July No. 3

Ornamental Foliage Production under Oak Tree Shade

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There are many growers involved in Florida's fern and ornamental foliage business, but not many use forest farming techniques to raise sun-sensitive plants. Homer and Rose McMillen, owners of Arbors of Ivy nursery near DeLand, Florida, have successfully practiced forest farming for over 30 years.

The McMillens were a highlight of o­ne of the field tours conducted during the recent World Congress of Agroforestry in Orlando. Sarah Workman of the University of Georgia organized and led the field trip, which also included a visit to the Ocala National Forest.

    'Sprengeri' asparagus ferns are o­ne of the ornamental foliage crops raised in the shade of native myrtle oak trees at the Arbors of Ivy Nursery near DeLand, Florida.. (Photo by M. Merwin)

Arbors of Ivy produces more than 70 varieties of ornamental foliage which they cut and ship to order. They are o­ne of the nation's largest suppliers of cut ivy, offering over 40 different varieties. Garlands are a specialty business for Arbors of Ivy along with ivy baskets, ivy topiaries and herbs.

Central Florida is the center of a large fern and cut foliage industry which, according to the Commissioner of Agriculture, generated sales of over $85 million (1997) from more than 7,000 acres.

For many of their field grown plants, the McMillens take advantage of natural shade afforded by native, evergreen myrtle oak trees (Quercus myrtifolia) that cover much of their 40 acre property. Many different species of shade-tolerant plants are grown in the understory below the oaks, such as asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus "Sprengeri") and hydrangea (Hydrangea sp.).

For more information, contact the nursery at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their website, www.arbors-of-ivy.com.

By Miles Merwin, Editor

Opportunities for Agroforestry in the Drylands of the Southwestern US and Northwestern Mexico

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Agroforestry practices suited to the dryland regions of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico are reviewed in this summary. More specifically, silvopastoralismhome gardenswindbreak plantings, and multiple-use ofriparian ecosystems are briefly discussed in terms of their role in sustainability, where they are found, how they function, and their benefits to people. While production benefits are emphasized, these functions cannot be separated from the environmental benefits gained from these agroforestry practices.

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George Owens: Silvopasture Pioneer

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"Change is necessary to remain in production agriculture today," George Owens, proprietor of George C. Owens Farms near Chipley, Florida, told the first World Congress of Agroforestry in Orlando, FL.

George is a pioneer in the development of silvopastoral management, starting in 1981 when he "took a chance o­n something new" by planting trees into livestock pasture. He continues to operate the oldest known silvopasture enterprise in the Southeast which extends over 150 acres of his farm in north Florida.

      Cattle graze within a loblolly pine silvopasture at the George C. Owens Farms near Chipley, Florida. (Photo courtesy George Owens)

In his experience over many years, Owens has observed that when cattle prices are low, timber prices are generally high, and vice versa. Combined management allows him the flexibility to sell cattle, calves and/or timber in any given year, George said, and helps insulate him from low prices in any o­ne market.

Establishment and Management

Owens described how he establishes a silvopasture by planting loblolly pine trees into shade-tolerant bahia grass pasture. Trees are initially planted in twin rows with 40 ft. alleys in between (about 450 stems per acre). Livestock are introduced at age 3 when the trees can resist grazing. He said that chemical lice control helps preclude the damage cattle can do by rubbing trees.

Rotational grazing methods are used, Owens said, to harvest not more than 50% of available forage at any o­ne time. This helps maintain optimal pasture growth. Pine straw is harvested between 5-10 years after planting and provides a lucrative cash crop prior to timber revenue, he said, returning from $50 to $200 per acre per year.

At age 11, George thins the stand to 150-200 stems per acre; harvested trees are sold to the nearby pulp mill. The remaining trees are pruned to a 4 inch diameter top, he said, for a final target product of veneer logs to be felled at 20 years of age.

Although the opportunities are attractive, George Owens said that more landowners have not adopted silvopasture because of the inherent "resistance to change in production agriculture." In addition to managing his own lands, he advises others throughout the Southeast o­n how to improve their farm management with practices such as silvopasture, pine straw production, "bio-brush control" with meat goats, and wildlife habitat enhancement. For more information, visit his website, www.silvopasture.com.

By Miles Merwin, Editor

University of Florida Hosts International Agroforestry Meeting

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"Peace and stability in the world cannot be built o­n human misery in the Third World." Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug concluded his inaugural address with those words to the delegates attending the first World Congress of Agroforestry in Orlando, Florida. He said that agroforestry will continue to have an important role in alleviating both poverty and environmental degradation in low-income countries.

Diverse examples of agroforestry used by rural people around the world, both to improve their livelihoods and the environment, were highlighted by this international gathering of agroforestry scientists, educators, policy makers and practitioners. A total of nearly 600 delegates came from 82 different countries to attend the Congress from June 27 to July 2.

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Call for Papers: "Moving Agroforestry into the Mainstream"

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The Ninth North American Agroforestry Conference of the Association for Temperate Agroforestry (AFTA) will be held June 12 - June 15, 2005 at the Kahler Grand Hotel, Rochester, Minnesota. The theme for this conference, Moving Agroforestry into the Mainstream, is intended to attract those people interested in the production and environmental benefits of agroforestry.

The event is co-sponsored by the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management (CINRAM) at the University of Minnesota, Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council in Southwestern Wisconsin, and AFTA.

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