Northeast Silvopasture Case Studies


With support from the USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC), a collaboration of Regenerative Design Group, Wellspring Forest Farm, and Inhabit Films announce the release of a free video series documenting Silvopasture systems in the Northeastern USA.

Silvopasture (grazing livestock with trees) systems are complex, dynamic and site specific. The practice is both rooted in indigenous land stewardship and its benefits are well documented by scientific literature. Adoption by farmers and land stewards of silvopasture is currently low, but growing in interest

This project began with an inventory of self-identified silvopasture practitioners in the Northeast US region. A total of 145 respondents across 9 states (ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, NY, RI, NJ, PA) reported stewarding 27,000 acres, with 5,300 of those acres in Silvopasture. From these respondents a range of examples were selected for videos and case studies to offer a snapshot of the practice along with ideas and inspiration for others to follow.

Videos will be released biweekly through the Farming with Trees collective, a decentralized network encouraging collaborative projects in Agroforestry that are grounded in the wisdom and knowledge of people, communities and ecosystems. Find out more at and Join our Email List to receive an email when a new video is released on the website and YouTube Playlist

Our immense gratitude for the farmers who agreed to share their experiences.

This project was made possible by a grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service, National Agroforestry Center (NAC), under the authority of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. All photos by Costa Boutsikaris, Inhabit Films. 2023.

Episode 1: Introduction

An overview of silvopasture and the benefits it offers to climate resileincy for grazing systems, including the use of tree fodder for livestock. 


Episode 2:  Trees for a Meat CSA

Rising Locust has three distinct silvopasture zones— one that focuses on shade and fodder for livestock; one that grows human crops; and one that is primarily restored riparian forest.

Episode 3: Geese in an Orchard

Redbyrd Orchard has been producing on-farm commercial cider since 2010. The farm has 4 acres of productive cider orchards, plus 1.5 acres that were recently planted. The productive orchards are laid out in two high-density blocks (5’-6’ between trees, 15’ row spacing), with perimeter fencing. In Spring, between 20-30 Katahdin sheep graze the first flush of grass. They are followed by a flock of 20 geese, who remain for the summer. After harvest, the sheep return to clean up unwanted drops and eat grass down before winter, reducing habitat for voles and other pests.

Episode 4: Thinning the Woods for Silvopasture

Apple Creek Farm is a second generation farm managed by Abby Sadauckas and Jake Galle. The farm was founded by Jake’s family in 1985, and the family has always seasonally rotated livestock through its woodlands.

Under the current management, additional forested acreage has been selectively thinned to create savannah-like conditions for the farm’s cows, sheep, goats and chickens. Ruminants are moved daily through the silvopasture, while hens are moved weekly.

Episode 5: Trees and Shrubs for Chickens

Sunny Crest Pastures is a diversified farm and grass- fed dairy in Southeast Pennsylvania. In 2021, the farm began integrating trees into their pastures. For the poultry operation, dense hedgerows of fruit trees and shrubs were planted to expand shade, create shelter, and diversify feed for laying hens. 

This project was implemented by Trees for Graziers.

Episode 6: Pigs in the Woodlot

Forks Farm is a diversified livestock operation in Northeast PA that uses a

silvopasture system primarily for the farm’s hogs. The system takes advantage of the open sunny conditions initially created from thinning—and more recently from ash mortality—to support forage. Hogs are rotated through woodlot paddocks from spring to fall, where they root for grubs, graze on pasture mixes, and glean mast.

Once they have cleared a paddock, pasture mixes are sown. The hogs spend just enough time to ‘cultipack’ the seed mix before moving to another paddock. After hogs are harvested in the fall, chicken and cattle rotated through the silvopasture.

Episode 7: Dairy Goats in the Woods

Painted Pepper Farm is on the coast of Dyer Harbor in Maine. The farm, which includes the on-site creamery Dairy Delights, is owned and operated by Lisa Reilich. Lisa’s herd of 70 Nigerian dwarf dairy goats forage in the wooded pastures 7 months out of the year (roughly May 1st to November 1st), benefiting from a diverse diet of deciduous and coniferous tree browse, fruit drops, pasture grasses, and supplemental seaweed harvested during low tide. If there is no snow cover in other months, the goats will continue to browse on fir tips and other plants.

Episode 8: Trees for Dairy Cows

Springwood Dairy is a 200- head, 100% grass-fed dairy in southern PA. In 2020
and 2021, 3000 trees were planted across 60 acres of Springwood’s pastures. Tree rows are widely spaced to accommodate machinery used in this large-scale mechanized dairy.

Episode 9: Sheep in the Sugarbush

In operation since 1984, Sweet Sourland Farms—a small-scale maple syrup, lumber, and heritage sheep farm in central NJ— began integrating livestock and woodlot managment over a decade ago.

Initially, meat goats were employed in land clearing and invasive species managment after a pine timber harvest. Today, Barbados Blackbelly sheep rotate through the woodlot, keeping invasives in check and clearing around sap lines in the sugar bush.

Episode 10: Wool Sheep in the Orchard

Meadowfed Lamb is part of a farming cooperative at Preservation Orchard in Hadley, MA. Their flocks of dual purpose Finnsheep, layers, and broiler chickens help manage the orchards that supply fruit and nuts for Carr’s Ciderhouse. Sheep (~30 head) are given enough pasture to graze every 24 hours. Three 8’x12’ chicken tractors, each with 50 broilers, follow the sheep, adding fertility and pest control services.

This relationship is mutually beneficial—Meadowfed was able to move into an already established orchard and pasture, while Carr’s has benefited from the mowing, pest control, and fertility the livestock provide.

Grower Panel (March 22, 2024)

On March 22 from 12:30 - 2pm, Wellspring Forest Farm hosted a live panel discussion via ZOOM with four of the farmers where participants are invited to join and ask questions of the farmers. 

Participating farms include:

Eric Shatt of RedByrd Orchard, Trumansburg NY

Charlize and Bru Katzenbach of Sweet Sourland Farm, NJ

John Hopkins, forester from Susquehanna Tree Care, and former owner of Forks Farm, PA

Lisa Reilich of Painted Pepper Farm, ME

Download Case Study Sheets

Download a PDF with written details on each farm's silvopasture practices.

Reflections on the Project

We acknowledge that the examples presented in this project do not represent all the folks engaging in or interested in silvopasture practice and that there are complex and intersecting issues that challenged us and were discussed at length, including:

1. Participants were willing to self-identify as practicing silvopasture and had the time and access to complete our initial survey and felt comfortable with their projects being documented on video.

2. Of the dozens of amazing people who did respond, we wer only able to highlight a few. There are so many great farm and farmers doing amazing work - hopefully they can be shown in future efforts. This is merely a snapshot in time. 

2. Not everyone recognizes the word “silvopasture” and may practice a form of animal / tree integration as part of their family or cultural history 

3. Land access and tenure is a substantial barrier for many people to plant and tend long term systems involving trees, which limits who can engage with silvopasture.

4. Modern farms and landscapes were once tended by a wide range indigenous communities, who suffered tremendous loss of land, language, and culture from colonization. This legacy has shaped both the ecology and the people remaining on the vast landscapes of the Northeast US today. 

5. As the United States developed, a multitude of systemic efforts based in racism led to substantial barriers for land ownership, resulting in overwhelming ownership of land in the Northeast US by white people (98%).

Throughout the project, our team engaged in reflection and conversation on the above aspects related to the work and ultimately were left with more questions than answers. This project had capacity to document current efforts in silvopasture but not address all these issues within the scope of the project. We carry forward an awareness of this in future work.