Hopefully some of you have found the time to attend either the "SilvoPro" training this week in PA or maybe even the International Agroforestry Conference in Ireland.  Look forward to some updates from anyone who made it.  And thank you, Harry, for posting some news from the recent International Silvopasturing Congress in Argentina & Uruguay.  That would have been worth the trip just for the beef & wine!

One recent event that didn't get posted here was the "Silvopasture for Professionals" training hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension in late-September.  We wanted to keep the crowd small for this pilot training that brought over 30 "technical service providers" and a few farmers to the Finger Lakes area for a few days of learning, sharing and fun.  Given the interest, we'll look for ways to continue these types of intensive trainings for both professional and practitioner audiences in the future.  In the meantime, some of the materials used in the course are available through the "publications/resources" section of www.forestconnect.ning.com (direct link: https://blogs.cornell.edu/cceforestconnect/publications-and-resources, scroll down to "silvopasture")  

Picture below of the group watching the flerd at Evermore Farm.

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Thanks for these updates, Brett.  I look forward to voting if I ever get a chance to attend the Silvopasturing Congress in South America. :)

Here's a little write-up of our SilvoPro training that was held in November in Pennsylvania.  We had a great contingent from New York some of whom we had met at the Cornell Cooperative Extension training in September.  (I'll be posting our 2024 SilvoPro dates on our website this week.) 

On November 15, 2023, Trees For Graziers kicked off its second fall “SilvoPro” course.  SilvoPro, a training geared toward aspiring agroforesters, drew 19 participants from 8 states including Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, Tennessee and a handful of mid-Atlantic states to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The purpose of the course, was to catalyze silvopasture services in other parts of the country by sharing what Trees For Graziers has learned by doing. Austin Unruh, CEO of Trees For Graziers, said to the group, “We want to see silvopasture spread far and wide, for you to take what we’ve learned here, and apply it to your contexts.” By the end of the training on Friday, one participant felt that he was “drinking from a fire hose” because of the new information he was presented with during the 3-day course.  While some participants were less familiar with silvopasture, others like consulting forester John Hopkins from north-central Pennsylvania, had spent years working with livestock in savannah-like ecosystems with scattered trees and lush forage.  

SilvoPro was made possible by a SARE grant which has supported a 1-day and 3-day SilvoPro courses in 2022 and 2023. In addition to the course, follow-up training sessions are made available by the SARE grant to SilvoPro participants who want more in-depth training on specific areas.  Both 1-day and 3-day courses are planned for 2024 and capped at 20 participants.  The SARE grant helped to keep the cost of course to $300 which included lodging and most meals.   

Austin Unruh, who wrote The Grazier’s Guide to Trees led the course and tackled a variety of topics including the key roles needed to get a silvopasture business started, funding sources, cash flow in a silvopasture businesses, tree species and genetics, nursery production, and tree establishment. Since silvopasture plantings in actively grazed pastures requires protecting young trees, much of the training focused on innovative techniques  and trade-offs of tree protection methods.  Jono Droege, one of TFG’s planners, led a Thursday morning session on planning and design as well as on-farm layout.  “The planner needs to listen carefully to the farmer in order to understand what their goals are,” Droege emphasized.  “We don’t do cookie-cutter plans.  Every farm has its own particular needs.”  Jono explained how TFG works with farmers from their initial interest in silvopasture, through the planning and design phases, planting and installing protection, and provides aftercare for trees to make sure the planting is successful.   

On Wednesday and Thursday, SilvoPro course participants toured farms in Lancaster and Berks Counties visiting three dairy grazing operations, a pastured livestock farm with chestnuts and chestnut processing, and the Trees For Graziers nursery which is one part research and one part live-stake production.  One participant from Pennsylvania thought that “visiting farms was incredibly useful in order to see [silvopasture] in practice.”

Here’s what some of the course participants had to say about SilvoPro 2023:

“The course content and duration were incredible! Super-well designed.  The length was perfect allowing for some in-depth exploration while being digestible and feasible to fit into a busy schedule.”

“I have a much more robust understanding of the processes and logistics of setting up a silvopasture system focused on grazing. Also have a much better understanding of the challenges and opportunities for scaling it up.” 

“As an educator, I feel much more prepared and informed on implementing and planning these systems. I’ve identified areas I need to seek out more resources and information for my area especially nurseries, companies to do the planting/plans, and NRCS funding and support.”  

“I think we have identified a core group of educators who want to get demonstrations going now and commit to focusing more education and resources on silvopasture.”

SilvoPro “systematically showed how to overcome the critical challenges to implementing these systems at scale.”

SilvoPro “filled in some key info gaps and helped me ask better questions.  Gave me new connections to people with various types of expertise. Provided time for scheming with other NY folks on what some easy next steps would be.”

Joshua Greene

director of education

Trees For Graziers

For more information about Trees for Graziers or SilvoPro 2024, please visit our website: https://treesforgraziers.com

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