The intentional incorporation of trees into the landscapes where we grow food is a practice we have found great benefit from and have come to admire in cultures that do it better than us.
Trees are important growing climate stabilizers here in the Rio Grande Valley of the high desert SW, an important feature in face of the inherent extremes of climate in the place where we live and grow. And because trees grow upwards, occupying space at a level above where crops are grown, they offer a unique opportunity for intensifying our growing practice, with both the ground level and tree canopy level in support of each other.
The most obvious way in which trees provide stability for us is by decreasing surface temperatures and solar radiation. Tree shaded surfaces can be 20-45°F cooler than surfaces in the direct sun. An enormous benefit, both for the crop and the farmer, in a region where sun is so plentiful.
Trees also continue to release water through their leaves as an evaporative cooling mechanism during periods of extreme heat. So while they are cooling the surface temperatures of the crop below, trees are simultaneously creating a favorable microclimate by increasing humidity levels for the crop to grow in.