Veterans Creating a Viable Tree Crop Economy in the Northeastern United States

Summer sunrise on the farm. Image courtesy of White Lion Farms Foundation

Veterans Creating a Viable Tree Crop Economy in the Northeastern United States

Bioregion Northern Great Lakes Forests (NA11)
Category Regenerative Agriculture

Our project categories represent one of three core solutions pathways to solving climate change. Energy Transition focuses on renewable energy access and energy efficiency. Nature Conservation includes wildlife habitat protection and ecosystem restoration, as well as Indigenous land rights. Regenerative Agriculture supports farmers, ranchers, and community agriculture.

Realm Northern America

The Project Marketplace is organized by the major terrestrial realms divided into 14 biogeographical regions – N. America, Subarctic America, C. America, S. America, Afrotropics, Indomalaya, Australasia, Oceania, Antarctica, and the Palearctic realm, which coincides with Eurasia and is divided into Subarctic, Western, Central, Eastern, and Southern regions.

Status active

Seed indicates an early stage project that needs some level of support to develop into a larger funding proposal. Active indicates any project that needs core programmatic funding. Urgent indicates a short-term project initiated in response to a natural disaster or other impending risk.

Funding Level $$$$

$$$$ indicates a project between $250,000-$1 million.

Timeframe 2 Years
Partner White Lion Farms

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One Earth’s Project Marketplace funds on-the-ground climate solutions that are key to solving the climate crisis through three pillars of collective action — renewable energy, nature conservation, and regenerative agriculture.

This project by the White Lion Farms Foundation was created in response to the need to introduce regenerative agriculture at scale in the Upstate New York area, as well as respond to the need for training, education, and employment in this emerging sector. Located in Deerfield, NY, on 98 acres, their rural demonstration site is an example of resilient ecological agriculture applied in a cold temperate region.

Image courtesy of White Lion Farms.

Co-founded by US Marine Corps veterans who see White Lion Farms as a continuation of their service and a way to help facilitate the change they wish to see take place across all landscapes by advancing ecological agriculture, the project also seeks to empower America's veterans and improve mental health through horticultural therapy and animal husbandry. It is being both initiated and implemented by veterans transitioning from service who are interested in regenerative agriculture, as well as local community members.

Free-range chickens in nursery rows controlling pests and providing fertilizer. Image courtesy of White Lion Farms.

Upstate NY is a region that has undergone significant economic hardship over the past few decades. With the exception of apple orchards, It is also a region with no significant tree crop economy. Trees used for their oils, such as olives, coconuts, avocados, or hazelnuts, all come from regions outside of the site. The biggest limiting factor is not climate, however, because hazelnuts, chestnuts, hickory, and other crops are grown to provide nutritionally dense food products can be grown here, particularly with the advent of a warming climate.  The limiting factor is that the industry has never been explored here because these tree crops have not been historically understood, nor could all of them previously withstand the winters. They have, therefore, not been planted into the landscape intentionally.

Young flock of Katahdin sheep. Image courtesy of White Lion Farms

The main, tangible goal for the project is to complete the installation of a regenerative system that features tree crops and showcases water management as well as ecological restoration in an agricultural setting. The drawdown of 600 tonnes of CO2 per year is estimated once the system is complete.  The ability to store water on site while not allowing the soil to run into local waterways will be beneficial both to the farm and the entire community.

Pasture raised chicken. Image courtesy of White Lion Farms.

This project will be accomplished utilizing the many relationships that have already been forged with the community by members of the White Lion Farms Foundation. This includes, but is not limited to, the many folks with whom it has planted trees over the years, as well as working on projects to install water management systems.

Bareroot nursery bed where we grow improved genetics native to Northeast US. Image courtesy of White Lion Farms. 

As this project is primarily designed to benefit veterans transitioning from service, its veteran readiness program features working with these individuals. It will also benefit local farmers and farmland in the future because the White Lions Farm site will be able to demonstrate and showcase regenerative design and implementation and discuss the land management issues and challenges faced. (White Lion Farms also has a ¾ acre urban counterpart in Utica, NY, on once degraded and overgrown land that has been transformed into a thriving, food-bearing ecosystem that focuses on ecological water management and edible perennial plant species.)

Summer sunset. Image courtesy of White Lion Farms.

The long-term goal for White Lion Farms is to create a healed and thriving local ecosystem that has the ability to showcase perennial staple crops as a viable means of production agriculture in our region while also healing and empowering America's veterans through horticultural therapy and animal husbandry.

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Your contribution will help ensure the long term success of this important project. Gifts can be made as a tribute to a friend or family member and are tax-deductible for U.S. residents. Please contact us!