This farm hosts far more woodlands than fields; managing our many types of forests is an important part of managing the farm as a whole. These areas range from nearly mature hardwood stands to dense, overgrown thickets of cedar and underbrush, established on a landscape varying from moist stream bottoms to steep, rocky hillsides on every compass orientation possible.
These woodland landscapes host a variety of plant, animal, insect, and fungal species throughout the seasons, giving us an ever-changing view into the natural world of the farm. Forests also provide us with food, such as wild mushrooms and venison. However, in some cases we choose to actively manage the forests with specific goals in mind, whether to generate edible or usable resources or simply to improve or change the existing habitat.
Many mature or remote forest areas, like that at above left, we’re generally leaving alone; we’d like them to develop in their own way or they’re difficult to get to. Other areas, like the thick stand of cedars above right, we’re actively clearing to improve the overall ecological and economic value of the land. By clearing dense cedars which block sunlight, we can restore areas to a prairie-savannah mix that can host domestic animals like goats while providing more diverse natural habitat. By thinning overcrowded hardwood forests, we can generate usable products such as firewood and mushroom logs while improving the habitat for woodland species. Firewood like that above left heats our home and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. Fresh-chipped cedar mulch like that above right covers many farm walkways, reducing the need for mowing and reducing erosion. Hardwood chips mulch our fruit and berry plantings. Timber and lumber provide on-farm building materials and income from sales. While forest management is not a primary task for us, it’s one of the many aspects of managing this diversified farm to maximize both the ecologic and economic value of the landscape.