Forestland farming, Forestry, and Christmas trees
Most people think of the valley floor and rolling foothills when they think of farms. But the lower altitude forestland of the Central Sierras (2,000 to 5,000 feet elevation) also hold many opportunities for farming. Sawlogs and lumber have traditionally been the main agriculture product in this region. But historically it has also produced superb fruit, an array of livestock and vegetables, and many specialty forest related products such as Christmas trees and finished wood items.
The radical fluctuations in the timber market, along with increasingly expensive logging permits have refocused attention on other crops. Some of these, such as firewood, Christmas trees, and tree fruit, have a long history. Others such as berries, and cool-season vegetables are new, but are well suited to soil and climate conditions.
There is also a renewed interest in livestock -- particularly high-end, locally produced meat. This includes grass-fed beef, sheep, and increasingly poultry raised on irrigated pasture. It also includes browsing meat goats and sheep on brushland – both as a way to produce salable meat, and as a means of controlling brush and reducing the risk of wildfires.
Within the traditional lumber crops there is increased interest in producing lumber and other tree products on-the farm for local sales, rather than selling raw logs to the large regional sawmills.
Everything considered, there are many opportunities for viable farm businesses in Sierra forestland.
Posted by Allen Edwards, Edwards Family Farm, Colfax, CA