Kevin Wolz, Ph.D.
Originally discovering nature while running through the forest preserves around Chicago, Kevin is passionate about applying ecological concepts to solve environmental issues. He received a PhD studying alley cropping agroforestry systems at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at the University of Illinois, Kevin spearheaded the establishment of several innovative agroforestry experiments. He is also the owner of Midwest Agroforestry Solutions and two innovative agroforestry farms in Central Illinois that grow chestnuts, hazelnuts, and currants.
My Vision is Perennials--Specifically Integrating Trees
Agroforestry has the power to make farmers a source of carbon sequestration. --Kevin Wolz, Ph.D.
We're talking about catalyzing a farm to food system vision for regenerating community health, wealth, resilience and well-being.
In this interview I talk with Kevin Wolz, founder and Co-Executive Director of The Savanna Institute. The Savanna Institute is laying the groundwork for widespread adoption of agroforestry in the Midwest. Agroforestry is the planting of tree crops for harvest. In the Midwest, this specifically means nut trees like Chestnuts and Hazelnuts, and berrying perennial shrubs like Elderberry.
Kevin's vision is widespread adoption of agroforestry integrated into row crops in borders and in alleys between rows. Because nut trees take up to 10 years to mature and bear a harvestable crop, these are longer term investments for farm land owners. But the benefits of integrating tree crops on farmland, especially along riparian (river) corridors is immense for water quality, wildlife, and to draw down carbon.
Kevin talks about the barriers to farmer adoption of agroforestry and why farmers themselves are not the most likely candidates to decide to plant trees. He discusses the resources available to those seeking to integrate agroforestry practices--including government resources available to every farmer.
Currently the U.S. imports more nuts that we grow. He talks about how he aims to change this to give U.S. growers access to this expanding market. With the current increase in interest and investment in Chestnuts and Hazelnut tree cropping, there will be a need for more processing in just a few years. Kevin tells us what is needed to meet this demand and bring agroforestry and its many benefits to mainstream agriculture.
Please enjoy my conversation with Kevin to learn how we can catalyze and support a regenerative farming and food system that works for everyone.
Don't forget, I’ve created a special Our Food Is Our Future Facebook Group where you can join the conversation and share your reflections, questions and ideas about creating a healthier farming and food system.
Here's to a healthier farming and food system for us all,