Restoration Agriculture

Important Announcement: The 2015 Carbon Farming Course has been cancelled.  Please contact with any questions.  Thank you!

Mark Shepard will cap off the 2015 Carbon Farming Course with a 3-day workshop on Restoration Agriculture. The workshop will draw extensively on Mark’s experience establishing and developing New Forest Farm as one of North America’s largest and most innovative perennial farm ecosystems.

Using nature as a model, Restoration Agriculture is the intentional restoration of healthy, functional ecosystems as the context for economically-viable farm operations. Perennial crops, livestock, fungus, and pollinators are integrated to produce abundant food, fiber, and fuel crops while simultaneously restoring critical ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water purification and infiltration, nutrient cycling, and biodiversity.

Mark Shepard with Hog

In this extended Restoration Agriculture workshop, farmer/entrepreneur/author Mark Shepard will bring the carbon farming conversation full circle by integrating Permaculture Design, Holistic Management, Keyline Design, whole living ecosystems, ecological restoration and production agriculture. After a brief critique of annual crops agriculture, participants will be introduced to biome and natural plant community mimicry as a method of designing permanent agricultural systems.

Participants will be immersed in the strategic how-to’s of implementing Restoration Agriculture beginning with the agroforestry techniques of Alleycropping and multi-species Silvopasture grazing. Mark will also cover how to implement water management systems based off of natural patterns and informed by Keyline patterning pioneered by P.A. Yeomans. Inputs-based agriculture, pest and disease cycles, plant and animal breeding, compost & compost teas, nitrogen-fixing woody plants, 16-brick rocket stoves, herb spirals and hugulkulture all get a mention before winding up with a passionate call to arms for all farmers, land owners or aspirants, to rise to the challenges of our times, to live and work toward the creation of an ecologically healthy food system, culture and economy.

New Forest Farm, Southwest Wisconsin

New Forest Farm, in the Driftless region of southwest Wisconsin, is a planned conversion of a conventional grain operation into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna, successional brushland and Eastern woodlands as the ecological models. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food (for humans and animals), fuel, medicine, and beauty. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts and various fruits are the primary woody crops. The farm is entirely solar and wind powered and farm equipment is powered with locally produced biofuels that are not taken from the human food chain.

Course Highlights:

  • Full immersion in the theory and practice of Restoration Agriculture
  • Biome identification and ecology
  • Keyline design, earthworks, and water management
  • Perennial crop establishment, maintenance, and breeding
  • Pruning, coppicing, and grafting
  • Integrated multi-species grazing
  • Renewable energy on the farm
  • Restoration Agriculture economics
Mark Shepard Restoration Agriculture