Agroforestry Open Weekend: Wakelyns

The Agroforestry Open Weekend has become a fixture in the calendar – now in its 4th year of celebrating the growing global community of agroforestry farms and farming. Initiated by David and Amanda Wolfe at Wakelyns it has grown from six farms in 2021 to 41 taking part in 2024. What’s more, it has gone international with farms from Finland and Costa Rica opening their gates to visitors.

The ORC Agroforestry team spent the weekend of 18-19 May at Wakelyns – what can be considered the home of agroforestry in the UK – in Suffolk, with Will Simonson, Colin Tosh and Christian Gossel manning a stand.

ORC information stand at Wakelyns Agroforestry Open Weekend

We were able to chat about our work at Wakelyns including our participation in AGROMIX an EU-wide project studying the long term impacts of agroforestry at 9 of the most established sites across Europe, and REFOREST.

Our new updated booklet Wakelyns Agroforestry: Resilience through diversity was launched on the day and proved popular with visitors. It showcases ORC’s research at Wakelyns and developments since 2020, including David and Amanda’s enterprise stacking model.

David and Amanda Wolfe with ORC's Will Simonson and the updated Wakelyns Agroforestry booklet.
David and Amanda Wolfe with ORC’s Will Simonson (centre) and the updated Wakelyns Agroforestry booklet.

The diversity that the agroforestry system offers Wakelyns, together with the human scale, makes it perfect for enterprise stacking.

“stacked enterprises link back to the farm and create economic, health, environmental and social synergies that are more than the sum of their parts.”

Thompson, 2023

Sheep have just arrived as one more enterprise stacked onto the farm. They will graze the ley alleys, adding an extra layer of productivity to the operation. The flock is being managed by local shepherdess Rosie Howes and will be sold under a new Wakelyns Organic Lamb brand.

Sheep grazing between the agroforestry rows
Sheep grazing between the short rotation coppice agroforestry rows at Wakelyns

Around 300 people had registered for the weekend at Wakelyns, reflecting the increase in interest and support for agroforestry. Government policy support seems to be catching up, with Defra announcing on Tuesday an ‘Expanded and improved Sustainable Farming Incentive offer for farmers’, with more options available for agroforestry – for low or very low density in-field trees.

View across Wakelyns alleys through trees
View across the Wakelyns alleys through the trees

Events like the Agroforestry Open Weekend are great for farmers to see agroforestry in action and to be inspired and to think about what their own farms and projects could look like. Wakelyns continues to be a beacon of light, illuminating a possible more agroecological farming future. If you get a chance to visit then take it.

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