Working Group Members

Catherine Bukowski is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech where her dissertation research is on CommS_bukowskiunity Food Forests in the United States- A Study of Design and Management Processes & Principles. Her interests are in agroforestry, particularly forest farming and integrated holistic systemdesigns, community leadership, permaculture and hands-on training. She is on the Board of Directors for the Association for Temperate Agroforestry. Previously she has worked with international agroforestry and community development through the nonprofit Trees for the Future and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras. Her M.S. in Natural Resource Management from SUNY-ESF was on the return of ecological function to abandoned pasturelands in Costa Rica where she also developed agroforestry demonstration sites for local farmers. She has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from UNC-Asheville. (

Dr. Eric Burkhart is an ethnobotanist who works on production, conservation and trade issues surrounding native medicinal forest plants originating from the eastern United States. He holds degrees in Economic Botany (B.A, Idaho State University), Horticulture (M.S., Penn State University), and Forest Resources (Ph.D., Penn State University) Burkhart EP_July 2016v2and is currently plant science program director for Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center and faculty instructor for the Penn State Ecosystem Science and Management Department. His research program in Pennsylvania is focused on developing sustainable wild crop management and production systems for American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and other native forest plants through the use of agroforestry cultivation and plant husbandry.

Katie Commender is a former AmeriCorps VISTA for Appalachian Sustainable Development’s (ASD) Sustainable Forestry program. While at ASD, she developed and managed a multifunctional riparian forest buffer program with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Katie isCommender received her M.S. in Forestry with Virginia Tech’s Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation Department. Her research was designed to 1) identify the types of landowners that have adopted conservation buffers and evaluate their perceptions of and intentions to retain them, and 2) determine their preferences for native fruit, nut and floral trees and shrubs in multifunctional conservation buffers. Findings will inform future outreach and technical support programming aimed at merging conservation and production in buffer zones. 

Additional applied projects include the co-development of an NTFP calculator in partnership with the National Agroforestry Center. This simple Excel-based tool explores the economic potential of growing six different non- timber forest products (NTFPs) in a multifunctional conservation buffer. These species include pawpaws, elderberries, hazelnuts, persimmons, dogwoods and willows. The Calculator has default economic parameters for each NTFP based on existing market studies and interviews with growers throughout the U.S. The tool was intuitively designed to compare the income potential between the production of traditional crops or livestock and NTFPs in a buffer zone. In a simple sensitivity analysis, the Calculator also allows users to adjust the survivability of the NTFPs to assess impacts on profitability.(

Tracey Coulter

Steve Gabriel 
is an ecologist, educator, forest farmer, and coauthor of Farming the Woods: An Integrated permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicine in Temperate Forests.

He co-fsteve-gabriel-230x300ounded the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute and advocates for the balance of production and forest health as an agroforestry specialist for the Cornell Small Farms Program in New York.

Along with his wife, Liz, he stewards Wellspring Forest Farm in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, where they produce shiitake mushrooms, duck eggs, maple and elderberry syrup, pastured lamb, and forest fruits.

Erik Hagan is the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Agroforestry Professional Development Project Coordinator and is working with USDA Agricultural Research Service as a Graduate student at Penn State, researching the interface between farm management practices and water quality in riparian zones in the Chesapeake Bay. Prior to relocating to PA, Erik was the South Puget Sound Small Farms Specialist for Washington State University Extension and Mason Conservation District in Olympia, WA.

Erik has been teaching, designing and consulting in the field of sustainability of food systems and ecological planning since 2006, providing education and consultation on sustainable agriculture and permaculture systems for both homesteading and large scale farming operations in a number of states across the US. Erik’s primary focus in this area has been developing diversified agriculturally productive systems based on site-specific ecological context to enhance site productivity and conservation value.Along with his years of farm management experience, farm planning and consulting, food system and agricultural policy development and ethnobotanical background, Erik brings to the table a systems approach and passion for developinglocally based sustainable food and farming systems. (

Kate_MacFarlandKate MacFarland is the Assistant Agroforester for the USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) located in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has been part of the technology transfer team at NAC since 2013, serving as the liaison to the northeastern and northwestern regions. Her work involves promoting and facilitating agroforestry education and networks, developing outreach and technical materials, and providing technical and program support for agroforestry within USDA, as well as supporting human dimensions work at NAC. Kate joined the Forest Service in 2011; prior to her work with the Forest Service, Kate worked for the Ecosystem Workforce Program at the University of Oregon, for the US Peace Corps in Senegal, and in a variety of other positions related to natural resource management and agriculture. (

Katie Trozzo is a PhD Candidate at Virginia Tech studying the grassroots social organization required for non-timber forest production and maTrozzorketing in rural areas and is a member of the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmers Advisory Board. She has also studied the social factors that influence the adoption of multifunctional buffers and designs multifunctional buffers and other permaculture systems. (