Mark Shepard is the owner and manager of New Forest Farms LLC in Viola, Wisconsin. Established in 1995, New Forest Farm is a conscious conversion of a typical row-crops farm into a perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savannah, 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 and chestnuts, walnuts, and various fruits are the primary woody crops. New Forest Farms has been wholesaling produce since 1995, including asparagus, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, winter squash, and pumpkins.
This past summer they became a licensed hard cyder winery, and Mark regularly stays awake at night inventing farm-scale processing equipment for the less-than-common edible woody crops. New Forest Farms is an energy net-positive farm operating tractors, a delivery truck, and personal auto on farm-raised vegetable oil and selling excess electricity back to the grid.