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The Center for Agroforestry

UMCA News Release

Landowner endows acreage, resources for agroforestry research to build rural Missouriansí future

March 2007

Rural Missourians will learn from demonstrations of agroforestry, timber management and land stewardship at the Allen Research and Education Project Site, a gift of 521 acres near Laurie, Mo., endowed to the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry by landowner Doug Allen. Allen is working with the Center on land management plans, including a teaching/ research center with lodging on-site. The complete story appeared in the fall 2006 issue of The Resource, published by the MU School of Natural Resources; email story author Rachel McCoy at for a copy.

Valued forest species, fertile soils and an array of wildlife are hallmarks of the acreage landowner Doug Allen, above, has endowed to the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry. The 521-acre plot, offering hill and valley terrain, is the future home of the Allen Research and Education Project Site.
Photo: Greg Horstmeier

Like an Ozark stream, Doug Allen is tranquil, purposeful - and utterly intriguing.

His simple demeanor solidly carries a tremendous commitment toward land stewardship and the welfare of rural Missourians, a combination that makes the landowner most unforgettable.

In 2004, Allen began translating this passion for conservation and land stewardship into the endowment of 521 acres of forested land near Laurie, Mo., to the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry. Final details of the agreement were completed in the fall of 2006, declaring that Allen will endow the acreage to University of Missouri Curators on behalf of the Center to serve as the location of the Allen Research and Education Project Site. A corresponding Allen Endowment Fund will maintain and support the property for agroforestry research.

Gene Garrett, director, Center for Agroforestry, explains the significance of Allenís generous gift as an outstanding location for agroforestry research that represents Missouriís diverse soil and land conditions. "Primary agroforestry research is currently conducted at the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center near New Franklin, Mo., in what we call River Hills conditions," says Garrett. "Itís a particular type of soil you can only find in other River Hills areas - but Missouri, as a state, is wonderfully represented by forested acreage more similar to that found on Doug Allenís property. Here, we will complement our New Franklin research site with the clear demonstration of agroforestry practices in an environment very different from the River Hills and more representative of what is found in other parts of our state."

Farming that fits the land
The acreage, comprised of 521 predominantly wooded acres in the Ozark region near Laurie, Mo., is hilly and contains many desirable tree species, including black and white oak, shagbark hickory, northern red oak, white ash, river birch and eastern red cedar. Approximately 83 acres of the site are bottomland fields and represent some of the most fertile ground on the property. Portions of the property feature soil well-suited to growing the Missouri native shortleaf pine - a species the Center has invested fifteen years of research into as a potential source of short and long-term income for landowners.

Integrating conservation and profit
Allenís interest in natural resources conservation, timber management and production of niche agroforestry crops will be realized on multiple levels at the site. "My hope is to create a model for rural Missourians that demonstrates that they can make extra money off their land and also practice good stewardship," he says.

Garrett and his team at the Center for Agroforestry have already begun putting this vision into place with the implementation of a riparian forest buffer surrounding one of the propertyís creeks. Five species of native shrubs have been planted near the streambank to help stabilize the soil and enhance quail populations. These blocks of species include wild plum, rough leaf dogwood, false indigo, smooth sumac and elderberry.

"One of the first priorities is to return this property to as natural a state as possible, and paralleling this objective is to encourage as diverse a level of native species as can reasonably be established," says Allen. "A truly natural environment on this property means the reversion of some fields to forest, which is locally believed to be the Ďoriginalí ecotype for the entire property. However, recognizing that some of the Ďartificialí fields that currently exist on the landscape more than double the propertyís diversity of species, the careful maintenance of these fields will also be regarded as a priority."

Timber management and forest farming demonstrations will show landowners opportunities for economic gain from forested land at the Allen Research site. (Left): Doug Allen discusses land management options with Gene Garrett, director, MU Center for Agroforestry (right), and Dusty Walter, Center for Agroforestry technology transfer specialist.

A natural passion for somewhat lesser-cultivated agricultural crops - such as gourmet mushrooms, ginseng, black cohosh and other botanicals with medicinal properties - attracts Allen to the agroforestry practice of forest farming. Both Garrett and Allen look forward to evaluating areas for a range of forest farming crops and botanicals. "What weíll be able to do here is show the local land and forest owners possibilities for additional income they might not have ever considered," says Allen. "And they can teach us the invaluable knowledge from their own experiences."

Honoring wildlife habitat, and local community
The Allen site is already habitat for indigenous and migratory wildlife populations, including dove, quail, deer and turkey, as well as waterfowl and some uncommon birds that are attracted to the lakefront areas. Approximately 35 acres of the property have been converted from tall fescue to warm season grasses and forbs. Native grasses offer better nesting and mobility for quail populations than cool season grasses such as tall fescue.

In keeping with Allenís vision, the cultivation of large-scale conventional row crops for "pure agricultural research," as Allen describes, will not be pursued, favoring instead land-use practices such as agroforestry that integrate management systems for optimum production, wildlife and conservation benefits.

"My vision for this gift is that it be a showplace to demonstrate to future generations that man can live in harmony with his environment while successfully providing for his family," says Allen.

This remarkable desire to share an appreciation of natural places and wildlife can be called a part of Allenís family legacy. His father, the late H.W. Allen, an avid bow hunter, invented and patented the technology for the compound bow in 1966. His mother, the late Mrs. Elizabeth Allen, created an endowment in the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources to support students in the fisheries and wildlife programs, a $250,000 fund that helps provide scholarships. Allenís older brother is a masterís level graduate of the wildlife program at MU.

Darcy Wells, executive director of advancement (left), Gene Garrett, director, Center for Agroforestry and Doug Allen share a laugh while surveying a grassland portion of the property.

A manifestation of this cooperative philosophy, Allen requests that the community be invited to participate in educational workshops and events hosted on the property. Plans for the site include the establishment of a teaching/research center with lodging for students and research faculty to utilize while conducting research and participating in training programs.

"Meaningful interaction is a goal," says Allen. "Weíd like to see interaction between researchers and academia with as many residents of the local community as possible, especially those with limited agricultural income opportunities who may benefit the most from knowledge gained at the site."

Noting that the property is one of the most beautiful places to see a night sky, Allen says he hopes that "those who will be working, researching, learning and living on this property can be very happy in the process, while the knowledge gained and applied here will benefit all Missourians and our natural environment."

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