It almost seems a little late to be doing a spring wildflower article, but I’m reminded that it really is still early spring when I walk in the woods around central Wisconsin. There is something wonderful about seeing the color, sometimes poking through the snow. The green of spring is refreshing, but the yellow of the marsh marigolds celebrates the coming warm sun. Even better, some of these early spring plants provide a tasty treat as we get ready to plant and harvest our own gardens.
In past blog entries, we discussed both agroforestry and non-timber forest products. This month, we’ll spend a little time combining the two with an introduction to hazelnuts. Anyone who has had the pleasure of harvesting wild hazelnuts, and adding them to baked goods, knows how tasty these nuts are. They are even tastier in Nutella, yum. Although 90% of the hazelnuts we see in commercial products are grown in Turkey, and another 4% in Oregon, Wisconsin and Minnesota are seeing a rise in the production as well.
In an earlier post, I introduced the concept of agroforestry. In this post, I will expand on what agroforestry is, and how it is being used here in Wisconsin. Although this post may seem very agricultural centered, I should point out a few things. One, many woodlots are associated with farmsteads, and are not seen as a profit center for the farm, though they could be. Two, landowners are finding the costs of owning land to be so high that they lease their land to neighboring farms. Is there a way for both owner and farmer to benefit in ways they each want or need to use the property? Three, some of these are more forest centered (see forest farming), and can be a new way for woodland owners to spend time in their woods.