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How Do We Identify Products and Markets for Our Farm Forestry?

We now have a fun forestry question. Beth wants to know, how
you approach researching what’s in demand to plant and harvest from a farm forestry system? It seems like identifying
high-value products would be a necessary part of
the success of such as farm. After identifying the desired
yields, how do you determine where to contact the industry to get our products to market? Well, it has to be something that’s locally in demand ideally. This is a hoop pine I
planted 18 years ago. It was a tiny little tree, and now it’s a pretty
straight piece of timber and it won’t be long, maybe 10, 12 years it could be milled as a
high-quality softwood. Just behind me over
here, I have a silky oak, and this is a light-demanding
rainforest tree. It’s a very high-quality timber, quite a hardwood. It has a little speckle in it. It’s a beautiful furniture
timer, window frame timber, windowsill timber, bench timber. Very high value. Definitely in demand. People love the look of this timber. It’s probably a 25 to 50 year harvest, and you could let it go further. Now, in amongst this,
there’s lots of other things. You can see the bamboo behind me. It’s another type of timber, and a lot of the bamboo
can be used a fuel. If I go over this way, we
have an understory here of coffee in amongst the forest. That’s definitely in demand. You don’t have to worry about that one. Organic, understory, forest coffee is in great demand. Very high-quality price for that. Over here, I have a Bunya pine. This is a native tree to Australia. It has a huge nut, which is a whole food, and when they get mature,
they’re a bit slower of course. I’ve got a great product. It takes about 18 years
for and my first ones are starting to fruit
now, but as a timber, it’s a very fine grain
softwood that’s very good for bedside frames because it’s light and it doesn’t twist. And, on you go. There are many, many
products that you can see would be locally in demand and they can be diversely
marketed in the local region once you get into that end-game product. A little bit behind me
there’s a very tall tree with hardly any branches. It’s a Davidson plum. It’s a native coliform tree, and it has fruit on the trunk. And, it’s a bit sour. It’s fresh fruit but
makes a fantastic jam. And so, because that’s a native Australian what we call “bush tucker,” it’s in great demand as a preserve. So we’ve got nuts. We’ve got preserves. We’ve got coffee. We’ve got different qualities of timber, and on, and on, and on. And there’s all sorts of
products you can choose. There’s no shortage
because very few people are doing diverse productive local forestry.


  1. White Family Author

    The trees you have identified for human consumption would only turn a regular and decent profit if planted in numbers that you could realise an income from minus the labour put in to harvest, package and then get to market. As for the timber trees well yes they have value but at that quantity only if you were to mill yourself and then value add by turning into furniture etc. Food forests are viable as a way to feed a family and provide for personal timber use but they do not suit a business model in the configuration you have presented.

  2. The Forest Magician Author

    Allow me to provide another way of asking this question. The person who asked the question is approaching this from a specific mindset: What is the demand? How do we tap into it? A better way to think about this might be to think about how you GENERATE demand for a product that they didn't know they wanted. Here are some more concrete points to consider:

    1. Identify how big you want to scale. Generating local needs provides a great long-term harvest, so long as there is a local audience. Costs go down on transportation but likely is limited in capacity to scale larger. Scaling larger would take more land, and would 100% be reliant on larger-regional (or even global) trade networks (which has the potential to not exist anymore come time for harvest due to decreased demand or a faulty currency)

    2. The land you are on will determine what you're capable of planting anyway. Forcing nature to produce a market-viable product has the potential to kill soils. So, be aware of the strengths of your local plant cultures and find ways to highlight those products for local or regional markets.

    3. Sometimes, the most in-demand products are either timeless and universal (timber, for example). Other times, its the novelty products that make huge waves. Bananas are a great example of this. You can find one in any corner store of North America, yet they are shipped from South America and were virtually unknown in the region until several decades ago. Coffee also has huge demand globally, but there are no cold climate coffee beans that I know of that can be grown for drinks that actually taste good (if someone invents this, you'll be a millionaire in no time)

    4. Don't think of markets as something you always need to tap into. This can lead to markets determining how your land operates, rather than listening to the landscape and doing what nature is already trying to do. Sometimes the best way to approach creating products is the find the strengths, then CREATE the market for the product. This may take some marketing and storytelling, and time for networking. But, it could pay off in the long run because you create a product that is in a category of its own, and can also spin-off into agritourism or unique products that can be scaled.


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