What Our Students Are Saying

5 star rating

Terrific Introduction!

Melissa Gower

This seems to me to be absolutely essential information for anyone looking to improve land while gaining products from it. Fascinating and well explained.

This seems to me to be absolutely essential information for anyone looking to improve land while gaining products from it. Fascinating and well explained.

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Course Pricing

Select which course price best matches the size of your classroom and operation.

Change Your Farming Practices

Through this course you will gain new insight into radically transitioning your farm away from the commodity-crop treadmill.

  • Integrated Polyculture

    Learn how to revision your farm into a diversified, resilient polyculture with tree crops, livestock, fruits and vegetables, and more.

  • Permaculture

    Understand the core principles of permaculture design; you will be better able to choose crops and methods of diversification most suited to your farm, your climate, and your interests and abilities.

  • Permaculture Meets Agroforestry . . .

    Learn how to apply the principles of permaculture and the techniques of agroforestry to a specific property to design an integrated system producing food, fuel, fiber, medicines and wildlife habitat.

You will learn . . .

Specific tools and techniques which will be discussed include:

  • Windbreaks

  • Alley cropping

  • Silvopasture

  • Polyculture and permaculture

  • Multi-story forest cropping

  • Erosion best management practices

  • Integrated specialty crops

Course curriculum

  • 2


  • 3

    The Brutal Realities Mandating Restoration Agriculture

    • "Progress" vs. Reality

    • The Education of a Restoration Agriculturalist

    • Nature Heals!

    • Our Crisis in Agriculture

    • The Obscenity of Industrial Chemical Agriculture

    • Challenges Facing Agriculture

    • What Are We to Do?

    • Admitting Problems, Creatively Seeking Solutions

    • Self-Review: Realities Mandating Restoration Agriculture

  • 4

    Farming in Nature's Image

  • 5

    Steps Toward Restoration Agriculture

  • 6

    Example Biome: Oak Savanna Analysis and Plant Options

    • New Forest Farm, Wisconsin

    • Oak Savanna Biome

    • Oaks, Beech, Chestnuts

    • Apples

    • Hazelnuts

    • Rubus and Ribes

    • Grapes

    • Cherries, Plums and Peaches

    • Fungi

    • The Oak-Hickory Variation on the Oak Savanna

    • Self-Review: Oak Savanna Biome

  • 7

    Know Your Biome

  • 8

    Livestock and Restoration Agriculture

    • Animals and Agriculture

    • Nature Abhors a Vacuum

    • Restoration Agriculture and Livestock

    • DISCUSSION: The Vegetarian/Vegan Diet and Animals in Farming Systems

    • Integrating Animals into a Restoration Agriculture System

    • Don't Overlook Trees as Forage

    • Stocking Rates and "Overgrazing"

    • Cattle

    • Pigs

    • Turkeys

    • Sheep

    • Chickens

    • Goats

    • Potential Livestock Problems

    • The Economics of Livestock, and Summary

    • Self-Review: Livestock

  • 9

    Bees as Livestock

    • Bees as Livestock

    • Bees in the Western Hemisphere

    • Our Era of "Modern" Beekeeping

    • BEES IN-DEPTH: L.L. Langstroth, the Father of American Beekeeping

    • And Then Come the Problems . . .

    • Breeding Honeybees

    • Dividing Hives as the Tool for Adaptation

    • Self-Review: Bees

  • 10

    Water and Your Farm

    • Considering Water

    • Contour Farming

    • Other "USDA" Water Management Methods

    • Closing Thoughts on Traditional Water Management

    • Self-Review: Water and Your Farm

  • 11

    Earth Shaping and Advanced Water Management

    • An Introduction to Keylines and Masterlines

    • The Concepts of Water Management On-Farm

    • Keyline Benefits Along the Ridge

    • Keypoint Ponds

    • Ridge Ponds

    • Pocket Ponds

    • Drive-Through Ponds xx

    • Drive-Through Ponds

    • Large Water Events

    • Keylines Drive Farm, Paddock Layout

    • CASE REPORT: Keyline Water Management at New Forest Farm

    • The Subsoiler . . . Creating Topsoil

    • Seeing the Impact of Earthworks on Drainage

    • Closing Thoughts on Earth Shaping

    • Self-Review: Earth Shaping and Water Management

  • 12

    The Transitional Strategy

    • Introduction

    • Meet "Agroforestry"

    • Agroforestry Techniques: Windbreaks

    • Agroforestry Techniques: Riparian Buffers

    • Agroforestry Techniques: Alley Cropping

    • Video Tour: Managing a Tree Lot 10 Years After Planting

    • Practical Advice: Planting Trees

    • Agroforestry Techniques: Silvopasture

    • Video Tour: Silvopasture Conversion through Removal

    • Agroforestry Techniques: Forest Farming

    • Crop Rotations in Agroforestry

    • Closing Thoughts

    • Self-Review: Transitional Strategies

  • 13

    Managing a Healthy Farm Ecosystem

    • Introduction: A Healthy Ecosystem

    • Start with the Soil

    • Finding Balance

    • Soil: Physical and Mechanical Properties

    • Soil: Chemical/Mineral Properties

    • Soil: Biological Activity

    • Pests and Disease in Nature

    • Pests and Disease, a Different Point of View

    • Side Note: Cultural Practices and the Tale of Two Plants

    • Closing Thoughts

    • Self-Review: Healthy Ecosystems

  • 14

    Plant Breeding

    • A Bit of Background First . . .

    • The Truth About On-Farm Breeding

    • SIDE NOTE: Luther Burbank

    • S.T.U.N. . . . Your Secret Weapon

    • Developing "Stunning" Varieties

    • My Perspective

    • The Restoration Agriculture Approach

    • Self-Review: Plant Breeding

  • 15


    • Farm Economics, the Bad News

    • Farm Economics, the Good News

    • Nature Is the Ultimate Low-Cost Producer

    • Look at "Total Site Yield"

    • Joining Together

    • Diversity and Abundance

    • Real Estate Profits

    • Agroforestry Profits

    • It's About Food and Quality of Life!

    • Self-Review: Economics and Profits

  • 16

    Closing Thoughts: Creating a Permanent Agriculture

    • A Call for New Pioneers

    • SURVEY: One Last Request . . .

    • What to Do Next . . .?

  • 17

    Course Bonus Material

    • Interview: Mark Shepard

    • Interview: Bill Mollison, Co-founder of Permaculture

    • Gary Zimmer's 6 Tenets of Biological Farming

    • Book Excerpt: Dung Beetles

    • Book Excerpt: "Turkeys" from Beyond the Chicken

    • Book Excerpt: "Principles of Keyline Design" from Water for Any Farm

    • Resources

  • 18

    Course FAQs/Troubleshooting

    • Technical Troubleshooting

Your Instructor

Senior Instructor

Mark Shepard

Mark Shepard is a permaculture designer, agroforester and ecological farming consultant and is the author Restoration Agriculture and Water for Any Farm. He and his family have transformed a typical 100-acre row-crop dairy farm into a permaculture-based perennial-agricultural ecosystem using oak savannah, successional-brushland and Eastern woodlands as the ecological models. The result is one of the first and finest farm-scale models of permaculture in the United States. Their farm features chestnut, hazelnut and fruit trees, a variety of other fruits and vegetables, and chickens, ducks, pigs and other animals. He has lectured worldwide and consults with growers around the world including teaching permaculture techniques in sub-Saharan Africa. Upper Midwest organic farmers will recognize him as the banjo player in the band Synister Dane.

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