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Alley Cropping Can Double Profitability
Meghan Giroux, director of Interlace Commons, is heading a program to promote Alley Cropping, the practice of interspersing rows of trees with farm crops.
Interlace Commons recently joined forces with PASA Sustainable Agriculture to provide grants to train farmers in alley cropping. Three Pennsylvania farms are enrolled in the program.
It might seem counterintuitive to pair trees and cash crops together, but many researchers think otherwise.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of alley cropping is its potential to double the productivity of cropland while improving its health in the long run. As Giroux explains, “Many times, conservation efforts seem to be at the expense of profitability for farmers. With alley cropping, we show farmers that conservation and production can go hand-in-hand.”
One of Interlace Common’s current test sites is Weaver’s Way, a co-op in Philadelphia. There, the organization is converting an old orchard into an alley cropping system with annual crops planted in rows between the established trees. The idea is to provide the orchard with additional harvest opportunities as it waits for the fruit to ripen.
There will be two training events at Weavers Way in the fall of 2022 for all farmers interested in alley cropping. Each will provide an opportunity to learn about the advantages of this practice and the benefits of planting trees vs. rehabilitating existing ones. Registration and further information are available at www.pasafarming.org.
Interlace Commons is also working on a book, available soon, about their agroforestry and alley cropping research.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Meghan Giroux, Interlace Commons (info@interlacecommons.org).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #5