Mark Shepard is the CEO of Restoration Agriculture Development and Forest Agriculture Enterprises and runs New Forest Farms, a 110-acre perennial agricultural savanna, one of the first of its kind in the U.S. 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 solar and wind powered. Farm equipment has been converted to be powered with locally produced biofuels (straight vevetable oil and biodiesel) from oils that are not taken from the human food chain.
Since 2011 Mark has been working in Tanzania and Uganda designing agricultural and water systems for rural schools, integrating Restoration Agriculture and Permaculture design to establish perennial food systems, simultaneous with vocational training and economic opportunity. 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 was raised a “biodynamic kid” in New England under the tutelage of Helen and John Philbrick (then president of the Biodynamic Association) at Faith Homestead in Duxbury, Massachusetts. He is a member of the Viroqua Biodynamic Group in Viroqua, Wisconsin, makes his own preparations, and shares with the group. He is the author of the bestselling book, Restoration Agriculture: Real-world Permaculture for Farmers, available through Acres USA.