The UMass Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is an endeavor of Stockbridge School of Agriculture students and faculty to research and practice regenerative food production at the Agricultural Learning Center (ALC). Beginning in the Spring of 2018, students designed and installed a chestnut-sheep silvopasture with the support of Professors Lisa DePiano and Nicole Burton. Russell Wallack completed the final digital design maps. The project was initiated on the site of a two acre food forest which was begun in 2016 and left unmaintained.
In its first season, a nursery was started for seeding chestnuts, year old chestnuts were planted in alleys on contour, and six sheep were rotationally grazed between the rows of chestnuts. Students plan to welcome eight sheep to the land as the project’s second season approaches. Priorities include feeding the sheep with onsite resources, improving soil health for chestnut growth, bringing meat to market and cultivating awareness of carbon farming while contributing to the vitality of the ecosystem at the ALC.