Where to go for help with creating an edible food forest?

This question was recently sent to me by a MLP user, I asked if I could share it on the Ask A Forester site:

My family bought a property in West Friendship, MD. It currently is surrounded by about 500 mature white pines. I’d like to replace them and establish a new edible food forest. That is, I’d like to grow a wide variety of fruit and nut trees, bee- and bird-friendly trees, as well as trees with herbal properties, and trees that support this type of a system (e.g., I’m going to need some nitrogen-fixing trees!). I’d like some help with this transformation, both in devising the best way to remove the old trees, the best way to select and insert the new trees. There are some other similar projects I’m interested in (e.g., putting in some small water management ponds). The concepts for how to proceed are still malleable in my mind and I’m open to suggestions how to improve my vision, and realizing a plan.

Is there some way that you could help? If so, what would you propose?


Just heard back from Dan with some additional recommendations for other woodland owners who might be interested in this type of forest:

I also have found some additional resources since I posted the question that you’re welcome to pack into the answer.  It might help others as well, though some of it is county-specific.  I have made contact with the MD DNR Forest Service.  They’ve set up an appointment to come walk the property and discuss plan possibilities and provide advice.  I haven’t yet contacted HCEDA or Tupelo Beech Conservation Solutions. 


The Forest Service in Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has licensed foresters who can advise on a forest management plan.  They also maintain a list of foresters who will perform different types of services across local counties.  They can also advise on resources that might be available at the state level and are often aware of what’s available at the federal and county levels.


The Howard County Economic Development Activity also has resources available for those starting out in economically viable activities, including agroforestry.  The contact there is Kathy Zimmerman, Agricultural Development Manager. 

Tupelo Beech Conservation Solutions

A private organization that has helped others accomplish similar goals.



Thanks so much Dan for sharing this great information.  Your local state forestery agency is a great place to start for information and resources for your land.  They know the woods very well and can make recommendations based on the goals you have for your property.  We have a list of contacts for state forestry agencies around the country and also have some resources on My Land Plan to help you understand the different types of foresters that you might work with.

Thanks again Dan for sharing your experience!


Hi Dan,

The best thing I can recommend it to you is to find a local professional who can help you near your property, they would have the best recommendations for what is best for your land.  A good place to start would be your USDA Service Center: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?service=page/CountyMap&state=MD&stateName=Maryland&stateCode=24

The other place I can recommend you check out is the National Agroforestry Center which has great resources on http://nac.unl.edu/

They have good publications that can also help you:

I would also recommend working with a forester for the harvesting of the white pines.  We have a lot of great information about finding and hiring a consulting forester.  And you can also search our Forester Directory to find one near you.  Once you find one you are interested in, then you can request a consultation through your My Land Plan account.  You can share your plan with the forester so s/he can see what your property is like and what your goals are for your land.

Good luck!


Project Manager for My Land Plan

American Forest Foundation