Last spring, I read Mark Shepard’s book, in which he outlines a revolutionary way of farming that endeavors to be permanent and to build up rather than deplete the land. The basis of this restoration agriculture is to use perennials, planted in polyculture, as the main plant life on the land—so that rather than tilling the soil every year, or multiple times a year, the farmer can let residue and organic matter and microbiotic life build up in the soil. To see Mark Shepard’s vision through, we’d have to radically transform our diet, from one based on corn and soy to one based on chestnuts, hazelnuts, other nuts, fruit, and products from grazing animals.
I’m a vegetable farmer, and I rent land year-to-year, which means that I can’t really sensibly invest in tree plantings. However, when I moved into the house where I currently live, I was excited and happy to see large amounts of black walnut trees. Continue reading