New Forest Farm is a diverse Restoration Agriculture research site in the Driftless Area of Southwestern Wisconsin.
Founded and stewarded by the Shepard family for over 20 years, the land is one of the country’s most ambitious large-scale conversions of former degraded corn farm into a perennial agricultural ecosystem.
New Forest Farm, located in Viola, Wisconsin, was once a worn-out rowcrop farm and has since become a 106-acre showcase commercial-scale perennial agricultural operation. It is considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States. The farming system layout was founded on Shepard’s innovations in managing the runoff distribution, retention and control of water throughout the property. Next they implemented adaptive mass-selection breeding select perennial crops based off plant families abundant amongst the oak savanna, successional brushland, and eastern woodlands ecotypes that constituted the region prior to commercial agriculture.
With the water management infrastructure in place, trees, shrubs, vines, canes, grasses, forbs and fungi were planted in likeness to their respective ecological niches as well as organized to optimize efficiency in harvesting and management. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, and apples are the primary woody crops. Various ongoing tree crops research sites are nested about the farm as well, and are an important feature in his adaptive, resilient restoration agriculture system.
New Forest Farm
New Forest Farm is a planned conversion of a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna, successional brushland and eastern woodlands as the ecological models.
Overall, the land attempts to mimic the oak savanna biome. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food, fuel, medicines, and beauty. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, apples, and elderberries are the primary woody crops, and are planted along a keyline™-inspired water management pattern.
Between the tree crops, the grassy alleys are often grazed by cows, pigs, turkeys, sheep, pigs or chickens. These systems are building soil, retaining water, sequestering carbon, diversifying habitat, and cultivating the human being and our ecology.
The farm is entirely solar and wind powered and farm equipment has the capacity to be powered with locally produced biofuels that are not taken from the human food chain.
Come witness and learn from this twenty year old large scale perennial polyculture experiment!
Tour the Farm
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Join Mark for a tour of New Forest Farm.
Come join us for a beautiful walk at the farm. This marks the latter half of tree crops harvesting season where chestnuts, walnuts, apples, pears, grapes are bountiful. Come equipped for all weather. The weather at this time of year is usually beautiful, but make sure you have on hand rain gear, sun gear and comfortable waterproof boots. There is a lot to see, so please arrive at this event on time, as we’ll be getting started promptly at 1pm. Space is limited. $20/person. We’re having a pig roast fundraiser dinner following the tour. We hope you ca stick around! Submit a comment below for more information about this tour and register with the link below.
(tour registration does not include the cost for the Pig Roast Dinner Fundraiser)
Meet at the cydery building where the tour will begin. It has a big green metal roof and is visible from County Highway I on the N side of the street.
The experience could include sunny skies, rainfall, and walking across hilly terrain. Being mindful of possible sudden changes in weather. It is wise to come prepared wearing long pants, close-toes hiking shoes, rain gear, and sun protection. Be sure to carry along your own water and snacks.
Short overnight stays are also possible for those traveling long distances or who wish to stay a bit longer. Please be prepared to sleep outdoors and contribute to collective food & work if needed.