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Welcome Mark Shepard author of Restoration Agriculture

 
Adrien Lapointe
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This week Mark Shepard will be joining us to answer our questions about forests agriculture, growing staple food, land restoration strategy, and much more.

There are up to four copies of his book Restoration Agriculture up for grabs.

Mark himself will be popping into the forum over the next few days answering questions and joining in discussions.

From now through this Friday, any posts in this forum, ie the food forest forum, could be selected to win.

To win, you must use a name that follows our naming policy and you must have your email set up in Paul's daily-ish email..

The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours.

His website is http://www.forestag.com/index.html

Posts in this thread won't count, but please feel free to say hi to Mark and make him feel at home!
 
Daniel Morse
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I will order his book soon.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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I haven't read it yet, but I got feedback from someone who thought it was really good. That is on my reading list for the next few weeks.
 
Bill S.
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I'm a BIG fan of Mark and his work! He had a great interview on the 'agro-innovations' podcast a while back explaining his entire system and philosophy called "Episode #42: Permaculture in the Savanna" that I highly recommend.

Thanks,

Bill
 
Josie Watkins
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I checked out the website. It mentions that Mark does consulting. I am looking at getting 40 acres in southeast NM. Would he be able to consult for this climate and I wonder what the fees for a consultation would be. So glad that more people are using permaculture. It would be great to win a book! Great that this site is here and provides such awesome info.
 
Frank Turrentine
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I'm watching this lecture right now, and it's like scales are falling from my eyes. Freakin oracles.

This entire last couple of years have been like this, but it all feels like it's building toward a completely different paradigm about my relationship to the land. I've gotta go to bed, but I wanna watch this a few more times.
 
Frank Turrentine
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STUN. how freakin beautiful. Input agriculture with annuals does not work.

I mean, I know I've heard this all before. I hear it all the time lately in one form or another, but something clicked in my head while I was listening to this.

Sorry, I know I'm really remedial with this stuff. But I'll be 50 in September, and I feel like I'm 15 lately.
 
laura sharpe
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why do some people have apples with numbers in them by their names?
 
Mary Saunders
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Do free-range pigs find truffles? Truffles are so high in value that I wonder why more people don't fiddle with them?
 
Pamela Kirsch
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Welcome back Mark Shepard. I'm looking forward to the Q & A! Thanks.
 
R Laurance
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Thank you Adrien for posting the link to Mark's lecture, and a thousand thanks for you Mark (a few more than Adrien received-a symbiotic relationship?) for putting together such a wonderful hard-hitting factual lecture. It really makes me wish that I could've been in attendance to the actual flesh & blood event. You are an inspiration to those die-hards that say "it can't be done, economically!" More ammunition for us that are working towards these ends, while confronting the brainwashed naysayers!

Continued Success in all you do!

-- rick in Skåne
 
Emma Fredsdotter
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Hey, Mark!

The book sounds very interesting. Is there a table of contents, or something to that effect, available somewhere online? There doesn't appear to be one on Amazon or on the official website.
 
William James
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I'm down on my knees and genuflecting at the moment!!
Thank you Mark for everything you do.
William
 
                                          
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I was looking for neighbors in Wisconsin into Permaculture and now super excited to know someone who actually put a book out!
 
Marcella Rose
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Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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This post has nothing to do with the topic, but that picture makes him look like Liam Neeson (in my opinion)!
 
Matthew Metzler
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Keep up the great work
Be well
Matt
 
Patricia Maas
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Mark's farm looks like some of the other very successful sustainable farmers and ranchers around the country. There's getting to be more of them, and that's a good thing. Makes it easier to learn from, or find ways for things to work in your own area, from seeing what others are doing. For me on my bit of acreage have had to learn how to build the sponge first as the severe overgrazing and very dry conditions left normal erosion abatement methods lacking. Looking forward to learning more from Mark.
 
bunkie weir
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welcome mark!
 
Dig Gashinsky
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Just got the book. Very excited about it. Nuts about nuts. Interested in growing them in upstate NY. Interesting in the information on how to start young trees or do I need to do it from seed. Where to get productive varieties?
 
Adrien Lapointe
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R Laurance wrote:Thank you Adrien for posting the link to Mark's lecture, and a thousand thanks for you Mark (a few more than Adrien received-a symbiotic relationship?) for putting together such a wonderful hard-hitting factual lecture.


I have nothing to do with the creation of this lecture. I merely posted it on this thread.

For everybody else, here is the presentation;


 
Mark Shepard
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Hey there everybody who might be reading this....
I've got all kinds of "town stuff" to do today, but I'll be back here electronically "live" between 6 and 7PM US Central time to do the ol back-and forth thing...

Before I take off I'll briefly touch on some of the topics that I saw one page back from here (wherever the heck THAT was)

... For one thing, the name "Food Forest" is wonderful... It rolls off the tongue so nicely and conjures up wonderful images about what it might be. Some distinctions do need to be made here...

Once a community of woody plants develops to the point where its canopy creates enough shade to exclude grasses, that can "officially" be called a forest. One of the things about a forest is that there is actually LESS photosynthesis going on in the system than what was occurring in the phase just prior to canopy closure. If we actually want to optimize the yields that we obtain from our site, it is in our best interests to NOT have a food FOREST, but a food SAVANNA. Although I manage sections of this land as a food FOREST, the majority of it will be maintained as Savanna... A good working definition is between 40 and 60% canopy closure. The easy way to tell if you're still in the savanna phase is to look at your grass... If your grass is petering out and you see lots of spaces between clumps of grass, then you're entering into the forest phase. If your grass is vigorously growing (and creating competitive effects with your woody plants) then you are strongly in the Savanna phase. This is where you will be able to capture the most sunlight and the most atmosphere of any perennial system.

ALso... before we get started tonight, for those of you who have jumped in early I have a homework assignment for between now and then, and that is to very carefully in your own thinking, ponder what you "KNOW", and then seek to understand the difference between Observations and Concepts... An observation is something that you can see, hear, taste, touch, smell, measure with instruments or derive with tests. Concepts are intellectual constructs that are intended to describe the "why" or "how" those observations could have occurred...Most questions that I receive at workshops are questions that have been asked through the lens of concepts. We all use concepts to understand the world around us, but our concepts aren't always accurate, and since we use concepts to understand the world around us, when they are not accurate we view reality inaccurately... Here's an example.... "Invasive species". Name one organism on planet earth that has a concept called invasion.... That would be us.. human beings. Plants and animals are only being plants and animals. They are living, growing, reproducing, their populations are getting larger or smaller, they behave certain ways.... When we view their observable behavior through the lens of "Invasion" that's all that we see... The Invasion. Humanity's understanding of these species has become confined to understanding the "Invasion" and our response to them, has been to fight the invasion... SO...
Many of your/our questions will be coming through the lens of your own concepts. What I may be doing in some cases is NOT answering your question, but what I may be doing is pointing out the fact that the question was actually coming from a flawed concept... there is no offense intended whatsoever, it's just that the question AS AKSED is not the right question because it was built on an innaccurate concept...

Also, also.... ALthough my formal educational background includes both Engineering and Ecology, I am "officially" neither an engineer nor an ecologist. When I graduated from college, it was in the middle of an economic downturn and nobody was hiring restoration ecologists. I was also beginning to be bothered by what I perceived as so many "wrong questions" being asked because the concepts behind them were inaccurate. SO... I hitchiked from Maine to Alaska where I homesteaded in "the bush" with my sweetheart. We lived out there, 300 miles from "town" and 3,500ft up the side of a mountain, for 8yrs. Our contact with "the world" was minimal and our immersion within nature was about as intense as it can get these days.. While there I wrestled with and experimented on how we human beings can live on this planet while not destroying it and in fact while nurturing health back to natural systems. ANybody with cold-season questions?... you don't know cold! From there we moved to Wisconsin where we have temps that have been as hot as 116ºF and as cold as -52º. Instead of setting up fancy websites or blogs, I've focused my energy on planting and managing plant and animal communities, harvesting their yields and selling those yields as income. For the past 17 years of my life I have been living INSIDE the process of Restoration Agriculture and earning my livelihood from it. What I bring to the discussion is not footnoted with references and is not something that I learned from a book, computer or classroom. What I've written about in Restoration Agriculture is all from direct experience...
OH.... And PLEASE don't buy Restoration Agriculture from Amazon! Buy it either from Acres USA or Forest Ag.com.... If you buy it from ForestAg, I'll get a couple more bucks for it and I would really appreciate that!

SO.... we'll chat this evening...
 
Laura Jean Wilde
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I hadn't heard of you, Mark, until now but am admittedly knda new in the forum stuff. I would love to gain some greater big picture understanding from your experience. We have been kinda doing the same approach (that is trial and error) I was just wondering, What do you consider large scale permaculture? (in Acres) We have 13 acres and are struggling just to fill this. because of the cost of plants around here. and competing with aggressive grasses. we are now moving into attempting woody plant propagation to expedite the input but we are not young and may not see the end result of this. it is inspiring just the same tho.
by the way this book is out of stock at both Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. and your website won't accept my shipping address. Shall I pray to win one of the giveaway copies. Please Please please
 
Jonathan Allen
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Well you did get me interested and I have't been able to get around to the lecture yet!

I am a newbie here, but then I've been building a more resilient and sustainable life-style in New England at my home. Glad to see that you've been here and done that and even happier that you are familiar with the challenges of living in a cold environment.

I have forwarded the links to this forum to a friend of mine in Manchester, Vermont who was active in supporting Smokey House Center (SHC) is a non-profit organization located on 5,000 acres in rural Danby, Vermont. They 'practice careful land management that is both ecologically sound and economically productive.' Currently they are considering input on how to manage all of this land in a productive manner that will supper their goals and agreements with their partners.

I truly believe that your learnings need to be considered at SHC. I intend to reach out to their board on developing a vision, not just for management of the land, but the development of the land using 'Restoration Agriculture.'

Talk to you soon,

Jonathan Allen
 
Andrew James
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welcome to Permies Mark!
 
Rick Larson
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Hi Mark!
 
Grant Schultz
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I've had the recent pleasure of getting to know Mark, visit his farm in WI, and read his book.

1) GET THE BOOK! http://www.forestag.com/book.html

The revolution will not be televised, one must take an active role.

Grant
 
Jerry McIntire
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Welcome Mark. Actually, thanks for welcoming me to the Driftless area.

Jerry

Plant trees
 
Richard Frame
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Hi Mark, I was very pleased to see your name on this forum. As you know (I'm the Illini), I have read your book twice and have given two away as Christmas gifts. I have a question: Do you overwinter any of your livestock and if so, do you grow hay (or grain) to feed them or do you buy hay or something else?
Richard
 
Mike Hagar
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Hi Mark from Spokane, WA.

Your comments about Food Forests are interesting. I recently heard geoff lawton say that Food Forests were not about optimizing yield, but for obtaining sustainable yields with the minimum of effort. As a full time farmer living on your yields I imagine your approach of Food Savannah will be interesting dose of reality therapy.

I am a beginner with 2.5 acres on the edge of valley filled with alfalfa, wheat, barley, etc. I am very interested in learning ways to get from here to there. In my case I have 1.5 acres of lawn and 1 acre of alfalpha I want to restore to a more sustainable food forest/savanna that requires less input for my wife and I as we go through the last phases of our life and want to prepare a place for our children and grandchildren.

I am looking forward to reading your book and sharing it with my (very skeptical) local farming neighbors. Do you have any brief suggestions on:

Restoring Lawn and monocroped dryland farm land in to savanna?
Wisconsin may have heat and cold but I imagine you also have much more moisture. How do you think your approach will work here?

Thanks,
Mike

 
Marlene Swartz
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Incredibly awesome Mark!! Sooo much to consume and now on the 2nd watching and listening

I had a melt down with (tears and all) remembering all the "weeds" I had uprooted and most did not go into the compost pile, (seeds) and along with the tilling, and meticulous rows of companion planted veggies. Ekkks! WOW what A WAKE up call! I have recently returned to my 40 acres of virgin land of HUGE diversity, forest, spring, river, grass-land, "weeds" too funny, after 8 long years of travel to where I call home and NOW see incredible potential of sustainable permaculture Thank-you so much Mark for all you have done and will do to awaken the masses, and I will try to do my part to share this MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE of my life time. Blessing to you and yours!
 
R Hasting
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Hi Mark,
I think you have the best Permaculture farm in North America, that I have found anyway.

I have been trying to follow you as best I can over the last year, finding videos, and interviews, which are few.

I have a couple questions I would love to have answered.

1. What is your estimate of total yield per acre at the 5 year, 10 year and 20 year mark of your system?

2. Describe how you have business associates, instead of interns.

3. What was the biggest mistake you made early on?

4. Aside from the kids, what are you most proud of?

5. You talk about STUN. How much time do you spend actually doing "work" on your farm?

6. What is it like when you have a conversation with the farmer that grows Soy and Corn?

7. What three insights would you want to impart on someone that wants to follow in your footsteps?

(That is a yield of seven questions

Thanks,
Richard
 
Mark Shepard
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OK... where do I go? How does this work? I'm more familiar with treezes and beezes...
 
Nissa Kay
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for someone interested in profitably farming perennial crops, where do you recommend beginning to learn the business/financial/tax aspects of obtaining land access and fitting in with the prevailing economics?
 
Mark Shepard
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I hope I'm doing this right, but in case I'm not, Im just going to "wing it"....
Let's see....

Apple varieties with numbers bv their name.... Even among the controlled-cross, one male parent one female parent crowd, there are so many different total numbers of offspring to evaluate, that you've got to keep track of them somehow... Until a seedling has proven itself as someone special, then the best way to keep track of it is with a number. Every breeder (you included, not that you are a plant breeder) will come up with his/her own code to describe the offspring... We use row letter, number of plant west or north of the row marker pin and the individual plant within the row... Hence, I've got some trees that I'm looking at that are D-9's... that means they came from plant D-9. Then I label them by the year... D-9-12 meant row D, plant 9 to the west in 2012. Every person keeping track of these things might have a different code and thats OK...

Pigs and truffles.... Truffles are NOT native to N America and many people have been researching how to get them established here... They naturally co-host with Oaks, chestnuts and Hazelnuts so they're a shoe-in for north America, however... There are several universities (including University of MO Columbia, Dr Johannes Bruhn) that are working on getting Truffles established here and as to date they're not quite where we could be...
Franklin Garland in (I think) N Carolina has a a business for the past 30yrs selling seedlings innoculated with truffle spawn. I have actually sold him hazelnut seedlings to innoculate and have fifty or so of the plants that should (in theory) be producing truffles.... IF Garland's trees actually produced truffles, there would be a North American Industry by now...

what do we need truffles for anyways? This ain't France... we have plenty of other "wood boogers" that we can grow instead of truffles...


 
steve carrow
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Not sure how this works "live" either. I was just going to "watch", but I'll ask a question just to see what happens. What do you prefer for chicken breeds for the leader follower grazing scheme? I assume some all purpose breed that is good at free ranging.
 
Barrett Johanneson
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I think you just hit Post Reply down in the lower right corner. I hope others weigh in, otherwise I may be asking you a several questions!

I had actually heard of you about four years ago around the time I found this site, permaculture, and my interest for farming. I knew I wanted to settle in western Wisconsin, and so I researched what other permies were doing out there, and that's how I found out about your outfit there in Viola. I'm really interested in learning more about your permaculture experiences here in Wisconsin. Great to have you here on Permies tonight.

Fortunately, I just found my land and I'm starting out on a farm about the size of yours (with virtually no improvements), and the biggest question I have right now is: What do I need to know about getting the most out of land that has a mostly northern aspect? My long-term goal is to develop a diversified and somewhat nut-and-fruit tree based permaculture operation over my lifetime. Background about the land includes that it is sandy loam, zone 4, rolling hills (one high point 150ft. and other rises measuring around 75ft.), with a mostly north-south rectangular orientation. It is now and will be operated as a grass-fed beef and hay operation for the next few years. Any pitfalls, tips, or encouragements you'd like to share as I plan and hopefully earn a PDC this spring, I'd appreciate it.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Everybody, please post your questions in separate threads. You can do that by going to the food forest forum and creating a new topic.
 
Roxanne Dunn
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I watched the entire presentation by Mark Shepard and picked up many important practices to begin implementing on our place. He gives many examples of how he has taken problems and turned them into profitable solutions. His real life experience really shows and his passion for restoring the Earth's resources is contagious. Thanks for posting it here, and a big thank you to Mark for sharing it!
 
duane hennon
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Hi Mark,

I loved your talk

one of the things I liked most was the "difference between observation and a concept" discussion at about the 45 minute mark

just beautiful and applies to so many things, not just permaculture

thanks so much for being here

my book order is on its way
 
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