Michael Fields Agricultural Institute logo
At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

New Video Series Highlights Pioneer Agroforestry Farmers in the Midwest

A new video series on Midwest agroforestry has just been released by the Savanna Institute and North Central SARE. The six-part Pioneer Agroforestry Farm Tour Video Series features brief, detailed interviews with farmers who are advancing agroforestry in the Midwest. The series is currently available on the Savanna Institute’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Each video provides a concise overview of an entire farming operation, using a mix of farmer interviews and in-field footage. In less than ten minutes, each video provides an overview of the farm’s primary crops and livestock, the key challenges and opportunities each farm is dealing with, and some reflective moments with the farmers.

“We can make a difference,” says Terry Durham, one of the farmers featured in the series. “It only takes a few people working hard and being dedicated and loving this earth to make a difference in your community and in this world.”

Created by the Savanna Institute with support from an NCR-SARE Partnership grant, the six-video series documents, synthesizes, and disseminates more than 183 years of collective agroforestry experience. The series features:
● Greg Judy of Green Pastures Farm in Clark, Missouri
● Dan Shepherd of Shepherd Farms in Clifton Hill, Missouri
● Terry Durham with River Hills Harvest Farms
● Harry and Jackie Hoch of Hoch Orchard and Gardens in La Crescent, Minnesota
● Mark Shepard of New Forest Farm in Viola, Wisconsin
● Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice of Red Fern Farm in Wapello, Iowa

“Agroforestry is a sustainable agricultural paradigm that integrates trees with crops and/or livestock,” said Kevin Wolz, Co-Executive Director at the Savanna Institute. “Agroforestry practices can be highly profitable while simultaneously restoring critical ecosystem services degraded by conventional agriculture. Although agroforestry has not yet been widely adopted across the North-Central Region, a collection of pioneer farmers established their farms decades ago, well ahead of the curve. Collectively, these pioneers host a wealth of knowledge gained through experience – both success and failure.”

The Savanna Institute is also hosting “Nutshell talks” with each of the six farmers as a part of the grant. These hour-long webinars will be posted online as they become available. The Savanna Institute is a nonprofit group working to lay the groundwork for widespread agroforestry in the North Central region. They work in collaboration with farmers and scientists to develop perennial food and fodder crops within multifunctional polyculture systems grounded in ecology and inspired by the savanna biome.

All videos were produced by Wil Crombie of Man Alone Media, a Savanna Institute collaborator who manages his own agroforestry farm in southeastern Minnesota.

Since 1988, the SARE program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.