Agroforestry Pilot Project Shows Innovative Approach to Fight Climate Change and Diversify Crops

May 10, 2019
Ariana Vruwink (608) 267-8823

Kicking off with a tree-planting this Saturday, May 11th, Dane County’s Silverwood Park will become the site for an agroforestry demonstration project that benefits both farmers and the environment.

The 2019 County budget included almost $20,000 for installation and maintenance of two areas at Silverwood Park that demonstrate “polyculture” farming. These techniques conserve and build soil, and provide growers with potential multiple-source farm income.

“Dane County is making significant investments to fight climate change,” said County Executive Joe Parisi. “Whether it be investing in new farming practices or generating clean energy from our landfill and cow manure, Dane County is leading the way to push innovative solutions that can serve as a model for other municipalities across the country.”

The projects at Silverwood will be directed by the Madison-based Savanna Institute and supported by the Friends of Silverwood Park.  After Saturday’s kick-off, installation of an 18-acre row-cropping area at the park entrance will show farmers how to plant grain, beans or other typical crops, interspersed with fruit and nut trees.  Another installation at the north end of the park will demonstrate riparian buffers that trap run-off water, conserve soil and produce harvestable crops at the same time.

“These projects can provide a model for fighting climate change and supporting our rural economy. In addition to the economic benefits, polyculture farming helps keep our lakes clean by building the soil and preventing the loss of excess nutrients that fuel algae blooms when they enter our waterways,” said County Supervisor Yogesh Chawla, who offered the budget amendments.

The projects will also encourage the long-term storage of carbon – a source of global warming – in trees, bushes, perennial plants and soil.  Carbon reduction in the atmosphere is a goal identified by Dane County’s Climate Change Council. Programming at Silverwood is dedicated to regenerative agriculture education.

The Friends will conduct workshops and install educational signage to explain the projects to park visitors.  The Savanna Institute will help manage the installations and conduct research to benefit its agroforestry outreach in the upper Midwest.  Silverwood Park—located on Highway 106, six miles northeast of Edgerton—is a public facility open 12 months a year.

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