Presenter Sessions & Bios

John Fike

SESSION DESCRIPTION: Spend time with John learning firsthand about the opportunities and challenges of silvopasture. Also, work with him to help to assess the success and address maintenance needs of the 30-acre silvopasture at Catawba, where cattle graze among a variety of native trees ranging from black walnut to short-leaf pine. Lastly, John will spend a little time describing hemp trials at the farm and demonstrate key considerations for plant performance and provenance selection.

INSTRUCTOR BIO: John Fike is a faculty member in Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. He also serves as Virginia’s forage extension specialist and the state’s hemp extension specialist.  John grew up on a family dairy farm in Franklin County and has a BS in science education, an MS in forage agronomy, and a PHD in ruminant nutrition. John joined the faculty at Virginia Tech in 2000. Along with research on industrial hemp, he conducts research on forages and silvopastures (the integration of trees and pasture systems).

Mark Jones

SESSION DESCRIPTION: Join Mark exploring how fungi and microbes provide opportunities to support and grow biodiversity in agroforestry systems, as well as enhance ecosystem services, provide food and medicine, and advance biological farming. Also learn about ways to improve your operation through on-farm research. Discussions and demonstrations include methods for amplifying native mycorrhizal fungi for transplant production of perennial agroforestry crops, and bioprospecting indigenous microbes for soil, plant, and animal health. Hands-on activities at the Catawba Farm with Mark include integrating fungi into perennial plantings and riparian buffers and a basic introduction to outdoor mushroom cultivation on logs, and other forest byproducts. You will leave with an understanding of the basic ways to capture fungi and other microbes to diversify your farm and to use as solutions to grow regenerative agriculture through agroforestry and other biological farming practices.

INSTRUCTOR BIO: Mark Jones is the owner and mycologist at Sharondale Mushroom Farm in Cismont, VA. Sharondale grows the highest quality certified organic mushrooms and organic mushroom spawn. Sharondale Farm is a United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary for medicinal plants and mushrooms.  Sharondale offers workshops, tools and supplies for mushroom and microbial cultivation.

Keefe Keeley

KEYNOTE TITLE: We do not farm for bread alone: Making a living and a livable world with agroforestry

DESCRIPTION: It seemed simple: grow food. In the twenty-first century, however, awareness is growing that we depend on farmers for more than material goods. We need farmland to sequester carbon, to filter water, and to provide wildlife habitat. We also need farms to inspire us with their beauty, to cultivate our respect and awe of the more-than-human, and to light the pathways to a more just and prosperous world. I look forward to sharing stories of farmers who have taken all this to heart and are working on making a living and a livable world with agroforestry.

SPEAKER BIO: Keefe Keeley, co-Executive Director of the Savanna Institute, works to advance agroforestry as a profitable land use and climate solution in the Midwest. In previous engagements he has worked with farmers in 15 countries, including as a Watson Fellow studying agricultural ethics. He holds degrees in biology from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and in agroecology from University of Wisconsin, where he also has a forthcoming dissertation on silvopasture.

John Munsell

SESSION DESCRIPTION: Spend time with John learning about the benefits of windbreaks (aka, shelterbelts) and working through a windbreak design exercise on more than 40 acres of fields at the Catawba farm. You will learn your pace count and how to use it to estimate distance as you walk a field to study its windbreak needs. You also will learn how to design windbreak plantings, ranging from the useful number of rows and tree species to ways to ensure appropriate windbreak orientation and density and height. After finishing the exercise, John will discuss non-point nutrient management in Virginia and cover how the Catawba farm is helping Virginia farms become nutrient management leaders.

INSTRUCTOR BIO: John is an Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech University. He is Past-President of the Association for Temperate Agroforestry and Associate Editor for Agroforestry Systems. John teaches agroforestry and permaculture at Virginia Tech, and has worked with communities from Appalachia to Cameroon to support agroforestry implementation. He is co-author of The Community Food Forest Handbook published by Chelsea Green and a chapter on forest farming in the forthcoming textbook North American Agroforestry: An Integrated Science and Practice, 3rd ed. John has been planting and teaching at the Catawba Sustainability Center since 2008.

Steven Kruger

SESSION DESCRIPTION: Learn about different site preparation methods for farming woodland botanicals with Steven. There you will help him non-destructively sample and weigh goldenseal plants receiving different topsoil treatments to test whether using direct or broadcast applications make a difference in establishment. Then walk to a nearby field and learn about the wholesale crop production model at Catawba that utilizes cover crops for nutrient exchange by fixing nitrogen and creating green manure, while also eliminating the farm’s need for chemical applications.

Steve Kruger is a Postdoctoral Associate at Virginia Tech, where he studies Agroforestry and Appalachian nontimber forest products. He also co-teaches Virginia Tech’s agroforestry course, and works on outreach and applied research at the Catawba Sustainability Center. He earned a Ph.D. in Forestry from Virginia Tech in 2018.

Katie Trozzo

SESSION DESCRIPTION: In her session at the Agroforestry and Whole Farm Multiday Field Intensive, Katie will lead participants in activities that cover design, installation, and maintenance of multi-functional riparian buffers and upland contour alley cropping. Participants will visit existing plantings at the Catawba farm and will have a chance to work through hands-on exercises that help them learn how to apply concepts present in those designs.

INSTRUCTOR BIO: Katie Trozzo is a PhD candidate at Virginia Tech and co-owner of Kindred Roots Design Collective. Her research focuses on the potential of non-timber forest products for community development in Appalachia and the extent of forest farming interest across Southwest Virginia. In her work with Kindred Roots she combines permaculture design with shamanic land healing to create plans for land-based projects that create abundance for people while being in balance with what the earth can support.

Adam Taylor

INSTRUCTOR BIO: Adam Taylor is the manager of the Catawba Sustainability Center. He is a native of Tazewell County Virginia, and earned his B.A. in Environmental Studies at Emory & Henry College, and a Masters of Agriculture at Oklahoma State University. He has worked as a farm intern for author Barbara Kingsolver and husband Steven Hopp on their 100+ acre farm in Meadowview, VA producing vegetables for restaurants, and tending to sheep, turkeys, and chickens. He also served two years in the Peace Corps as a Forestry Extension Agent in Mkushi, Zambia installing demonstration plots and leading workshops on conservation agriculture in an effort to increase food security and prevent deforestation. Adam is also the owner/operator of Singing Spring Farm in Craig County, Virginia where he and his wife Eliza run a highly diverse farm that includes mixed vegetables, meat and egg laying chickens, meat and dairy goats, and meat and wool sheep. Before joining the ranks of Virginia Tech, Adam worked as a project coordinator in West Virginia for both the WV Farmers Market Association and the WV Food & Farm Coalition. There he designed and delivered agricultural workshops geared toward production for direct to consumer markets, as well as advocated for state policy change to support the state’s local food economy.