It is very interesting what folks think of as a farm. When you picture a farm…..what do you think of? Most would probably answer: barns, livestock, open fields full of crops, etc. All of these things happen on what we would call open land (non-forested). While this is the crux of farming operations, there is an often overlooked, and not often thought about, part of most small new England farms…..the woods.
Most farms in the northeastern United States are a mixture of woods and open fields. Interestingly, the forested portion of farms typically gets neglected (or is thought of as separate from farming operations). Some farms will use the woods for a variety of uses….i.e. firewood, maple syrup, pasture, park old run-down equipment, hunting…….but typically these woodlots are underutilized and under-appreciated.
We look at the woods differently at 47 Daisies (maybe this is because I teach sustainable forest management). At 47 Daisies the woods and open fields blend across the landscape……is their a separation to their uses? Of course there is, not many folks plant crops in the woods, but the connection cannot be lost between these very different ecosystems (forested and farmscape).
The forest supports the farm. It is a unique balance of harvesting woodland crops (logs for growing mushrooms, firewood, maple syrup) and appreciation. If we observe the forest, we can get ideas on how to make farming more productive and sustainable. Rarely do we see a monoculture (one species) in a forest. Most forests consist of a myriad of species all coexisting in their own niche. This co-existence is what makes the forests so productive….not just for harvesting of wood products, but for wildlife habitat, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and just sheer beauty.
Next time you are in the woods, look around and appreciate what the forest does for us as a society…..clean water, clean air, oxygen production, wood products (from toilet paper to furniture), reduction of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide), recreation……….and this only scratches the surface!!
Enough of this ranting, but do “love thy forest as thy self!!”
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )