Russell Wallack, which trees to plant where? Answering the oldest question in agriculture

Using software to answer the key question when doing agroforestry on a watershed level, which tree to plant where and why? In this interview with Russell Wallack of Terra Genesis and co founder of Brasa, we cover a lot of ground but try to give (part of the) answer to the key question in agriculture, what to plant where and why? Especially in agroforestry systems this is key, as trees can’t walk to a more optimal spot.



  • The need for perennial based agriculture systems is huge! 
  • Perennials, especially trees crops have huge value in watersheds
  • There really aren’t watersheds without perennials 
  • Chestnuts and hazelnuts can play a role as stable crops
  • Chestnuts are known in French and Italian culture as the bread trees
  • There is a temperate band wrapping the world where cultures have been using chestnuts as staple crops for thousands of years
  • What is a GIS
  • Chestnuts start only producing revenues after 5-10 years, so you better be sure where to plant them
  • Still recovering from student debt, Russell said out to find the optimum places to plant chestnuts
  • Russell started looking at the Connecticut river watershed (which is 700k hectares) and start removing the pieces of land not suited for chestnut production
  • Because of scale they removed all parcel sizes of less than 5 acres
  • Because of the need for machines they only looked at parcels with high slopes
  • Regenerative agriculture and agroforestry makes a lot more sense when you look at scale
  • What questions should you ask to understand of a farm is really contributing to the regeneration of a watershed?
  • What is the role of elderberries in the coevolution of the Connecticut river watershed, and how can we support that?
  • Human capacity to think at a watershed level is more limiting than computer power
  • Most of the support for agroforestry is either at a global level (Drawdown) or at a farm level (farm support), why not look at a bioregional level?
  • It would be way more valuable for the planet if people wanting to be creating regeneration instead of being ‘regenerative’

Fundamental question to ask as an impact investor interested in Watershed level agroforestry: What are you regenerating? Or what are you investing in to regenerate?

Bioregional Agroforestry Suitability Analysis, Brasa

BioRegional Agroforestry Suitability Analysis (BRASA) – Medium

Interview with Harry, Jeremy and Ethan of Propagate Ventures

History of Chestnuts in the US

Regenesis Group New Mexico

Short article on Technology in Landscape size restoration


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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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