Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2023


V. Ernesto Mendez

Stephanie E. Hurley

Martha Caswell

Project Description

Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees into agricultural landscapes. Advancing agroforestry has the potential to support just food system transition, but it must take direction from traditional approaches (culturally-embedded, millennia-old agroforestry practices in forest ecosystems) and agroecology (the movement, science, and practice for just and sustainable food and agricultural systems). An agroecological approach to agroforestry is essential to avoid agroforestry replicating the logics and harms of industrial agriculture and to encourage learning from traditional agroforestry practices, and likewise, traditional approaches to agroforestry can support a transformative agroecological transition through redesign of agroecosystems and shifting perspectives and ethics. This paper examines agroforestry as a traditional and contemporary practice, explores its relationship with agroecology, and discusses its potential for food system transformation. This discussion then focuses locally, through the examination of barriers to agroforestry adoption in Vermont. It also explores one participatory action research (PAR)-informed project on agroforestry storytelling, story mapping, and farmer-to-farmer networking with Vermont Farm to Plate’s Agroforestry Strategy Team, including a brief analysis of five interviews with agroforestry farmers. The analysis provides insights into themes of land stewardship, biodiversity, and local food economies and points to challenges in land access, markets, and distribution, highlighting both the agroecological principles present in Vermont agroforestry and how transformative agroecology could support key challenges. In addition, this project developed an ArcGIS story map, published stories, and supported early stages of an agroforestry farmer-to-farmer network with the goals of enhancing agroecological agroforestry in the state and region for a just food system transition.

Document Type