106 Broadacre Perennial Agricultural Savannah
Mark Shepard – Restoration Agriculture Hub
- For upcoming workshops with Mark Shepard, visit the Restoration Agriculture Development website to learn more.
- To buy woody perennials that can tolerate climate extremes, droughts, and floods directly from Mark’s nursery, visit Forest Agriculture Enterprises.
- For buying New Forest Farm products and tours of the farm, visit Newforestfarm.us
- To schedule Mark Shepard for a design consultation, restoration agriculture installation, workshop, or speaking engagement use this contact form.
- New Forest Farm doesn’t accept interns or apprentices, but the farm collaborates with independent enterprises. Housing, food, and money are not provided. However, land and equipment are available for rent and use. For more info, read Mark’s letter.
Mark Shepard is the founder and President of the Restoration Agriculture Development and CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises. He teaches Agroforestry and Permaculture worldwide and has also written the book Restoration Agriculture. He runs New Forest Farm, the 106-acre perennial agricultural savannah, considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States.
Mark and his wife Jen founded New Forest Farm in 1994. It’s now one of the most developed and productive perennial farms in North America – trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants, and fungi are planted in association to produce food (for humans and animals), fuel, medicines, and beauty.
The farm is a planned conversion from a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savannah successional brushland of eastern woodlands as the ecological model. The farm is entirely solar- and wind-powered, and locally produced biofuels drive farm equipment.
Over the last 15 years, Mark has planted an estimated 250,000 trees on his 106-acre farm. He uses agroforestry systems and alley cropping and silvopasture techniques.
The main crops are chestnuts, hazelnuts, and apples. He also grows walnuts, hickories, pine nuts, pears, cherry trees, asparagus, and winter squash. Cattle, pigs, lambs, turkeys, and chickens also roam on the restored savannahs at New Forest Farm. Finally, he offers tours, practical workshops, and permaculture design courses on his farm.
His other business, Forest AG, offers a wide selection of perennial nursery stock and tree planting and nut processing services. The nursery provides bare-root dormant nursery stock of food-producing and woody crop plants, aiming at larger-scale Restoration Agriculture, Silvopasture, Agroforestry, and Permaculture growers. Also, medium-scale woody crop growers can use the post-harvest processing equipment at a price too.
Consultation and design services are part of Restoration Agriculture Development, a separate business where Mark and the other designers specialize in whole systems, ecological land-use planning with an emphasis on agroforestry practices, and permaculture design – based on the New Forest Farm model.
Mark Shepard’s Farm Income:
As you can read from above, Mark’s income is very diverse and, most importantly, has changed throughout the years. It’s hard to give exact percentages, but I’ll try to give you an idea of this progression.
Early years (first 8 years): 12 -15 acres in production – row crops, annuals, cattle, hogs, part-time jobs, miscellaneous
Middle years: 4 acres of the annual produce, cattle, hogs, asparagus, nursery stock, less part-time work, teaching/consulting, doing lots of miscellaneous, woody crops beginning to bear, massage therapy (his wife’s business)
Past 7 years: 2acres of asparagus, 2acres of the annual produce, nursery stock, fruit nuts, teaching/consulting, massage
Past 2 years: Teaching/ consulting, nursery stock, 2 ac asparagus, 2 ac annual produce, fruits, nuts, book sales, hogs, cattle, tours, massage
• Using agroforestry systems enables a high volume of perennial crops, as well as annuals and animals, to be simultaneously in the system
• Each form of produce or animal are different enterprises – i.e., apples are harvested by one enterprise and sold to the apple cider enterprise
• Focusing on just growing is too narrow an economic focus – diversify
• Real value is not just about the profitability of a farm, but the whole picture has to be looked at
For all of you reading this, Mark Shepard has a message for you, and it goes like this: “If you think you can move somewhere, buy land, and make your living just from agriculture – you should think again.” Interested in what exactly Mark was talking about? Here is a full post.