Agroforestry Demonstration Farms

Farm-scale agroforestry in action

Located in Illinois and Wisconsin, Savanna Institute’s demonstration farms serve as accessible hubs to educate farmers and the public, provide tree crop germplasm repositories and variety trials, and show how agroforestry can be practiced within different regions. They are developed in partnership with public and private landowners and directly managed by the Savanna Institute to ensure robust, science-based design, fieldwork and education around agroforestry, and to improve long-term economic and ecological monitoring.

Silverwood Park Demonstration Farm is a publicly accessible education site for agroforestry systems located in Edgerton, Wisc. At a county park named for Irene Silverwood, the demonstration farm is designed and managed as an innovative public-private partnership.

sunflowers growing in teh alleys at silverwood park
Check back soon for more demonstration farms in development across the Midwest.

World-Class Agroforestry Demonstrations

Midwest farmers are slow to adopt practices they have not seen demonstrated on the scale of a commercial farm. To make transformational, systems-level change in agriculture in the Midwest, we must demonstrate how agroforestry works on a commercial scale. Similar demonstrations in Europe and Canada by universities and NGOs have greatly increased agroforestry adoption. This is why Savanna Institute’s world-class agroforestry demonstration farms are a critical part of our work.

Silverwood Park Demonstration Farm – Dane County, WI
In 2019, Savanna Institute planted an 18-acre alley cropping demonstration area — the first of its kind in the Midwest — into a field of organic row crops at Silverwood Park, a public park in Dane County, Wisc. near Edgerton. Chestnuts, elderberry, black currant, black walnut and hybrid poplar were interplanted between rows of organic soybeans. The farm also includes an edible windbreak and a tasting orchard with diverse fruit and nut species for community events. The farm’s primary project objectives are education, research and demonstration of the agroforestry system’s profitability.

Spring Green Demonstration Farm + Campus – Spring Green, WI
Savanna Institute’s headquarters is located at its network of four demonstration farms in Spring Green, Wisc. that create a world class campus for studying agroforestry in practice. The Spring Green Campus is located on the lower Wisconsin River in the Driftless Area, and surrounded by a vibrant community of innovative farmers, key partners and robust local food markets. These attributes lend well to showcasing how agroforestry systems can protect local waterways and build markets and value chains for its products. It will also demonstrate opportunities for silvopasture within agroforestry systems and offer a venue to research the benefits of silvopasture for livestock and ecosystems.

Memorial 4-H Camp at Allerton Park – Monticello, IL
Allerton Park is a 1,500-acre park in Monticello, Ill., near Champaign-Urbana, owned by the University of Illinois. The Savanna Institute manages a 35-acre alley cropping demonstration farm near the Park’s Memorial 4-H Camp that features rows of hardwood timber with alleys of annual row-crop rotation. The tree rows also host an innovative groundcover experiment featuring native prairie and more conventional groundcover managed in three different ways (herbicide, weed mats, and mowing).

Fields Restored – Oregon, IL
Fields Restored is a 166-acre row-crop farm near Oregon, Ill., owned and operated by the Williams family. The family first worked with Savanna Institute to transition 20 acres to alley cropping in 2015. After seeing the rapid revitalization of this parcel, they are now committed to converting more of their farm into the primary agroforestry demonstration farm of Northern Illinois.

Memorial 4H Camp Demonstration Farm at Allerton Park in Monticello, IL features a 35-acre alley cropping demonstration established in 2019 where the Savanna Institute researches different management techniques for native prairie groundcover.

Become an agroforestry apprentice

Each summer the Savanna Institute runs an on-farm agroforestry apprenticeship program. This program pairs beginning farmers with experienced agroforesters for 10 weeks of hand-on training and mentoring. Program participants also join an online course and travel to area farms as a cohort to build their network and gain exposure to the wide range of agroforestry practices present across the Midwest.