Forest Farming in Southern Appalachia

For a number of years, I have been working with permaculture techniques, expanding my personal farming experience for self-sufficiency and natural homeostasis.

It started with little things like helping some indigenous medicinal plants on my property thrive better in the locations I found them. Then, I started planting medicinal and edibles for future use; things such as pawpaw, plantain, blackberry, blueberry, blood root and more.

In the last few years I’ve expanded to mushroom logs, and spreading spores within my forested property and added more medicinal plants. I’ve never been focused on esthetic plants for visual pleasure, unless they were also useful in some way, by being edible or medicinal.

Evidently, I am a forest farmer, at least for personal use at this point. I didn’t even realize forest farming was such a vital aspect of farming. After getting into buying seeds for these rare medicinal plants, I started learning about agroforestry, or forest farming. This is the essence of indigenous cultural knowledge around the world, maybe even the precursor of what we know now as agriculture.

Blue Oyster Mushrooms grown on inoculated Poplar logs

Think about it, before our ancestors were farming in fields and plots, we were probably forest farming and using permaculture techniques.

This is a well-known aspect of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, for example. Recent discoveries have found that much of the Amazon was in the past a huge food forest, cared for and expanded by the indigenous peoples of that time and place.

Forest farming for me is an act of resistance and connection to my ancestors and nature itself.

William A. Rodriguez – Owner of Archaic Farmstead

What could be more pure than mimicking nature to help certain plants that have some beneficial partnership with humanity? Agroforestry has nature conservation at it’s core, because these types of farming techniques don’t destroy natural habitat in forests, but expand them.

Naturally grown Japanese Wasabi at Archaic Farmstead

So, I have decided to start expanding my farm to help provide important medicinal and edible plants to the public through agroforestry practices. I will be mainly focused on wild simulated medicinal plants, which many take years to get large enough to harvest commercially. So, this will take time and patience.

Medicinal plant stewardship and wild crafting has been the direction of my herbalist perspective. Now, I am ready to start wild simulated plants and forest gardening journey.

Bloodroot transplants

I’ve recently planted secret patches of ginseng and goldenseal to test my ability to produce enough material to sell. But medicinal plants like that are long term investments.

I am also expanding my forest farmed mushrooms; plugging more lions’ mane, oyster, and reishi logs. At this point, next spring I should have enough blue oyster to start selling them, and perhaps a few other species of mushrooms as well.

One of my recent additions have been forest farmed Japanese wasabi. This has been a really fun endeavor, watching this plant grown and thrive in cold running creek water is amazing. The moments of zen achieved by working a wasabi plot directly in the creek is hard to express via written word.

So here is a video for your viewing pleasure!

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William Rodriguez

1 thought on “Forest Farming in Southern Appalachia”

  1. Fantastic! I have had the same thoughts, tho i am in the northern end of the Appalachians. Best wishes and keep up the good work!

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