Restoration Agriculture: Farming in Nature’s Image

Restoration Agriculture: Farming in Nature's Image (INT)
Mark Shepard, Forest Agriculture Enterprises

This workshop will expand on the ideas presented in Mark Shepard's Friday morning keynote address and will draw extensively on his experience establishing and developing New Forest Farm, 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 will bring many concepts into full circle by explaining how to integrate 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.

Mark Shepard, Forest Agriculture Enterprises
Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and runs New Forest Farm, the 106-acre perennial agricultural forest considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States. New Forest Farm is a planned conversion of a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna, successional brushland and eastern woodlands as the ecological models. 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. Trained in both mechanical engineering and ecology, Mark has developed and patented equipment and processes for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of forest derived agricultural products for human foods and bio fuels production. Mark was certified as a permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture Design from Bill Mollison, the founder of the international permaculture movement. Mark is founder and board president for Restoration Agriculture Institute and serves on the board of the Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council. He teaches agroforestry and permaculture worldwide. Mark is a farmer member of the Organic Valley Cooperative, the worlds largest organic farmer's marketing co- op, and is the founder and chief cydermaker for the Shepard's Hard Cyder winery in Viola, Wisconsin.