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Savannas are grasslands with scattered trees and shrubs that often support herds of grazing animals. They are the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the planet, and where we humans are most at home.

Gardens are places where humans interact with plants, insects, animals, fungus, soil, sunshine, and water to bring about a flowering of life in a place.

Savanna Gardens LLC provides education and consulting services to help people design, establish, and manage perennial savanna agro-ecosystems throughout the Midwestern Savanna Bioregion. 

 What’s Happening

 

2014 Restoration Agriculture Intensive – July 10-13

OVERVIEW

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On July 10-13, 2014, Savanna Gardens will be hosting a Restoration Agriculture Intensive at New Forest Farm. This four-day course will include an introduction to the major aspects of restoration agriculture, and an immersion into the functioning of a 100-acre farm 18 years into the restorative development process.

 

Course Highlights:

- Full immersion in the theory and practice of Restoration Agriculture

- Biome identification and mimicry
- Keyline design, earthworks, and water management
- Perennial crop establishment, maintenance, and breeding
- Integration of multi-species rotational grazing
- Renewable energy on the farm
- Restoration Agriculture economics
Participants will have the opportunity to experience life at New Forest Farm, one of North America’s largest and most innovative perennial farm ecosystems located in Wisconsin’s beautiful Driftless region. You will have the opportunity to observe and participate in many aspects of farm design and management including keyline design layout and implementation, livestock management, and perennial crop maintenance.

COURSE INSTRUCTORS


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Mark Shepard

Mark is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises, author ofRestoration Agriculture, and runs New Forest Farm, considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States. He was certified as a Permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture design from Bill Mollison, founder of the international Permaculture movement. He has taught his innovative and highly acclaimed permaculture curriculum in workshops and design courses around the world.

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Peter Allen

Peter is an ecologist, grazier, and founder of Savanna Gardens. He has extensively researched complexity theory, restoration ecology, and the history and ecology of Midwestern ecosystems, all of which he applies in the design, restoration, and management of diverse and agriculturally productive savanna ecosystems.

LOCATION

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The course will be held at New Forest Farm  – located 54 miles southwest of La Crosse, Wisconsin and 75 miles northwest of Madison.


LODGING

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Camping is free on the farm. There will be spots to pitch tents. A campfire pit will be provided in a central location. Composting toilets and a solar shower will be available.Participants are also welcome to stay in any of the local inns and bed and breakfasts. New Forest Farm is 25 minutes east of Viroqua, 20 minutes northwest of Richland Center, just over an hour from La Crosse and two hours from Madison.

 

FOOD

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We’ll be cooking up and preparing 2 meals a day from our very own fruits, nuts, vegetables, greens, and meats. We’ll also have snacks, coffee, and tea during the day.


Tuition costs $850 and covers:

- Four-day Restoration Agriculture Intensive Course
- 2 meals/day of farm-grown real food – pastured meat, fruits, vegetables, and greens
- Coffee, tea, breakfast food, and snacks
- Camping
- Access to a solar shower and composting toilets
- Continuing education through online networking with past, present, and future students

2014 Restoration Agriculture Intensive - July 10-13

  • Registration is now open for the 2014 Restoration Agriculture Intensive to be held July 10-13 at New Forest Farm in Viola, WI. To secure your spot, please fill out this form and make a $300 non-refundable deposit either online via Paypal, or by sending a check to: Savanna Gardens PO Box 134 Viola, WI 54664
 

Verification

Introducing: Mastodon Valley Farm and Farm Shares

Greetings all!

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We’ve got some big news. We bought a farm! Right down the road from New Forest Farm, where we’ve been raising animals for the past two years. We’re going to continue grazing there, but we’re excited to get started planting trees, building a house, and restoring an overgrazed and overcropped farm, right outside of Viola, Wisconsin.

New Website and Farm Shares

We’ve started Mastodon Valley Farm as the business to produce and sell our ecosystem-fed meats. Savanna Gardens, LLC will continue providing Restoration Agriculture education and consulting services, but will no longer sell meat. Instead of the Club, we’re moving more towards a Farm Share model that provides us the up-front capital we need to raise animals, while still offering the flexibility of the Club model.

We’re looking for folks from Grab a Share!

Workshop: Farming the Savanna

 

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On Saturday, March 15th, Peter Allen will be teaching full-day workshop through the Driftless Folk School on the management of ecologically functional and agriculturally productive landscapes in the Midwest.

Description: For millions of years, the Upper Midwest was home to some of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the planet – Oak Savannas. This workshop will provide an ecological history of Midwestern Savannas as a context for the restoration and development of ecologically functional and economically generative savanna agroecosystems. Participants will learn the basic principles for managing agricultural landscapes that produce abundant foods while building soil, sequestering carbon, renewing groundwater reserves, and enhancing biodiversity through the intentional integration of trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, flowers, and livestock. Topics will include the integration of water management and Keyline Design, tree crops, and multi-species rotational grazing.

When: Saturday, March 15 from 9am – 4pm

Where: The ARK, Viroqua, WICost: $60

There are still a few spots still available:

Register Here!

Restoration Agriculture Design Course – June 14-21, 2014

Update:

The full Design Course is now full and registration is closed. There are still spots open for the July 2014  Restoration Agriculture Intensive Course.

Overview:

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Savanna Gardens, LLC is is excited to host its second Restoration Agriculture Design Course at New Forest Farm, June 14-21, 2014. Using nature as a model, Restoration Agriculture is the intentional restoration of healthy, functional ecosystems as the context for economically-viable farm operations. Perennial crops, livestock, fungus, and pollinators are integrated to produce abundant food, fiber, and fuel and simultaneously restore critical ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water purification and infiltration, nutrient cycling, and biodiversity.


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Course Highlights:
- Full immersion in the theory and practice of Restoration Agriculture

- Biome identification and ecology
- Keyline design, earthworks, and water management
- Perennial crop establishment, maintenance, and breeding
- Pruning, coppicing, and grafting
- Integrated multi-species grazing
- Renewable energy on the farm
- Restoration Agriculture economics
- Restoration Food – meals prepared daily from produce grown on the farm
- We have opted not to make this an official “Permaculture Design Course” this year, so that we can focus more exclusively on broad-acre farm design and management.
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Participants will have the opportunity to experience life at New Forest Farm, one of North America’s largest and most innovative perennial farm ecosystems located in Wisconsin’s beautiful Driftless region. You will have the opportunity to observe and participate in many aspects of farm design and management including keyline design, livestock management, and the maintenance of perennial crops.


COURSE INSTRUCTORS


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Mark Shepard

Mark is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and runs New Forest Farm, considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States. He was certified as a Permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture design from Bill Mollison, founder of the international Permaculture movement. He has taught his innovative and highly acclaimed permaculture curriculum in workshops and design courses around the world.

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Peter Allen

Peter is an ecologist, grazier, and founder of Savanna Gardens. He has extensively researched complexity theory, restoration ecology, and the history and ecology of Midwestern ecosystems, all of which he applies in the design, restoration, and management of diverse and agriculturally productive savanna ecosystems.

LODGING

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Camping is free on the farm. There will be spots to pitch tents. A campfire pit will be provided in a central location. Composting toilets and a solar shower will be available. Participants are welcome to stay in one of the many nearby inns and bed and breakfasts. New Forest Farm is 25 minutes east of Viroqua, 20 minutes northwest of Richland Center, just over an hour from La Crosse and two hours from Madison.


REGISTRATION

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Tuition for the 2014 Restoration Agriculture Design Course costs $1200 which covers:
- 7 full days of education provided by Mark Shepard and Peter Allen

- Optional, free, gluten-free, locally-produced, organic meals, much of it produced and prepared on-site.
- Camping
- Access to a solar shower and composting toilets
- Access to an extensive library of permaculture and ecological agriculture books and resources during your stay.
To register, please fill out the following form. Space is limited and can only be secured with a non-refundable deposit of $300.

Pigs Make Life Better

Piglet's first milk treat!

In April this year we bought our first milk cow. A week later we bought our first litter of piglets: a crew of heritage tamworth boar brothers, about 20 pounds a-piece, that were plopped lovingly into a cozy little house for the evening. The next day we came to visit them with 3 gallons of fresh milk from Annen and they rushed to us and lapped it up as clumsily as you can imagine baby pigs might. It was pure joy to watch. Since then we’ve fed them several gallons of milk every day. It was definitely everyone’s favorite time of day.

Conditioning animals is often about food: training dogs, cows sometimes, even some parents who try to get their kids to be quiet with milkshakes in the backseat during long car rides. But hanging out with the piggers was much more than feeding. There were days when the pigs ran to us simply because we were there and they wanted to say hi. From across the paddock they’d come up, asking for head scratches and talking a mile a minute. We listened to them, talked back, and laughed, until they got tired and slumped over for nap times and belly rubs.

What was amazi

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ng to us was how fabulous the pigs’ life was. They woke and ate and napped. They wandered around the farm just like we did: nibbling on grapes and apples, mulberries, currants, and chestnuts. When they got sleepy they found sunny spots or shady ones, curled up in big piles, and passed out. They woke again later to poke around and see what was ripe in some other area. Their life was magical, and they constantly exuded their joy and contentment.

We’ve learned a lot from this crew of brothers. They loved each other. They loved and trusted us and we loved and trusted them. We cried a lot to let them all go, especially when we slaughtered and butchered our favorite brothers on the farm for our own nourishment. Those are the most difficult days on the farm. Also the most rewarding. 

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What can you learn from the brothers? Does their energy transfer to your meat? It might be a bit fuzzy and a bit of a projection, but I know I’ve never seen happier pigs, that experienced so little stress and so much joy. If I have a choice of food, (which as a farmer, I absolutely do!) I am only going to choose to put food that’s raised lovingly into my body. This might be a bit too sentimental for most of us grown in industrial, sterile societies far from the real origin of our food. But why turn our backs to it? Why ignore the horrific realities of where your food comes from? Why not accept reality, embrace truth, and create a world where pigs snuggle with their brothers in the shade of chestnut trees every day? Isn’t it beautiful?

By putting happy, loving food into your body, you become that energy and it becomes you. Think about it and experience it. There’s no reason we can’t build a better world this way, and I refuse to think, believe, or eat otherwise.

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Tamworth pigs at New Forest Farm from Savanna Gardens on Vimeo.

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