Garden, Silvopasture and Agroforestry

Trees for Human Consumption

Reaching the point where perennial plant orders are being put into various nurseries for my farm, there are so many moving parts it is making my head spin! Luckily garden perennials have been planned in great detail using GIS software so the quantities and varieties are already determined. A recap on these will be written as the orders are finalized.

However plans have not yet been mapped for trees beyond tentative silvopasture planning and the time to order is now so it is a good time to share my thoughts on trees for farmer consumption (or selling fruit).

Basic nut trees are among the earliest staple foods. As the farm has some mature oak forest with a scattering of other species like walnut and another property in the family is predominantly hickory, propagation methods will be carried out slowly to clone heavy bearing individuals onto the farm. Chestnuts (American and chinese), Pecans and Filberts (Hazelnuts) are the only trees that will be purchased and planted.

Three fruit trees stand out as prospering on the farm: Persimmon, Mulberry and PawPaw.

Mulberries are early ripening tree berries that are delicious, high in pectin for jelly/jam production and high enough in sugar that they can be dried without spoiling in storage. Chickens and pigs will happily pick out the many berries that will be missed during harvest. For that reason they will also be integrated into silvopasture to provide early through late summer forage.

PawPaw are incredible. The largest fruit native to North America and an extremely unique, tropical-flavored custard-like consistency make these a true delicacy. While I vastly respect the efforts various individuals have put into improving these trees, patenting genetic information is something that disgusts me. As a result, improved trees are very expensive with stipulations that they cannot be reproduced while native-selected trees are reasonable. I will try different patented varieties as well as native individuals and decide how I want to deal with patented tree propagation when the time comes. In terms of marketing, fresh pawpaw fruit is incredibly perishable so they will be sold the day after harvest while freezing most of the harvest (and unsold fruit) for personal stores.

Persimmon has been discussed ad nauseum here so only note that a few improved strains of native persimmon with be planted in order to start breeding with the native stands. Much rootstock will be grown for grafting and propagation purposes.

For all trees on the farm, the will be continuously cloned, propagated, grafted etc to slowly build up a livestock foraging open orchard over pasture. This is why most native nut trees are not going to be included this year as they can be propagated from the natural forest. For cultivated strains of fruit and nut trees, few specimens will be planted in order to propagate more trees from their genetic information and diversity in the future.

 

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