We’re laying the groundwork for widespread agroforestry. Will you join us?

Creating systems-level change for Midwest agriculture

The science is clear: incremental change is no longer enough to address the scale of our climate crisis. It’s time for systems-level change—across every sector, on every scale. The Savanna Institute works to create the systems-level change that could transform Midwest agriculture into a climate solution.

Our Purpose

Inspired by the oak savanna native to the region, the Savanna Institute is a nonprofit organization that supports the growth of diverse, perennial agroecosystems in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi watersheds. 

When people integrate trees or shrubs with other crops and livestock on farms, known as agroforestry, they draw down and store carbon from the atmosphere—an important nature-based climate solution. 

Trees also help farmers diversify and increase income, restore natural habitat for wildlife, improve water and soil quality, and produce healthier crops and happier animals.

Status quo

Bare fields and annual cropping systems can lead to soil erosion, nutrient loss, lack of biodiversity, and polluted water.

Systems change

Perennial systems hold soil and nutrients in place, increase biodiversity, and boost water quality.

How do We
Create Change?

A one-stop shop for research, education, outreach, technical service, demonstration farms, and commercialization efforts, the Savanna Institute is working to scale up agroforestry so farmers can draw down carbon for generations to come. 

We demonstrate what is possible when we plant trees purposefully on farms and public land, and lead ground-breaking research into tree and shrub crops that are well-suited to the oak savanna ecosystem.

What is

Sustainable farming practices that integrate trees or shrubs with crops or livestock. There are many types of agroforestry systems. Five common practices include:

Alley cropping

Alley cropping is the cultivation of crops in the alleys between regularly spaced rows of trees or shrubs.


Silvopasture is the intentional integration of trees, pasture and livestock managed in a single system.

Riparian buffers

Riparian buffers are trees planted as strips of permanent vegetation alongside a stream, lake or wetland.


Windbreaks are strips of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop or livestock production while providing conservation benefits.

Forest Farming

Forest Farming is the cultivation of specialty crops under existing forest canopies.

Our Programs

Looking for one-on-one support and skill-building opportunities in agroforestry? 

Check out our programs to find the resources that are right for you.


Thank you Partners