Professor Lisa DePiano, in partnership with our neighbor Simple Gifts Farm and the Interlace Commons, will collaborate to develop two educational demonstration sites focused on alley cropping typologies.

Alley cropping, the intentional integration of trees with crops, offers a transformative solution to the ecological and economic challenges facing agriculture.

Alley cropping addresses the effects of climate change such as increased herbivory-related issues, drought, and wind-related events while preserving ecosystems within agricultural land, reducing land degradation, improving biodiversity, and increasing the economic viability of farm operations.

Despite the current and predicted climate-related challenges, and the science-based evidence supporting alley cropping as a shovel-ready climate mitigation and adaptation tool, this practice’s broad adoption is limited in the Northeast.

The Stockbridge Agricultural Learning Center will host the alley cropping demo site on campus, allowing our students full access to emergent climate adaptation strategies in farmwork.

The goal of this project is to provide demonstration that is essential to alley cropping’s broad adoption as the lack of alley cropping systems in the ground is a significant barrier to broad adoption in the Northeast. This project will allow the academic, agricultural, and broader community to see the ways trees can be combined with crops, and how this practice is used to diversify income, protect or enhance ecosystem function, and respond to the realities of our changing climate.

Funding for the project will come from a $30k grant awarded by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Partnership. The full proposal is available on the Northeast SARE website.