Keeping you informed with perennial farm resources

Whether you’re a beginner looking to lease land or an established farmer diversifying their crop fields, we have resources to guide your farm planning. Educators and outreach agents can download our handouts to promote perennial crops in the region. Investment reports share industry research that could unlock the potential for perennial food markets. Explore our books and reports to learn more.

Latest Reports

Designing an Effective Long-Term Agroforestry Lease: An Interactive Guide
Black Currants: A Superfruit for the Midwest
Partnering for Agroforestry: Case Studies

Most Requested Resources

Interest in agroforestry is growing across the Midwest. Check out Savanna Institute’s popular free infosheets about agroforestry. Our most requested resources are related to the key agroforestry practices and choosing perennial tree crops.

Understanding Agroforestry Infographics
Key Perennial Crops

Perennial Pathways Planting Tree Crops

  • A comprehensive, 110-page guidebook to designing and installing farm-scale edible agroforestry
  • Indispensable for new agroforestry farmers throughout the stages of farm startup
  • Available as a free PDF download and also as a book shipped directly to you for $26
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Agroforestry Education Collection

Expanding opportunities to learn and engage with regenerative agriculture

To grow agroforestry in the Midwest, we are working to build the educational and outreach tools needed to reach people who want to plant trees for the climate, for food security, and for legacy.

Illinois Agroforester’s Report: 2020 – 2022
Urban Agroforestry Training Programs: A Joint Report

Long-term Lease Resources

Practicing agroforestry requires long-term access to land. This collection of land access and landowner scenarios from some of the Midwest’s perennial farmers offers answers to key questions for agroforestry planning.

Download the resources to think through your own unique land access approach.

Designing an Effective Long-Term Agroforestry Lease: An Interactive Guide
Inspirations for Creating a Long-Term Agricultural Lease for Agroforestry Workbook
Generating Value Through a Long-Term Agroforestry Lease: Tipsheet for Landowners

Growing Midwest Berries

Resources for growing perennial fruit shrubs

Shrub crops are a relatively easy entry point for farmers wishing to explore agroforestry. Elderberries and black currants are two hardy perennial crops that bear fruit in the second or third year after planting. 

Download the Grower Guides to learn more about growing elderberries and black currants.

American Elderberry: A Native Perennial Crop for the Midwest
Black Currants: A Superfruit for the Midwest

Impact Investment Plans

What will it take to catalyze agroforestry in the Midwest?

The Savanna Institute has talked with experts across the value chain about the top ten bottlenecks for the Midwest Hazelnut and Eastern Chestnut industries. Our Impact Investment Plans help Midwest farmers and businesses understand how they can access opportunities available in these promising perennial crop markets.

Download the free reports to learn more.

Overcoming Bottlenecks in the Eastern US Chestnut Industry
Overcoming Bottlenecks in the Midwest Hazelnut Industry
Hazelnut Report
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Silvopasture Research

Livestock Impacts on Silvopasture Tree Establishment

Silvopasture is the integration of livestock, forage, and trees in one farming system. To answer fundamental questions faced by farmers practicing silvopasture in the Midwest region, the Savanna Institute tested three production methods at four partner farms. Learn more in this research brief.

Food Safety in Silvopasture

Livestock are often viewed as a liability when it comes to food safety on farms. However, they are also key to making farms function more as healthy ecosystems. Livestock can be used in agroforestry systems for clearing weeds, controlling insects and pests, scratching and digging to prepare ground for planting, spreading and cycling nutrients through excretion, and cleaning up fallen nuts and fruits. Learn more about managing risks in this guide.

Do you have a question?

Ask an Agroforester

Where can I buy plants?

Our partners at Canopy Farm Management, based in Illinois and Wisconsin, have perennial plant material available through its bare-root nursery. When you purchase through Canopy, a portion of the sales help to support Savanna Institute’s nonprofit mission. For more nurseries in your area, check out this National Nursery and Seed Directory.

What trees or shrubs should I plant?

The plants you choose will depend on the natural resources on your land and your farm goals. Timber trees require low investment and minimal ongoing maintenance over a longer period of time ranging 20 to 50 years depending on species. Fruit and nut trees require higher initial investment and establishment maintenance, but can provide annual returns once established (approximately 5 to 10 years depending on species). Additional shrubs and crops can be planted within the tree rows between tree species. Learn more about perennial crops.

Where are your demonstartion farms?

The Savanna Institute runs demonstration farms in Central Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. We also have partners in Michigan and Minnesota who share their farms for educational events. Our demonstration at Silverwood Park in Wisconsin is open to the public, and the rest are open during events and by appointment only. Learn more about our demonstration farms.

Staffer slides protective plastic tube around hazelnut sapling as part of agroforestry research at Savanna Institute's Valley Farm, Spring Green, Wisconsin.