Permaculture, a Dangerous Enterprise

This year’s Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture Program’s  Earth Day Speaker, Mark Shepard of Viola, WI will be visiting campus during Earth Week. At noon of April 18th, he will be presenting on the theory behind his production practice and how it fits into the future of the food system. The talk is designed for all students, faculty and community. The following abstract outlines what Mark will be cover in his presentation. A thirty minute reception will be held after the presentation where attendees will have the opportunity to meet Mark.

Abstract: Mark Shepard farms and teaches in south western Wisconsin where he has been building a 106 acre permaculture paradise for over 15 years.  The farm is a diversified venture that is growing ideas and community culture along with a polyculture of plants, animals and enterprises.  Over 250,000 trees have been planted by the keyline technique in the beautiful coulee district of Wisconsin. Trees and market garden patches are planted on contour to retain water via a network of small pocket ponds and spreader swales that slow and spread rain water and protect the land from erosion.  His farm embodies the radical idea of managing a perennial food ECOLOGY, which means that all of the rules of ecology apply.  According to Mark “When conventional disturbance ceases, (stop the plow and herbicides) a site begins to aggrade… soil fertility increases, organic matter increases, soil life diversity increases, nutrient cycling improves, plant and animal populations and diversity increase.   Pests and diseases come into their “natural” population cycles and levels.  What ends up happening is that input costs (tillage, herbicide, fertilizer, pest control, disease control ) DECLINE and approach zero. When your input costs approach zero, your net profitability increases”.  Mark is encouraging young farmers to contribute to this vision and he backs this up by supporting ‘collaborative enterprisers’.  Aspiring permaculture entrepreneurs learn through doing as they design and implement projects on the ground. In his talk, Mark will explain how and why his permaculture paradise differs from traditional permaculture, how it is a force for good and, explain how he is spreading this dangerous idea through collaborative enterprisers.   Attend this event to learn about his edible woody crops nursery, and how growing trees shrubs, vines, and canes to produce food, medicines, fuels and fiber is revolutionizing agriculture in nature’s image while simultaneously revitalizing culture, stabilizing the economy, and restoring the environment.





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4 thoughts on “Permaculture, a Dangerous Enterprise

  1. Any chance of purchasing a recording of such an event. I live on the other side of the planet but would still like to be exposed to more of Mark’s work as I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen so far.

    Kind regards,
    Cam Wilson

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