This year we have had a bit of rain in September so we started our tree planting early. On top of that we further planted into the layers of our silvopasture plantation.
Thank you to our Permaculture interns for buying trees and planting them. We planted cherries, nectarines and almonds into space that we had in our silvopasture. We also planted cabbages between all the grapevines that were added last winter.
What is Silvopasture
Silvopasture is where we integrate different farming elements into one agroforestry design to be higher-yielding, more sustainable and lower maintenance.
In our example, we are integrating fruit trees and grapevines with both sheep and chickens. The sheep will eat the grass, low hanging leaves and shoots and chickens clean up any weeds and fallen fruit. The animals will also be fertilising the land as they eat and the trees will provide shade to the grass so it stays greener for longer during our hot summers.
What do we have in our Silvopasture
Our original planting of the silvopasture in 2018/2019 included:
- A row of flowering trees and shrubs by the road to add beauty to the entrance and attract pollinating insects
- A row of almond trees with grapevines in between
- A row of olive trees
- A row of apple trees with shrubs in between
- A windbreak with trees to be harvested for timber and shrubs between them
- Nitrogen-fixing and biomass trees in between some of the above
- All the trees were planted along swales
The original design that we planted can be found here
2020 Silvopasture additional planting & update
We understand now that it will be at least 5 years before the sheep can go into this field without needing to protect some of the trees with individual fences. Individual fencing takes a lot of time and uses a lot of material. So we have decided to plant trees into the space that won’t be occupied by slower-growing trees for 30 years or so. We have also planted vegetables into remaining spaces in the field.
In 2020 we have:
- February 2020: Planted an additional 20 grapevines between the trees
- September 2020: Planted 10 more fruit trees in the spaces that the slower growing trees will not occupy for 30 years or so.Nectarine, almond and cherries
- Planted additional nurse trees including lucerne, neem and Leucaena leucocephala. We also have in there honey locust, Willow, Siberian pea shrub (not doing great here or anywhere on the farm) and Elderberries
- Planted Walking stick cabbage between all of the grapevines and trees, utilising their irrigation pipes. These cabbages live a few years and can be harvested for the nearby chickens, sheep, pigs and humans.
- October 2020: We planted a row of nitrogen-fixing beans (fava/Broad bean_ for harvesting in long rows in the space between the trees where we would have had pasture for sheep. This is known as alley cropping and will give a harvest of food instead of me having to strim the grass.
- February 2021: I plan to plant an additional 80 grapevines between the olive trees and a row in a space behind the apple tree row.
- We have integrated grapevines, olives, almonds and nectarine trees.
Not only does planting trees offset carbon but it also reduces our carbon footprint by harvesting fruit, timber, medicine and more from our own trees instead of buying elsewhere. The longer a tree can provide a yield, the better it is at carbon offsetting.