Mark Shepard is a permaculture designer, agroforester and ecological farming consultant. He and his family have transformed a typical 140-acre row-crop dairy farm into a permaculture-based perennial-agricultural ecosystem using oak savannah, successional-brushland and Eastern woodlands as ecological models. The farm features chestnut, hazelnut and fruit trees, a variety of other fruits and vegetables, and chickens, ducks, pigs and other animals. The result is one of the first farm-scale models of permaculture in the United States.
In addition to his keynote address, Mark Shepard offered an all-day seminar at the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference, January 11. He also spoke at a fundraising dinner after the conference.
In an all-new episode of The Business Beat, Steve D'Agostino interviews Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture, who was keynote speaker at the NOFA-Mass. Winter Conference on January 11 in Worcester. They talk about overcoming adversity by following your dreams.
Seminar Outline: Restoration Agriculture for the Farm
Seminar sessions run concurrent to other workshops; attendees must participate in all 3 sessions.
9am - Session 1: Introduction to Restoration Agriculture/ Farm-scale Permaculture
The ecosystems of our planet are seriously degraded, and most are in steep decline. Forests, prairies, and savannas worldwide have been cut, burned, and plowed to make way for humankind. Clean air, pure water and rich, fertile soil are all provided by healthy ecological systems. The need for ecological restoration - for a way to rejuvenate our tired, depleted farmscapes - is greater than ever before.
At the same time, the need for reliable food crops is increasing dramatically. Around the world, the staple foods of choice are either annual grains or legumes, both of which require disturbed soils in order to grow. Learn how we can accomplish both ecological restoration and agricultural production of staple carbohydrates and proteins by imitating perennial ecosystems with productive agricultural practices.
1:30 pm - Session 2: MAKS: The Modified American Keyline System: Earth-shaping to manage your water resources
Plants can survive in all climates, with all manner of weather extremes and soil deficiencies, but no plant can survive without water. Learn how to manage your water resources by using the keyline design system. Keyline design uses simple, inexpensive earth shaping and cultivation techniques to optimize water distribution on the farm. Keyline design spreads water from valleys to ridges, encourages water penetration into the soil, increases soil organic matter, and increases the depth of humic layers. In addition, keyline design sequesters atmospheric carbon more rapidly than any other known technique.
3:30 pm - Session 3: Putting it all together: The step-by-step restoration agriculture process
Learn a systematic approach to developing a restoration agriculture farm. Know your ecological neighborhood, and design for water optimization. Establish wooded polycultures, build fences and roads, establish agroforestry practices, and then manage for eternity.