A Letter from Canopy Farm Management

As Canopy enters its third year of providing tree planting and management services in the Midwest, the transformative impact of trees and the revitalization of our farms are becoming increasingly apparent. While we are still early in this journey, we already get to witness and savor the sweetness of our first years of labor. Trees are flourishing, emerging from their tubes, and we’ve harvested a variety of small fruits across multiple sites. These early signs fill us with hope and serve as a reminder of the forthcoming abundance that these perennial crops will provide for years to come.

We have now planted over 130,000 trees on 15 sites and provide management services for seven farms. As these numbers grow, we are constantly improving. In the last year, we realized more than a 100% increase in tree planting efficiency; our slowest days in 2023 were faster than our fastest days in 2022! We continue to modify and adjust our fleet of equipment with unique and innovative implements from all over the world. With our team and equipment, we can plant a tree every FOUR seconds. This efficiency enables us to take on larger projects, and we are currently contracted to plant over 160,000 trees this spring with more to follow this fall.  

At Canopy, we often tell our customers, “Planting trees is the easy part – keeping them alive is the hard part!” Though trees may be years away from producing yields, every season critically matters. Each decision, from weeding and mowing to soil management, influences the future yield and growth potential of these trees throughout their lifespan. As such, our team is meticulous about recording and tracking the various techniques we leverage in an effort to create the most comprehensive blueprint for agroforestry management in the Midwest.  

Beyond our farm services, we continue to expand our nursery business. We now grow over 100,000 trees for sale annually, including chestnut, walnut, pecan, hazelnut, heartnut, persimmon, pawpaw, black currant, and elderberry across bare root plants, potted plants, and plugs. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality tree crop genetics available and are enthusiastic about continually expanding the network of growers interested in planting these crops. 

All of these triumphs carried us through the difficult parts of the year. In 2023, we experienced early and severe drought in addition to unsafe air quality and dangerous winds. Though we spent notable field time addressing the resulting on-farm challenges, we were reminded that what we do is all the more important in the wake of a shifting climate. Canopy’s team of agronomists and scientists are among the few in the region with the expertise to navigate these ever-changing conditions on diverse agroecological systems at scale. We hope our efforts will ultimately demonstrate that having a professional, commercial management partner in place can support agroforestry adoption across the region.

Our gratitude extends to this dedicated community of agroforestry supporters, investors, educators, growers, and, of course, the Savanna Institute. Our ongoing partnership has flourished through a multitude of collaborative efforts, spanning genetic trialing to joint field days demonstrating our shared passion for this vital work. Stay tuned for upcoming events on the horizon. We can’t wait to share more exciting developments on our farms with you! 

To unearthing new possibilities and second stories,

Canopy Farm Management

Farm Management Services

Canopy provides tree planting and land management services to farmers and landowners in Illinois and Wisconsin. The business establishes perennial crops, timber plantings, conservation practices, and integrated agroforestry systems. Canopy combines expert staff, thoughtful design, and a mobile fleet of state-of-the-art farm equipment to cost-effectively establish and manage profitable, diverse, and resilient agroecological systems. Canopy’s initial hub is located in Champaign, Illinois, although its mobile fleet travels throughout the state and throughout Wisconsin to serve clients with tree planting and management services.