Mark Shepard

Our dad planted
a pecan grove
when he was in his mid-70’s.
And so, though it seems we should have started
a restorative agriculture project
many years ago,
we are glad that we are starting
in just a couple of weeks.
(And we’re no where near
our 70th decade!)
A permaculturist,
farmer, teacher, consultant
and author,
Mark Shephard will be here April 5-7
and in Oklahoma the following week
for farm consultations.
Since 1994,
Mark has been developing
a restorative ag project
on his farm in Wisconsin.
He consults and teaches
all over the world,
including, recently,
Kenya—which gives us hope
that we here on the drought-plagued
mixed grass prairie
(not unlike Kenya’s savannah)
can build a forestry ag farm.
Restorative Agriculture,
or Forestry Agriculture,
is modeled on nature’s natural systems.
Mark writes:

Annual monocropping produces nearly all of the grain, meat, vegetables, and processed foods consumed today. These practices require giant machinery, tilling, and the application of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, resulting in the eradication of biodiversity, the erosion of topsoil, and contributes 30% of global carbon emissions – more than from any other source. 

Despite the massive human efforts applied to farming, we are woefully short of the inherent resilience, stability, and outright beauty of natural ecosystems. We need look no further than native ecosystems for a template of how to move forward from the many woes of annual monocropping.  This is our goal and mission: Redesigning Agriculture in Nature’s Image. 

By intentionally designing and planting perennial ecosystems, we remove carbon dioxide from the air, provide habitat for wildlife, produce food, prevent soil erosion, and begin the creation of ecologically sustainable human habitats. 

Cover Photo
Mark Shepard’s food forest in Wisconsin

On Friday evening, April 5,
Mark will make a presentation
about forestry ag
at HeBrews cafe on the square
in Perry, OK. (Free, open to all.)
Then, Saturday and Sunday,
he will be here at Turtle Rock Farm
helping us choose our forestry ag locations,
keyline the natural contour of the land,
dig swales and berms for water capture,
advise on planting of food trees, bushes
and other plants;
and consider the advisability of grazing.
Participants are welcome both Saturday and Sunday
for hands-on demonstrations and teaching.
(Sign up on our website.)

As was true for our father,
who didn’t see the first harvest
of his pecan grove,
we may not see the fully developed
forestry ag system on our farm.
But, if we get to work
building a sustainable system,
our children
and grandchildren
will.