Reply To: Agroforestry is the solution!!!

  • Oscar Regen Tribe 🔺

    July 28, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    Want to plant an agroforestry system that improves local biodiversity while producing food on your farm, lawn, or field?


    Want to plant a biodiverse, native agroforestry system that sequesters carbon and grows food on your farm, lawn, or field? Contour Lines Corp is now accepting applications for agroforestry tree grants in the United States and other countries. Visit us at to apply. And continue reading to learn about these systems…

    We’re often asked why we construct berms and swales for our Contour Lines USA agroforestry projects. The simple answer is MANY reasons, including soil regeneration, water conservation, labor reduction, and improved growing conditions.

    Contour Lines is fundamentally a soil conservation organization. We provide grants of trees and technical assistance to farmers in exchange for the farmer implementing certain soil conservation practices. In the USA one of those practices is digging swales. These ditches dug on contour capture organic matter including soil, leaves, grass clippings, and manure that would otherwise erode and wash away in heavy rains and strong winds. Over time these ditches will fill with a rich mixture of nutrients that will feed our trees and keep our waterways clean. At Contour Lines we believe that building soil is equivalent to building wealth and is essential for food sovereignty and security.

    Soil isn’t the only thing our swales capture. Each yard of 18×18 inch swale can hold over 50 gallons of water. This retained water will hydrate the landscape as it gradually percolates into the soil and even helps recharge aquifers. This strategy has enormous potential for restoring watersheds as so many areas are experiencing drought, water restrictions and wild fires. In Contour Lines projects our swales act as free irrigation systems.

    Contour Lines builds berms and swales because time is money. Over years of planting pilot projects and experimentation we have found that utilizing berms and swales greatly reduces the cost of planting and maintaining trees. When planting as many trees as we do, it must be done efficiently. It takes endurance to plant thousands of trees in a day, and we learned early on that it won’t happen by digging holes with shovels. We’ve experimented with tractors, augers, various hand tools, and backhoes while recording our hours. We found that tree planting is far faster if we dug the swales first with a mini excavator, which also softens the soil. In addition, in our pilot projects without berms/swales, the greatest labor cost came from controlling weeds with mowers, weed eaters, and hand pulling. However, when we excavate swales we terminate any grasses or weeds and burry their seeds. The berm is then capped with subsoil from 18 inches deep, which is mostly free of weed seeds and root systems that sprout. Therefore we have a lot of control over what grows in our swales. Furthermore, our projects use cover crops and mulch to suppress weeds and help our trees grow quickly without the countless hours of fighting mother nature.

    Finally our berms simply grow great trees, and they do it fast. The berms are a perfect habitat for our trees. The roots grow uninterrupted in the aerated de-compacted soil, while the swales provide a source of water and nutrients. Also the berms contain double topsoil, both what was naturally occurring and what was piled on top as the swales were excavated.

    At Contour Lines we pride ourselves on our ability to get things done efficiently and effectively. Our projects have proven consistently to have near-perfect survival rates of our seedlings, and we have yet to see another diverse agroforestry system get established cheaper. If you are interested in working with Contour Lines and receiving a free tree planting grant, you’re welcome to apply online at:

    Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Living Web Farms Modern Harvest Farms Agroforestry Regeneration Communities North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC) Appalachian Sustainable Development – ASD One Tree Planted Andrew Weisberg Sean Dixon-Sullivan Tommy Turok Skylar Mathison Contour Lines Center

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