Perennial cropping is a core function of the regenerative poultry system both ecologically and economically. The perennial crops that thrive in conjunction with poultry are hazelnuts and elderberries. From an ecological standpoint, these woody shrubs play a critical role in cycling the farm’s energy while restoring the soil and providing shelter to the chickens and wild birds alike. Economically, hazelnuts and elderberries provide farmers with additional streams of revenue. Though they take a few years to develop, once established, hazelnut and elderberry shrubs produce exponential yields with little to no upkeep.
Hazelnuts are a resilient understory and are native to most of the US, Europe and Canada. The American Hazelnut provides the benefits of shade and protection from predators, while the root system helps to process poultry manure, supporting micro and macro biological systems at a large scale. One acre of hazelnuts can cycle upwards of 300lbs of nitrogen and produce 3000lbs of in-shell nuts. Shelled hazelnuts can be enjoyed roasted or in a variety of spreads and other confections. American hazelnut is 81% oleic acid, making it one of the one of the healthiest eating oils as well as a highly promising feedstock for biodiesel production.
Elderberries are a resilient understory and are native to most of the US, Europe, and Canada. Elderberries are tall, vigorous shrubs that take only three years to mature, at which point they can produce upwards of 10lbs of dark purple berries per plant, or 4000 lbs per acre. Much higher than other berries in Vitamins A, C, and antioxidants, elderberry juice and extracts have been used to treat common colds, flu, and other ailments for millenia. Currently, the majority of the world’s elderberries come from Europe, but elderberry production in the US is experiencing a resurgence thanks both in part to the shrub’s role in sustainable agriculture, as well as consumer demand for fresh, minimally processed food.
Tree-Range ® farmers are encouraged to plant annual croppings of feed and vegetables as well. A rotation that we have identified to be particularly productive in the upper midwest is garlic, tomatillo, and oats. When aggregated, marketed, and distributed as a collective, these premium crops provide additional revenue to farmers and the rest of the supply chain. While we shy away from corn and soy, we have identified massive potential in regenerative production of small grains for use in poultry feed.
Together we will reshape modern agriculture by building an ecosystem of agricultural businesses and individuals working together toward regeneration.