Tree Ratatouille: Growing Vegetables Under Timber Trees

Denis Flores and his wife are small-scale, direct market and U-pick organic vegetable and fruit farmers in southern France who have embarked on a grand experiment—growing vegetables under rows of tall timber trees. The Flores' call their experiment "arbre ratatouille”, or tree ratatouille, after the popular French mixed vegetable stew.

BIFS Workgroup Overview

The University of California - Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) provides funding and institutional support for workgroups to facilitate collaborative planning and coordination of research and extension on emerging and continuing priority issues. The Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS) Workgroup was ratified in 1999 and re-ratified in 2004 and operated until 2010.

Background on Methyl Bromide phase out

Methyl bromide is a broad-spectrum fumigant that is widely used to control insect, pathogen, nematode, weed and rodent pests. Approximately 90% of the methyl bromide use in California is for pre-plant soil fumigation to control soil-borne pathogens and pests principally in strawberries, nursery crops, grapes, and tree fruits and nuts. Postharvest commodity treatment accounts for about 5-10% of the methyl bromide use and is directed largely at insects of nuts, cherries, grapes, raisins, and imported materials.

Pastured Poultry Under Tree and Vine Crops


It’s a warm spring morning in the vineyard-checkered hills of Central Italy, and Silvio Marsan’s 300-acre farm is already bustling with the sounds of free-range organic chickens and turkeys scratching and pecking under the shade of his olive trees. 

Birds enjoy the cover of tall vegetation—so farmers who use an agroforestry system, mixing trees and shrubs with other crops, can provide comfortable cover for free-range poultry and benefit from a consistent supply of rich manure to fertilize their crops.

Program Overview

How it started

In 1988, UC farm advisor Lonnie Hendricks and brothers Glenn and Ron Anderson were discussing farming techniques. The Anderson brothers farmed almonds in Merced County. Glenn farmed his almonds organically, while right across the road, Ron farmed conventionally using herbicides and insecticides on his crops. They wondered whether the differences in farming techniques had any effects on yields and quality. Out of that discussion SAREP awarded Hendricks a grant to begin monitoring the two orchards.

Earthworms: Renewers of Agroecosystems

by Matthew Werner,
UC Santa Cruz Agroecology Program, and 
Robert L. Bugg, SAREP

Reprinted from Sustainable Agriculture - Vol. 3, no.1 (Fall 1990)
University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program

Earthworm Update

by Robert L. Bugg

1994. Sustainable Agriculture/Technical Reviews. 6(3):11-13. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Davis, CA.

Earthworm Ecology and Sustaining Agriculture

by Matthew R. Werner
Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, 
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Reprinted from Components, vol. 1, no.4 (Fall 1990)
University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program