Programs

On-farm agroforestry training

The Savanna Institute Apprenticeship Program provides experience and technical education for aspiring agroforestry farmers through on-farm training with a mentor farmer as well as community-building opportunities for farmers, apprentices, and those interested in agroforestry. We strive to support all participants to ensure program accessibility and support to historically marginalized and low income groups through diversity, equity, and inclusion training to mentor farmers and through paid apprentice employment. Training days are open to the public, allowing apprentices to become acquainted with the network of farmers and businesses that will become crucial support for their work when they begin farming on their own.

Commercial-scale agroforestry in action

Located in Illinois and Wisconsin, these farms serve as accessible hubs to educate farmers and the public, provide tree crop germplasm repositories and variety trials, and foster adaptation of agroforestry practices to regional conditions. The dual-purpose nature of agroforestry practices can make them a win-win for farmers, allowing them to harvest multiple products from the same land area and access new sources of income.

Ultimately, agroforestry has the potential to be a low-tech, scalable farming practice that enhances farm profitability, ecological resilience, carbon storage, water quality, and rural job creation. These farms are directly managed by the Institute to ensure robust, science-based design, fieldwork, and education and improve long-term economic and ecological monitoring

Catalyzing tree crop industrires in the Midwest

What’s holding back agroforestry adoption in the Midwest? Whether it’s designing a new mechanical harvester, helping hazelnut farmers aggregate, or designing a mobile processing hub for elderberries, the Savanna Institute’s Tree Crop Commercialization focuses on identifying bottlenecks to agroforestry adoption and finding solutions to those limits.

Our staff dig deep into the best research around individual tree crops and then journey throughout the Midwest talking with farmers and others within the value chain to understand the assets and challenges facing the industry. Each year we produce an impact investment report focused on a different crop, and we use these reports to try to catalyze investment in tree crop industries.

The premiere gathering for perennial farmers in the Midwest

Perennial farmers are looking to Savanna Institute’s Perennial Farm Gathering lineup of speakers and networking opportunities to help them better understand how they can apply best practices on their land. The Perennial Farm Gathering is an opportunity for farmers to come together with researchers, investors and thought leaders interested in perennial farming and pastured livestock practices to learn from each other- one of a very few opportunities Midwestern perennial farmers have to connect and share specifically about agroforestry. Farmers, scientists, and people with a general interest in fruit and nut crops and livestock production all find it valuable to learn what other farmers are doing—what’s working well and what needs more work.