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Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises LLC and founder of Restoration Agriculture Development. He runs New Forest Farm, the 106-acre perennial agricultural savanna considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States.
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.
Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food (for humans and animals), fuel, medicines, and beauty. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts and various fruits are the primary woody crops. The farm is entirely solar and wind powered and farm equipment is powered with locally produced biofuels that are not taken from the human food chain.
Trained in both mechanical engineering and ecology, Mark has developed and patented equipment and processes for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of forest derived agricultural products for human foods and bio fuels production. Mark was certified as a Permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture design from Bill Mollison, the founder of the international Permaculture movement.
Mark serves on the board of the Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council. He teaches Restoration Agriculture worldwide. He is a co-founder of the online education platform known as the EAT Project (Ecolonomic Action Team). Mark is a farmer member of the Organic Valley cooperative, the worlds largest Organic Farmer’s marketing co-op, and is the founder and chief Cydermaker for the Shepard’s Hard Cyder winery in Viola, Wisconsin.