Examples of Silvopasture in Public Areas Needed

Hello Folks,

My village is hoping to keep our town commons and oak grove with grazers (I'm pushing shropshire sheep). It is a 10-ac plot (7 ac grass pasture, 3 ac oak grove with maple and other undergrowth being brush hogged this year). The plan is to use mobile netting and move them around to keep the vegetation in check. The sheep will live in an adjacent paddock with more permanent fencing and structures.

We have to convince the town council that this is a viable project to try for three years. We'll attempt to get signatures at a town meeting and then bring it to the council later, but if we could find examples of other towns or municipalities that have used grazers on public parks or woods, we could head off some objections with real-world examples. Does anyone know of places we might get in contact with? Or would anyone be willing to share pictures of an oak canopy with silvopasture below it (sajjohnson@gmail.com)? I think visual aids will help. We're rural and I think it will come down to if the council has had experience with things other than industrial corn and soybeans.

Any suggestions or comments are welcome. I'm working up a formal grazing and management plan that I'd be glad to share here for comments if that's appropriate.

Thanks,

Scott

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Scott,

I am not familiar with any municipal silvopastures but you might reach out to some of the contract goat grazers around the country. I imagine some may have worked with municipalities in the past. Here's one company example and there are more: https://www.eco-goats.com/ 

From the look of the two photos you sent I would imagine many of the trees will have to be removed before making your site into a silvopasture. If you don't allow enough sunlight to hit the ground so forage can grow (and respond after grazing) you'll probably do more damage to the site than good. 

Thanks, Joe. I will reach out to some goat folks. Thanks for the lead.

Luckily the underbrush is being cleared and the maples are being taken down to leave the burr oaks, so we should have a nice dappled understory. We'll see, but the warning is a good one for us to keep in mind.

Glad to hear you'll be doing some thinning. I think one comment to the town would be the need to have animals to keep the understory form developing into invasive shrubs. 

Reach out to the Savanna Institute, they may have images of burr oak silvopastures: http://www.savannainstitute.org/ 

The head of our town board suggested using goats to maintain the area to the people doing the thinning this last spring. The arborist doing the thinning is behind the idea. The opposition is worried about the village green and forest being turned into a defoliated feed lot (which our stocking density and rotation would have to avoid at all costs). Another opposing party holds the mowing contract.

If you want a look at the full proposal, I have it written up here: https://lowtechinstitute.org/2018/10/01/proposal-for-community-flock/

Thanks for the link to the Savanna Institute and good luck with your upcoming conference. The recovering academic in me wants to go, but the wallet of the young nonprofit director is saying I can't.

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