One of the goals with the project U-garden is to write a handbook about how establish and manage agroforestry systems in Europe, with focus on urban and peri-urban environments.The farm is the main picture is located close to Nowy Sacz in southern Poland. The size of the farm is 2 hectares. Andrej Majerski is the owner of this farm. His agroforestry system consists mainly of cattle and ecological apple trees.
During 2021 and 2022, our colleague Mauricio Sagastuy has been visiting several agroforestry farms in different parts of Europe to learn directly from farmers. Three agroforestry farms are in Spain, five in Sweden, six in Denmark, and nine in Poland.
The visited agroforestry systems have been very diverse. Their size range all the way from gardens that are 0,5 hectares to windbreaks that cover 18.000 hectares. The visited farms work with various kinds of farming systems, such as forest gardens, fruit orchards, nut orchards, livestock, arable crops, and small-scale vegetable production.
It has been very interesting to learn the reasons why farmers are working with agroforestry in different parts of Europe, and we have noticed two main reasons.Vicente Borras is an orchardist living near Valencia, Spain. Vicente produces 18 different fruit varieties in his farm (size: 17 hectares). He has 165 different species of trees and shrubs in the hedges surrounding his orchards.
The first reason is because many farmers are already interested in the concept of agroforestry. This means that farmers know what agroforestry is and they find the idea appealing and exciting.
Thus, they want to apply the things they know about agroforestry in their farms.
The second reason is because trees are needed on land in order to keep their current production or improve it. Many farmers need to improve the health of their agroecosystems, and they do it by planting trees.
These farmers are integrating trees in their land because they are aware of the ecological benefits that trees can bring. For example, many farms in Poland are establishing rows of trees, because they have seen the effects that climate change is having on their farms. Establishing rows of trees increases the water retention in the soils (by reducing evapotranspiration) and it reduces soil erosion and nutrient run-off.
These positive effects help them increase their agricultural production and mitigate the negative effects of climate change.