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“What can I do with the woods?”

We are often asked this question and encourage people to check out the wide range of options in Agroforestry.

Agroforestry describes a wide range of practices that integrate trees, forests, and agricultural production. These systems can be adapted to almost any site and condition, though considerations like climate, slope, soil characteristics, and grower objectives will ultimately determine the crops that are appropriate for a specific piece of land.

Examples of crops include mushrooms, maple and other tree syrups, ginseng, ramps, fruit and nut trees, and more. For farmers with forest on their land these enterprises are a great way to diversify the land and add some extra income.

In response to increasing interest in agroforestry over the years, Cornell has created a number of tools and resources to help woodlot owners start farming their forests. Each category below has videos, guides, and websites to help, along with the contact information of key individuals in the Cornell community.


Forest Mushroom Cultivation

Visit for factsheets and videos describing in detail how to grow and market forest mushrooms, and connect with other growers.



shiitakeBest Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation in the Northeastern United StatesUniversity of Vermont and Cornell have published a guide full of technical advice, step-by-step instructions, and helpful tips for growers who want to explore shiitake mushroom cultivation on their own land. Shiitake mushrooms are the second-most cultivated variety in the world, and the demand for locally produced, log-grown shiitakes is high among chefs and consumers.

You can access the guide at


Key Contacts:

Steve Gabriel, Cornell Small Farms Program,


Tree Saps & Syrups (Maple, Walnut, Birch)


The Cornell Sugar Maple Program web site provides maple syrup production information for people with varied syrup knowledge, activities and information for students and teachers, and extension research project information.



Assessing the Potential of a Site for Maple Sap Collection offers a guide to seeing if your woods is viable for maple syrup production.

Image result for sugarmakers companion The Sugarmakers Companion, written by Michael Farrell, (formerly of Cornell) contains extensive information on how to develop an efficient, profitable, and enjoyable sugaring operation. Michael Farrell documents the untapped potential of American forests and shows how sugaring can turn a substantial profit for farmers while providing tremendous enjoyment and satisfaction. This book is available through Chelsea Green Publishing.




Key Contacts:

Steve Childs, State Maple Specialist,

Joe Orefice, Director of Uihlein Maple Center,



Silvopasture integrates livestock, trees, and forage and can be done in existing woodlots or by bringing trees into pasture settings. There are many variations and options for systems and the resources below offer some starting points.



Silvopasturing in the Northeast is a publication by Peter Smallidge and Brett Chedzoy that outlines the basic principles and approaches to the practice of silvopasture.

Photo Guide to Northeastern United States Silvopasture by Joe Orifice offers a nice array of examples from active farms demonstrating the wide range of possibilities for silvopasture systems.

Silvopasture: How to Integrate Pastured Animals, Forage Crops, and Trees in a Temperate Farm Ecosystem is a new book by Steve Gabriel coming out in 2018.


Key Contacts:

Brett Chedzoy, Extension Forester Cooperative Extension Schuyler County,

Joe Orefice, Director of Uihlein Maple Center,

Steve Gabriel, Cornell Small Farms Program,



Ginseng is a high-value crop that can be grown in the right type of forest. Learn how through the series of videos above, and the downloadable guides from former Cornell Extension Educator Bob “Mr Ginseng” Beyfuss.



A Practical Guide to Growing Ginseng is a 25 page booklet that outlines all you need to know to get started.

The Ginseng Visual Site Assessment helps landowners “score” their woods to see if its a good fit.

Getting Started Right for Successful Ginseng Production is a great article that outlines a process of trialing potential sites for production before committing.


Key Contacts:

Tracey Testo, Agroforestry Resource Center of Greene County,


 Cornell Forestry Extension Homepage

The Cornell Forestry Extension Program includes information for forest owners, educators, loggers, and foresters regarding how best to engage in sustainable production on private forest lands.


Key Contacts:

Peter Smallidge, State Extension Forester,