Last month, podcast host Jacob Grace was invited to appear on another podcast, the Field Notes Podcast, produced by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. The podcast is hosted by Will Fullwider and Michael Geissinger, two extension educators with a focus on Wisconsin crop production. Eric Wolske, Illinois hub manager for Canopy Farm Management, also appeared on the episode. 

Just think of this episode as “a podcast within a podcast”!

Transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Michael: What is agroforestry? Why might it be beneficial in Wisconsin?

Jacob: So agroforestry can describe a lot of different things. Agroforestry is basically using trees for agricultural purposes. Keefe Keeley, our executive director, likes to say that agroforestry is “trees on farms on purpose”. So obviously that can describe all kinds of different things. And there are a lot of different reasons why people might want to have more trees on their farms, or be taking advantage of the trees they already have. 

It amazes me how many different ways people find agroforestry, which to me is a sign of how many different benefits there are for people. Usually I don’t try to convince anyone to do agroforestry – usually they come up to me and tell me why they want to do agroforestry. And it is kind of across the board. It’s people that want another source of income for their farm. If it’s livestock producers, they’re concerned about shade and about the health of their animals. But like you say, it’s a lot of other things, too. There are a lot of conservation benefits. People like seeing more wildlife on the farm. They like having more diversity of plants. I mean, people just like having trees on their farms, trees and shrubs that look nice. They make people feel like they’re at home. That’s, you know, one of the pleasures of getting to live and work on a farm. 

Kind of like Eric was saying, I’m talking to more and more people who are thinking about trees and agroforestry as kind of a way to bridge or connect different generations on the farm. So people who have farmland and don’t necessarily know where it’s going to go or who’s going to get it – or maybe they know exactly who’s going to be taking over that land – they want to do something now that can be a benefit to the next generation. And they’re very attracted by the potential of trees.