Working Together Toward Economic, Ecological Restoration

Ecosystems provide essential services to society, from crop pollination and pollution mitigation to climate and water regulation. By imitating natural plant communities, patterns and processes, ecological restoration has the ability to be economically profitable while restoring degraded ecosystem. This is done by designing productive agroforestry systems patterned after natural plant communities. Nature has provided us with the living examples of the species composition and community structure of successful polycultural food producing systems. We can work together to restore ecosystems to be ecologically sound, agriculturally productive, and economically profitable. This workshop will discuss several natural plant communities that represent economically profitable assemblages. Economic forecasting models for these systems will be included.

Subject Matter Level: 
Friday, January 15, 2016 - 2:35pm to 3:35pm
Mark Shepard
Restoration Agriculture Development
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. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food (for humans and animals), fuel, medicines, 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. 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.