriculture system that creates healthy communities, respects the planet, and cultivates profitable opportunities for Appalachians. Since 1995, ASD has been working in Central Appalachia, providing hope, and making a difference for the people who call the region home. What began as opportunities for struggling tobacco farmers to grow fruits and vegetables have become lasting solutions to regional challenges that impact economic development, workforce development, food access, health, and wellness. Over the years, ASD has expanded its reach from northeast TN and southwest VA to include partners in WV, OH and KY, enabling the organization to bring resources back to the region. For more information, visit: # # #


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