Part 1: Sustainable Forestry at Husky Meadows Farm

Part 1: Sustainable Forestry at Husky Meadows Farm

Here at Husky Meadows Farm there is always something new to learn, something new to experience or to try out in the field. We rarely take a break from the continuous learning process. We strive to grow our knowledge and abilities, both personally and as a team, in an effort to usher forth a symbiosis in everything we do. In trying to learn as much as we can about sustainable farming practice I feel as though we are on the right track, implementing plans and programs that will help us produce high quality food while remaining true and honest stewards of our soils. This mentality governs our approach to the management of this property in its entirety and extends to other projects currently underway. Projects that, though not directly involved with growing crops, still revolve around the same set of principles of stewardship and sustainability in our efforts to make this a thrivingly diverse and healthy farmscape.

Take our forests, for example. At the outset of this winter we “broke ground” on a project in the forest that lies to the east of the farm. Here we are focused on both the short and long term health of this 40 acre stand of trees. The work we complete each day aids in the growth and regeneration of “crop trees,” in this case, red oak trees. Focusing our efforts on preserving oak trees is a silvicultural technique designed to increase the forage and habitat potential for wildlife in the short term while simultaneously providing the potential for a sustainable timber harvest many years down the road.

Working with both private and state foresters to develop a well thought out and planned approach, the project began by surveying the property and marking both crop trees as well as other trees to be removed (released). Once the survey and marking phase was complete we started cutting, removing usable log lengths to be processed into firewood and sold as supplement income for the farm. The tree tops and branches are being dispersed into piles throughout the property for wildlife habitat. In a matter of days, the brush piles started attracting wildlife. Birds such as white breasted and red breasted nuthatches are visiting the piles daily, dropping down from the tree tops to scope things out. Deer are bedding near the piles, eating the buds off the downed tops of red maple trees. Mice quickly moved in and predator species such as coyote, fox and bobcat are visiting the piles each night, leaving evidence of their visits in the snow. We even had a fisher pass through, bounding in the snow from pile to pile. In the coming months, due to the release of non-crop trees, the increased sunlight hitting the forest floor will allow for a more rapid growth of the large, wild patches of high bush blueberries that exist here. The disturbances we are creating will also spur native mushroom development and growth. Here we have maitaki, turkey tail, black trumpets, lions mane, chicken of the woods, puff balls, oysters, chanterelles, and many others - a wonderful plate of healthy, beneficial edible and medicinal mushrooms. Every step of the process is intended to have a beneficial impact on our forest. But it also provides for us and aids in our ability to grow and produce.

Watch for Part 2 of this post in the coming weeks - How Our Forestry Practices Benefit Us