2.7 Acre Indigenous Farm Demonstration Project
What's Indigenous Agriculture?
Currently our agricultural system is based on annuals; corn, wheat, soybeans, and a few other crops which are all seed crops. Agroforestry replaces the annual seed crop system with perennial seed crops mostly in the form of tree nuts such as Pecans, Oaks, Chestnuts, Hickories, and Hazelnuts. These woody plants can be spaced out so their canopies don't touch allowing for smaller trees, shrubs, and herbaceous crops to be grown in between diversifying the agricultural landscape. Indigenous examples of the lower level plants would be Blackberries, Raspberries, Wild Plums, Serviceberry, Passionflower, Stinging Nettle, Groundnut, Grapes, Cut-leaf Coneflower, Jerusualem Artichoke, Evening Primrose, PawPaw, American Persimmon and many more. When agriculture shifts to an indigenous perennial system, soil is conserved, more carbon is sequestered in the soil and above ground, irrigation needs decrease, fertilizer needs decrease and biodiversity increases in response to the native plants. Since the plants are indigenous, it becomes "eco-inclusive", allowing all types of native insects including pollinators, and higher life forms to co-exist. Compare this with our current agricultural system which is "eco-exclusive" primarily supporting one single species desires (humans). In fact, any food system that isn't based in indigenous plants is much more so eco-exclusive, as non-native plants lack the co-evolution with native insects and wildlife to support them.
When our agricultural system incorporates indigenous plants as the foundation, we no longer have to look at the hundreds of millions of acres of agricultural land as habitat loss in the way that we do today. This would also in part, mitigate what is called habitat fragmentation, by connecting perennial indigenous agroforestry land to existing undeveloped habitat. We would not need to talk about Monarch butterfly decline or pollinator decline if our Agricultural system would include them, instead of exclude them. Though this requires a shift in awareness of indigenous foods and diet choice by the people to support such a major transition. Our 2.7 acre indigenous farm planting, is just starting the conversation locally, building the foundation of a movement we hope to transform the midwest with.
What we're growing in our 2.7 acre promotional project
Drawing Coming Soon, planting starts this fall, 2018!!! See our plant list for the 2.7 acres below.
Native Fruit Savanna Trees 1.5 acres
1.5 Acres (Native Fruit Savanna) 70% Projected Mature Canopy, 30% Wildflowers
45738 Mature Tree Canopy Space (45,624 calculated) 19,602 Wildflowers
American Persimmon Cultivars: 25 @ 15 foot radius, 706 sq ft, total 16238
PawPaw Cultivars: 31 @ 10 foot radius, 314 sq ft., 9420 total
Wild Plum Trees 40 @ 12 foot radius 456 sq ft, 18240
Native Fruit Savanna Wildflowers
May: Golden Alexander, Spiderwort, Penstemon, Baptisia australis
June-July: Common Milkweed, Purple Coneflower, Grey Headed Coneflower, Rosinweed, Rudbeckia hirta, Wild Senna, Wild Bergamot, Mountain Mint Species
August-September: Cup plant, Ironweed, Tall Coreopsis, Tall Boneset, New England Aster, Mistflower (local or Ernst), Maximillian sunflower, Canadian Goldenrod
Grasses/sedge: Purple Top, Panicum anceps, Canada Wild Rye, Fox Sedge, Indian Grass, Big Bluestem
1 Acre Perennial/Annual Production
10890 sq ft of path ways
32670 of perennial/annual beds
Leaf/Stem Crops: Stinging Nettle, Riverbank Grape, Common Milkweed, Cutleaf Coneflower, Horseweed, Spiderwort 3 species mixed, Passionflower, Evening Primrose
Seeds: Helianthus annus cultivars, Hybrid Hazelnuts (The only partly non-native plant on the farm)
Fruits: Passionflower, Riverbank Grape, Black Raspberry Cultivars, Elderberry, Red Mulberry, Vitis labrusca cultivars (Grapes), Ground Cherries: Physalis longifolia, Physalis pubescens. We are also growing Wild Plums, American Persimmons, and Pawpaws in the Fruit Savanna.
Roots: Groundnut, Jerusalem artichoke cultivars, Evening Primrose, Liatris spicata, Liatris pynostachya, Ipomea pandurata.
Native Herbs Culinary and Medicinal: Allium cernuum (leaf-herb crop), Anise Hyssop, Wild Bergamot, Yarrow, Elderberry, Sumac, Mountain Mint 3 species, Field Mint, Canadian Goldenrod.
It's likely this list above will expand some before planting. There are many more applicable plants in Indigenous Agriculture, but with only working with 2.7 acres, we have to limit the diversity, some.