Agroforestry is not yet a common word for farmers, ranchers, and foresters. So we talk about Working Trees to communicate that trees can be purposefully incorporated into farms, ranches, woodlands and communities to do specific jobs like provide income and wildlife habitat or protect soil, water and air quality. The Working Trees brochures, information sheets, and displays are available to help you learn and talk about agroforestry with the people who live and work in your community.
- Working Trees Brochures are 6-page publications that serve as a great introduction to agroforestry. These color publications each illustrate various agroforestry practices that landowners can apply to help meet their production and conservation objectives.
- Working Trees Displays correspond to each of the brochures. They can be used to accompany the brochures at your next event.
- Working Trees Info Sheets are single page publications, front and back, that highlight a single issue or benefit that an agroforestry practice can address or provide.
The Seeds Of Working Trees
Trees have a job to do. Put them to "work" on your land and watch them do important tasks like improve water quality, control soil erosion, increase agricultural production, and provide wildlife habitat.
The Working Trees concept was a fundamental step towards helping the USDA National Agroforestry Center effectively communicate the role that trees can play in agricultural systems. Natural resource professionals and landowners identify with Working Trees: combining agriculture and forestry practices to yield environmental, economic, and social benefits.
The Working Trees concept was the brainchild of now-retired Forest Service Lead Agroforester, Jerry (JB) Bratton. After 23 years as District Forester for southeast Kansas, he became Great Plains Forestry Specialist (later Lead Agroforester) for the USDA Forest Service. With his focus on the entire region rather than individual forest lands, he saw the positive effect that trees could have on whole watersheds and the greater landscape. Jerry says, "When I became focused on the Great Plains as a whole, I realized that trees continually provide an important service to us. When the right trees are planted in the right places they can do any number of things to help conserve natural resources." And so, the seeds of Working Trees were planted.
As the USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) began to take shape in the early 1990's, an informational brochure about agroforestry was needed. With the 1994 publication of "Agroforestry: Working Trees for Agriculture," Working Trees had sprouted and continues to grow. The demand for this brochure has been so popular that NAC is now distributing copies of its sixth printing, as well as a Spanish translation. The original drawings used to illustrate theoretical concepts have been replaced by photographs of real-life agroforestry examples. The Working Trees concept is now an integral component to promoting agroforestry in the United States.
One of Jerry's favorite sayings is, "Working Trees really earn their room and board!" If the growing adoption of agroforestry practices across the country is any indication, a lot of other people think so, too!
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