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Agroforestry Updates: Forest Farming Spring 2024 Recap

LiKEN partner, Ruby Daniels, founder and proprietor of Creasy Jane’s Herbal Remedies, presenting at the Gather to Grow Forest Farming Conference in March.

LiKEN’s proposal “Community Wealth from Healthy Rivers and Forests” was awarded 3.1 million dollars from the Inflation Reduction program  by the U.S. Forest Service.  In Partnership with two watershed organizations, Friends of the Tug Fork and Kentucky Riverkeeper, LiKEN will facilitate community-led ecological restoration at the headwaters in 26 coalfield counties on the Kentucky-West Virginia border.  The grant will fund several more Community-Engagement Coordinators (CECs) based in the service area along with a director for LiKEN’s Forest Farming Program.  Initial listening sessions convened by CECs will document collective memories of species and habitats that have traditionally supported local livelihoods, and that could be incorporated into restoration planning that is economically, ecologically, and culturally regenerative. Over a period of three years, communities will work with LiKEN to design and implement forest farming plans that connect communities with emerging markets.  Ethnographers on LiKEN’s staff will train CECs in ethnographic and documentary practices that can facilitate storytelling that collectively models, and reflects on, historical interactions with the region’s “mixed mesophytic forest” habitats. How can emerging markets for non-timber forest products and carbon-sequestering woodlands support livelihoods based on traditional knowledge and skills found throughout headwater communities?    

Kevin Slovinsky represented LiKEN at the Eastern Kentucky Farmers Conference organized by Community Farm Alliance. He met with leaders in agroforestry technical assistance and educational programming. With presentations from the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension Services, Grow Appalachia, Community Farm Alliance, the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, and more. The conference connected farmers to service and grant-providing organizations.

The case studies and scenarios resulting from LiKEN’s Sharing Successes in Agroforestry project were published to LiKEN’s website, along with a video produced by Daisy Ahlstone and Mary Hufford on Ruby Daniels’ Afrolachian Agroforestry practice in Lanark, WV.  

Mary Hufford attended “Gather to Grow,” the Appalachian Forest Farmer Coalition conference in Roanoke, at which many of LiKEN’s partners in agroforestry presented. Participants from emerging forest farming networks throughout the U.S. worked in regional groups to inaugurate what conferees agreed is now the American Forest Farming movement.  A mighty context within which Central Appalachian Forest Farming may flourish.

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