Day 1

Wednesday, December 6th 

9am – 5:30pm CST

We kick off our Perennial Farm Gathering with an audience favorite: Nutshell Talks. These five-minute talks from our community of farmers, researchers, and perennial enthusiasts deliver the latest updates and innovations from the field. We celebrate our Deep Roots and New Shoots awards, which recognize leaders in the field of perennial agriculture, and we are honored to welcome our first keynote speaker: Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer for her talk, “The Fortress, the River, and the Garden,” and live Q&A. Our community of presenters fill out the day with sessions on persimmons, poultry, funding opportunities, and creative farm design.

Schedule and sessions linked below.

Looking for help? Join the help desk.

9am – 9:30am CST

Welcome with Keefe Keeley, Executive Director at the Savanna Institute

Savanna Institute’s Executive Director Keefe Keeley welcomes all to the Perennial Farm Gathering and sets the stage for three days of discussion, creativity, and nutshell talks with fellow perennial agriculture enthusiasts.

9:30am – 11am CST

Nutshells Talks: Share your perennial story

Moderator: Jacob Grace, host of Perennial AF, Savanna Institute

A perennial favorite of the gathering, our Nutshell Talks invite audience members to share five-minute updates, stories, lessons-learned or nagging questions from their work. You can include slides or other visual aids if you’d like–or you can just talk with guests. Nutshells are a great way to connect with a community of practice and help build knowledge across the region. Sign-up for a five-minute slot when you register for the event. First come, first serve.

10am – 11:15am CST

Agroforestry Ingenuity in the Pacific Northwest

Moderator: Carrie Brausieck, Snohomish Conservation District

Jared Busen, Snohomish Conservation District 

Patrick Shults, WSU Extension, Agroforestry NW

Agroforestry in the Pacific Northwest is being practiced as a better way to produce food, and also inspiring new ways of imaging agroforestry for a plethora of land use challenges. Join us to learn how agroforestry is being adopted by visionary farmers and ecological stewards to address emerging social and ecological concerns in our region. These innovators will tell you about what they are doing in their own words, and share their work developing a cathedral of native trees and shrubs, a new farmland protection and land access model, and agroforestry for salmon restoration.

11:15am – 11:45am CST

Deep Roots, New Shoots Awards

Honoring Rich Straight and Gavi Welbel

Moderator: Keefe Keeley, Savanna Institute

These awards are our way to recognize the accomplishments of, and express our deep appreciation for, those who have worked to advance the science, practice, and adoption of agroforestry.

Rich Straight is a native Iowan who transplanted to Nebraska 38 years ago. He received a Forest Management degree from Iowa State University and has been a city forester, a district forester with the Nebraska Forest Service, an NRCS forester, and recently retired after 23 years with the US Forest Service at the National Agroforestry Center. 

Gavi Welbel is a co-founder and co-director of Zumwalt Acres, a regenerative farm and research hub in Sheldon, IL on the unceded homelands of Kickapoo, Peoria, Potawatomi, Kaskaskia, Ocethi Sakowin, and Myaamia peoples. After graduating from Yale University last May with a degree in earth science and mechanical engineering, Gavi returned to farming, dancing, and building community at Zumwalt Acres.

12pm – 1pm CST

Keynote: “The Fortress, the River, and the Garden” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s talk examines the relationship between three metaphors for types of knowledge. The Fortress is the metaphor for the dominance of western science and its virtual erasure of indigenous knowledge, the River refers to Indigenous models of autonomy and coexistence between western and indigenous knowledge and the Garden examines the potential for a productive symbiosis between western and indigenous knowledges which could grow together in complementarity. This recorded talk runs 48 minutes, followed by a live Q&A with the author.

Watch the Keynote (until Saturday, December 9 at 12pm noon CST)
Password: SavannaInstitute

1pm – 1:45pm CST

Live Q&A with Robin Wall Kimmerer

Moderator: Curt Miene, Advisory Council, Savanna Institute

A mother, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, which has earned her worldwide acclaim. She is also the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. Kimmerer is interested in restoration not only of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land.

A Room of One’s Own Books

Birchbark Books & Native Arts

Arcadia Books


Red Fern Farm

2pm – 3pm CST

Stewarding the Future of American Persimmon Cultivars

Eliza Greenman, Savanna Institute

Historically, the American persimmon has been an important crop for thousands of years throughout North America. Yet, their incredible utility has been reduced to the waning culinary tradition of making persimmon pudding. Using this dish as its guide, this talk will connect Savanna Institute’s work in tree crop breeding to the American persimmon with the unlikely mix of regional folklore, box turtles, and newly affordable genetic tools. We hope to connect Indigenous selection of perennials with developments from our Tree Crop Improvement Program to catalyze persimmons into mainstream agroforestry.

The Nature Conservancy

3pm – 4pm CST

New Funding Opportunities for Agroforestry Farmers

Audrey Epp Schmidt, The Nature Conservancy

Barbara Decré and Fred Iutzi, Savanna Institute

Join the Savanna Institute and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to learn about how the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities grants are making new funding available for agroforestry farmers. This session will give an overview of the scope of the Nature Conservancy’s $64-million project to expand agroforestry in 30 US states and of the partners involved. We will provide information about the practices funded and details on how TNC and partners are building a program aiming at transitioning 30,000 acres of land to agroforestry. Farmers and landowners ready to implement agroforestry systems will also walk away with information on how to work with Savanna Institute and other Technical Service Providers to access this funding.

The Nature Conservancy Sponsor PDF 1

The Nature Conservancy Sponsor PDF 2

The Nature Conservancy Sponsor PDF 3

3pm – 4pm CST

An Ecosystems Approach with Poultry-Centered Regenerative Agriculture

Diane Christofore and Louis Kemp, Regenerative Agriculture Alliance

An introduction to the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance and the Poultry Centered Regenerative Agricultural (PCRA) ecosystem we are working to create with our partners. With guest farmers speaking about their experiences, we will be delving into the intersection of agroforestry and the PCRA production method by looking at the specifics of paddock establishment and management.

Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT Sponsor PDF

4pm – 5:30pm CST

It Isn’t a Recipe! Agroforestry, Agroecology, and Permaculture Design

Emilie Tweardy, Appalachian Sustainable Development

Nance Klehm, Social Ecologies

Tonia Andreina, Savanna Institute, Earth Mama Design

Moderator: Jenn Ripp, Savanna Institute

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the different resources available for perennial planting systems? So many different terms can be used to describe and inform development of perennial systems, but where do you begin and do you need to research *every thing* before taking action? We’ll be discussing how to build your own capacity for implementing holistic design at a place based level. Panelists approach holistic design through lenses of personal experience and innovative design approaches steeped in traditionally stewarded guiding principles. This is a great space for folks looking to get started on their own project and generally build their capacity for project based perennial planting plans.