Small Woodlot Management for Multiple Yields (Even Income)

I’ve been trying all summer to get a blog rolling – really something that is part sharing ideas with a wider community, part documentation of my work in permaculture, and part to just get myself writing again. I often forget these days that at one time I had aspired to be a writer – and I wrote. Sometimes for three hours a day.

To kick off this blog I thought I would post the audio of my presentation at the recent NOFA Summer Conference. NOFA = Northeastern Organic Farming Association. I have been to several conferences put on by the New York chapter but this was my first regional conference. I was pleased at the strong presence, and interest, in permaculture topics this year.

My workshop was entitled “Small Woodlot Management for Multiple Yields (even income).” I’ll let the audio speak for itself. This was my first stab at presenting this material, which I’ve been working on for many years, and I rather enjoyed myself:

Part One: Intro (15:52)

Part Two: Big Picture Management (24:32)

Part Three: More Principles (14:17)

Part Four: Income from Woodlot Management? (24:13)

I was hoping to have my slide presentation synced with my audio but unfortunately due to technical challenges it will not come to pass at this time. You can however view the slides in the following movie. I supposed if you were committed enough you could look at the slides while listening to the audio! Rather then press play, use the scroll bar to navigate through the images...


Maybe eventually I'll try again to put the two together...ahh technology.

Whether you listened to the above or not, I’d like the highlight what I’ve come to recognize as the core question I am interested in answering. It goes something like:

At a time when our forests are fragile and approaching increasing challenges of disease and climate change, what incentives can be designed to encourage active management where we can steward ecosystem health while obtaining productive yields?

When I say “incentives” what I really mean I supposed comes down to economics, and also relates to a larger challenge. No matter how much we care about building soil, increasing biodiversity, or growing healthy forests, we can’t really spend all that much time doing it unless we can make a part of our livelihood from it. More on that later.

While there were many exciting moments to the conference, I was most blown away when I attended a concurrent event called Northeast Animal-Power Field Days, which describes itself as “a unique educational event focused on the use of draft animal power in farming and logging.”

MORE: http://www.draftanimalpowernetwork.org/

While I’d hoped that this trip would give me the chance to sleep in a few mornings, I was too overcome by curiosity to sleep in Saturday, getting to the UMass demonstration farm just after 8:00am to participate in the logging with animal power sessions. Again, I’d like to let the visual speak for itself:


There is something quite remarkable about the handful of folks who have maintained this deep and traditional relationship to animals and their work. After spending many times in the woods with loud machines and diesel fumes, I loved spending a quiet summer morning with the horses and their teamsters, talking about the challenges of making a living spending time in the woods, doing good management.

This blog is dedicated to my work as a designer, teacher, and forest farmer. I plan to promote and discuss the necessity of good small woodlot management and other forms of perennial agriculture. I am currently involved with several educational events through the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute and as an extension associate in the Horticulture Department at Cornell University. My time outside of institutions is largely devoted to starting a small mushroom business and offering small woodlot management services to the local community.

Please feel free to email me at steve@workwithnaturedesign.com, or leave a comment below! I will be posting weekly on a different topic, and you can sign up on the right toolbar with your email to get posts sent right to your inbox. Thanks for visiting.