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Walnuts and the First Forest Farms

Woeste holding a black walnut
“Compared to what we know about the domestication of row crops, we know comparatively little about tree crops,” says Keith Woeste, professor of forestry at the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center at Purdue University. Woeste partnered with researchers in Italy and England to publish findings of early walnut dispersal through human cultural interaction.

On a hot, dusty day some two thousand years ago, a traveler stops on the road from Dunhuang, China, to Marakanda (now Samarkand) in Central Asia. He drinks deeply from his flask, then reaches into his sling, pulls out a walnut, cracks it on a rock and pops the kernel into his mouth. He savors the taste, cinches up his heavy packs and walks on.

This unnamed traveler would have been among countless merchants, pilgrims, soldiers and adventurers who journeyed the long stretches of the Silk Road network that spanned thousands of kilometers from China to the Mediterranean Sea between roughly 500 bce and 1500 ce.  Read More

Liz Jackson and Brian MacGowan received the Woodland Steward Award

Liz Jackson, Engagement Specialist with the HTIRC, was recently recognized as part of a team receiving the Gold Award from the Association of Natural Resources Professionals for their production of the Indiana Woodland Steward Newsletter. The announcement recognized Brian MacGowan, Liz Jackson, Purdue University, and  Dan Shaver, The Nature Conservancy.

Three times annually, over 31,000 copies of the Indiana Woodland Steward are mailed to woodland owners in Indiana. This 16-page, two-color publication includes in-depth articles on forest stewardship and health, invasive species and pests, wildlife habitat management, economics, and more. Subscribers own more woods (71.6 ac) for a longer tenure (33 years) than the average woodland owner in Indiana based on data from the National Woodland Owner Survey. As a group, they also have a higher proportion enrolled in assistance programs and having written stewardship plans. Based on a survey of subscribers, 54 percent regularly utilize information from the Woodland Steward. In addition, 51 percent of respondents have implemented at least one practice they read about from the Woodland Steward, potentially impacting an estimated 1.2 million acres of forestland.

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