Harnessing Ecosystem Services for Agricultural Sustainability

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.

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.

Alternatives to Methyl Bromide

The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987, works to phase out ozone-depleting substances including the soil fumigant methyl bromide, commonly used by strawberry growers.