Agroforestry Resource Center
This fall, the Northeast’s first Agroforestry Resource Center opened in the Greene County town of Acra. The purpose of this state-of-the-art facility, sponsored through funding and technical support by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County (CCE), the Watershed Agricultural Council, and the USDA Forest Service, is to educate the public about healthy forests and healthy use of the forest. “Classes offered at the Center will teach people about everything from harvesting timber to cultivating ginseng,” said Kevin Brazill, WAC’s Forestry Program Manager.
At the foot of the mountains along busy Rt 23, the Agroforestry Research Center is well-located for attracting tourists, second home owners (who frequently hold forested land), and other Catskills visitors. It provides a “one stop shop” to demonstrate the many values of the forest to large numbers of people. Distance learning technology enables people to connect from around the globe, which will become increasingly important as scientists, landowners and policy makers tackle the complex land-use issues facing forestry today.
The Center sponsors educational programs and research that focus on enhancement and protection of forest resources while introducing sustainable practices that enable forest owners to receive economic benefits from their land. “Private landowners control the large majority of New York’s 15.4 million acres of forested land. As the average size of forested parcels decreases (from 44 acres in 1978 to approximately 17 acres today), there are more landowners learning about the many tools they need to be good forest stewards,” commented Brazill.
Workshops will take place on a wide variety of forestry subjects, from “How do I encourage the growth of a sweet sugar maple in my forest?” to “How do I cultivate American Ginseng?” Master Forest Owner Dave Turan of Stamford commented, “It is the only place that I know where all the various parts of a functioning forest ecosystem are viewed as a whole, and each is attributed its due ‘value.’ Landowners who formerly may have focused on timber sales to pay taxes might discover that value-added products from the forest are an equally sustainable alternative.”
In addition, the Agroforestry Resource Center houses a display of wood products and sculptures created by fellow Watershed Forestry Grant recipients. “Our goal with the exhibit is to help people connect everyday objects they want and use forest sustainability– so that there is still a healthy wood supply for the future,” said Collin Miller, WAC’s Forestry Grants administrator. At the grand opening of the Center area businesses displayed a maple wood butcher block kitchen island from Catskill Craftsmen (Stamford); decorative art pieces from Sculptural Furniture (Andes); scroll saw work and wood identification display from Schaefer Wood Products (Deposit); a maple table crafted at Mountain Sun Workshop(Hunter), and a rustic twig-style arbor and bench from Romancing the Woods(Woodstock).
To find out more about the Center and register for classes, contact Extension Educator Marilyn Wyman at (518) 622-9820 or via e-mail at [email protected].
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