Building Natural Environments for a Sustainable Future
A young riparian forest buffer
The guiding ethic for Tim Seifarth and Garrett Book, co-owners of Earthbound Artisan, is to weigh the environmental impact of each action. They use that principle to help them navigate the processes of design, construction and management. Dedicated to making a difference in the local community and beyond, they spent time in December writing a proposal for a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (). Earthbound Artisan’s proposal was one of eight recently chosen to receive a grant for multifunctional riparian forest buffer exploration.
A riparian buffer is an area of vegetation that is planted near a waterway to significantly reduce pollution and sediment runoff from adjacent land. According to Seifarth, Pennsylvania has committed to buffering 95,000 acres by planting trees and shrubs along its waterways by 2025. Earthbound Artisan acquired funds to provide for the local installation of four acres of multifunctional buffers over a three-year period. Furthermore, they plan to use organic practices and assist the farmers and landowners that they work with in applying for Pennsylvania Certified Organic status.
The conventional riparian buffer method is to plant trees along waterways. Book and Seifarth explain that the conventional method is not optimal because a forest needs layers. “DCNR requires 70 percent canopy cover,” says Book. “Our agroforestry planting method will create corridors for animals and their habitats. We are also interested in planting vegetation that will serve a multifunctional purpose, so we’re engaging in the discovery process to learn how the buffer areas can be harvested.
“Like any good practice, this effort needs to be financially sustainable as well as ecologically sustainable,” he explains. “We’ll be drawing on permaculture practices, teachers of forest gardening and our own organic landscape management lessons to explore chemical-free solutions.”
Earthbound Artisan has received guidance from local experts at , Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Crow and Berry, all of which are stewards of local land areas and waterways. “These three organizations have been collaborating, coordinating and networking with us to make our work possible,” affirms Book. “We express our sincere gratitude to them because we have only been able to do what we have done so far with their help.”
One goal of the Earthbound Artisan team is to connect with people who will benefit from the literal and figurative fruit of their labor. “We aim to plant trees and shrubs that will not only buffer the waterways, but will be fruit, floral and nut-producing, so that the area can bring additional income to local landowners,” describes Seifarth.
They are currently meeting with local farmers and are looking to connect with others who may be interested in working with them, such as commercial vendors who are set up to use fresh, organic fruit in their businesses.
“There is a market for local fruit-bearing trees, bushes and brambles such as elderberry, raspberry, blackberry and pawpaw, as well as flowering trees, such as red dogwood,” suggests Books. “If we can provide opportunities for beneficial business relationships between farmers and commercial vendors by planting fruit-bearing trees, then we have created a sustainable ripple effect.”
Fostering stable ecosystems in the present leads to maintaining resilient ecosystems in the future. “We are extremely grateful to the DCNR and for this vote of confidence in organic practices,” notes Seifarth. “And we’re humbled by the constant reminders that there’s nothing new about what we do.” Book concurs, “We’re just doing our part in something much bigger.”
Earthbound Artisan is currently serving Pennsylvania in Lancaster, Lebanon, Berks, York,
Chester and Dauphin Counties. For more information, email Garrett@EarthboundArtisan.com or visit EarthboundArtisan.com.