Grant Schultz is the Founder of VersaLand, Iowa City, Iowa, and known in some circles as the "Mad Scientist of Permaculture". As a farmer-hacker-artist, Grant develops new tools and techniques for creating and managing agroecosystems, including GPS Keyline technology, custom tree planters, and electric tractors. Leveraging a background in agricultural and commercial land management and brokerage, Grant will share innovative ways to gain land access, design a diverse farm, and create a broadacre permaculture farm that yields abundant rewards.
Grant bootstrapped his venture from nothing, just bare land, yet today he has a thriving business and makes a good living from his farm. There was no infrastructure on his land, nothing, just bare land, no buildings, electricity or water. He is leasing the land with option to buy – long-term land tenure with a predetermined strike price. Yes, he does workshops, but they are not his primary source of income – the land itself generates his main sources of revenue.
Grant went to a conventional agricultural college and took a horticultural path. However, he soon started to believe something was wrong with the conventional system and began searching for a viable alternative, eventually finding permaculture. Following graduation, he became involved with startups, and also gained some valuable experience as a real estate agent. Nonetheless, to him, food security was the most important path to pursue.
He started a successful commercial garlic growing operation on rented land and began to play an active role in the new food and farm movement, but had a problem all too common for novice farmers: land access. However, through networking with farmers at the 2013 Practical Farmers Annual Conference, he eventually found a permanent home at Versaland Farm near Iowa City, and Grant hit the ground running.
Currently, VersaLand is developing an agricultural ecosystem that seamlessly blends technology and tradition. It’s a silvopasture, an agroforestry practice that includes both trees and livestock. Grant focuses on resilient farm infrastructure, perennial field crops, superfoods and grazing management. Using a keyline water management system, Versaland showcases the early stages of an agroecological design alongside mature oaks and hickories.