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Peace of Eden Farm Incorporates Trees in Silvopasture

1/28/2024 By: Jeff Boshart

Peace of Eden Farm Incorporates Trees in Silvopasture

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Peggy and Jeff Boshart live on Peace of Eden Farm, located west of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Glacial drumlins accentuate the landscape. The poorest soils in the area are not very suitable for crop production and are often covered with oak, hickory, and cherry woodlots. Peggy's family purchased this farm when she was in middle school. Jeff was a city kid from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, but who grew up in a family that enjoyed camping, birdwatching, and gardening. They met as interns in Florida at a Christian non-profit organization called ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization). Later, they served as intern supervisors in Haiti for ECHO, and as community development coordinators in the Dominican Republic for the Church of the Brethren.

 

Fifteen years ago, the Bosharts moved to Wisconsin and built a home on a corner of her parent's 200-acre farm. Peggy's parents have  gradually turned over part of the farm - first about 3 acres of cropland that was converted to vegetable gardens, a small orchard, and a pasture for a few sheep and a small chicken flock, and recently 37 more acres that contain a several acre woodlot. Immediately, with the help of a government grant, 20 acres were planted in permanent pasture and divided up by electric fencing into smaller sections for rotational grazing. Produce from the farm is sold at several local farmers markets. Vegetable production, primarily salad greens in the colder months, and tomatoes in the summer, is year-round with the aid of high tunnels. Lamb, eggs, fruit, apple cider, and maple syrup round out the seasonal offerings.

 

In the 1990's in preparation for overseas work, Peggy and Jeff received Masters' degrees from Cornell University. Peggy focused her studies on animal nutrition and Jeff on Adult Education, both in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Jeff took several classes that touched on agroforestry in both tropical and temperate settings. The term agroforestry encompasses a variety of practices, all of which include the intentional integration of both tree products and crop or animal farming in farming systems on the same piece of land. Through proper design and species selections, agroforestry systems offer both short- and long-term financial opportunities, wildlife habitat, and synergistic interactions that mimic nature. Funding to establish tree plantings is available through grants from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).


One category of agroforestry that combines Peggy's love of working with animals and Jeff's love of planting trees is known as silvopasture. Silvopasture is the practice of integrating trees and livestock production on the same field. Plans are in the works to begin a silvopastoral demonstration in one of the pastures, with trees being planted with wide spacing to mimic a temperate savanna ecosystem. Jeff reached out for advice on spacing and tree species selection from the Savanna Institute in nearby Madison, Wisconsin.

 

Caring for God's creation is what brought Peggy and Jeff together and is the motivation behind all that they do. Their two teenagers share this passion as both are looking to further their studies in environmental science. The Bosharts also expect to have solar panels installed on their barn later this year. The goal of the farm is to serve their local community by providing healthy food, as well as being good neighbors to their global community by capturing carbon through the conversion of cropland to permanent pasture, along with tree planting. 


Are you pursuing a tree-planting project in your community? Do you want to be part of Mennonite Men's JoinTrees project to plant one million trees by 2030? Send us an email and let us know what you're working on at info@mennonitemen.org


 
   
               
   

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