Details have been revealed for the UK’s biggest national gathering on agroforestry.

Taking place at Eastbrook Farm on September 6-7 2023, The Soil Association and Woodland Trust are teaming up to host the event. 

Agroforestry has the power to improve biodiversity and soil health, cut carbon emissions and produce healthy nutritious food and sustainable timber.

Here, Ben Raskin head of agroforestry at Soil Association looks forward to the Agroforestry Show and explains what you can expect to see and do.

Explore the fruits of our agroforestry experiments at Eastbrook

"We started our agroforestry at Eastbrook Farm in 2016 and hosting a show, with 1,000 people coming to look at what we have been up to, seems like a good point to reflect on what we have achieved and learnt over that time.

"We have a wide range of tree species and are trialling a variety of designs from grazed woodlands, hedges and shelterbelts, to extensive multi-layered orchards, to rows of trees with rotational grazing and direct-sown cereals in the alleys.

"This is not rewilding (though that has a place) but a productive farm with trees. We are growing food for humans; perry pears and sea buckthorn for instance and even almonds if spring frosts fall victim to climate change, and for animals; browsing blocks of willow and poplar.

"We are also aiming to increase our environmental and productivity performance and resilience. As an example, our mature perry trees will provide shade and shelter for the cows as well as a crop of pears. The alder and willow we have interplanted and aim to coppice will offer browse, soil-improving woodchip and habitat for biodiversity."

Planning the future and lessons learned

"This year we are trialling a roundel system of planting, that like so much of agroforestry is an ancient though somewhat forgotten technique. Perfect for parkland and wood pasture settings, it involves protecting your central tree(s) with circles of protecting trees.

"We’re using birch and alder for quick growth and wind protection as well as some nitrogen fixing. The outer rows include holly, thorn and willow to try and offer some protection through spikes and sacrificial browsing that will deflect pests from eating our prized central species.

"Our big lessons have been around tree establishment. We are generally putting fewer trees in each year than we originally planned, to ensure we can plant properly and look after them.

"We aim to plant early in the season and aim to finish by mid-February, and mulch well with 25cm of woodchip. We haven’t cracked the plastic free guard problem yet but are experimenting with hessian wrap this year.

"We’re really looking forward to showing off what we have achieved at the show, happily sharing our many failures as well as what has worked."

Join the movement

Helen Chesshire, Woodland Trust's lead farm advocate, said: “Interest in agroforestry is growing.

“Through our Trees for Your Farm scheme, the Trust has already helped nearly 250 farmers integrate new and successful projects into their business over the last ten years.

"We know farmers need more advice and support to put agroforestry into practice, so we’re delighted to be co-organisers of the UK’s first agroforestry show. It’s a great opportunity for farmers and foresters to see it in action, share expertise and identify how the two sectors can work together to make it happen at scale.

"It’s time to demystify agroforestry and help it become a mainstream land use across the UK for the good of nature, communities and business.”

Visit now to book your ticket now.

What is agroforestry?

Agroforestry is a set of practices of combining agricultural crops or livestock with trees and shrubs. There are many different types of agroforestry, including:

• hedgerows

• shelterbelts and windbreaks

• alley-cropping

• wood pasture

• woodland and orchard grazing

• food forests.

What to expect at the Agroforestry Show

Ben said: "We will be putting on farm walks, live demonstrations, workshops and inspiring talks from leading agroforesters. We've got lots of exciting plans for The Agroforestry Show."

• Check in to the agroforestry design clinic - Get free and bespoke advice from agroforestry specialists from Soil Association, Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission, Natural England, and Abacus Agriculture. Bring along a map of your farm or agroforestry designs to get new insights and top tips on actioning your ideas.

• Farm walks - Explore on your own or join one of the guided walks led by farm owner Helen Browning, agroforestry manager Ben Raskin, and Association agroforestry advisor Jon Haines.

The Eastbrook Farm team have developed several agroforestry schemes since 2016 which will be showcased, including:

o silvoarable and silvopasture alley cropping

o shelterbelts and hedgerows

o browsing blocks

o extensive fruit and nut orchard

o newly planted wood pasture 'roundels'

o woodland pigs.

• Top speakers from all sectors and industries:

o Helen Browning OBE - Livestock and arable farmer, Wiltshire; CEO, Soil Association

o Martin Lines - Arable farmer, Cambridgeshire, and Chair of Nature Friendly Farming Network

o Ruth Pybus – Forester Broadleaf Wales

o Tim Coates – Co-Founder, Oxbury Bank

o Simon Marrington, Business Development Manager, Tilhill

o Geoff Newman - Agroforestry & Traditional Orchard Senior Specialist, Natural England

o Emma Bird - Agroforestry Project Manager, Woodland Trust

o James Robinson - organic dairy farmer, South Cumbria

Find out more about the programme and book your tickets:

This event is supported by lead partner Sainsburys.