Getting Started

What is agroforestry?

Farmers who practice agroforestry integrate trees, perennial crops and animals together in farming systems in a way that benefits each species and creates exceptionally productive ecosystems. The Savanna Institute honors this time-tested form of agriculture that was once common in the native oak savannas of the Midwest and recognizes its immense potential today to transform our landscape into a highly productive, resilient ecosystem. Agroforestry is a systems-based way of farming with trees that help farmers regenerate soil, capture carbon, filter water, shelter livestock and wildlife, and grow healthy local food.

Explore our multimedia resources to get started

Agroforestry is the integration of trees, crops and livestock in farming systems. In a nutshell, it means farming with trees.

Understanding Agroforestry Practices

There are several ways to implement agroforestry, and they each have different benefits and challenges. Begin to explore these practices and learn about how they might be used to diversify farm income, meet conservation goals, improve water retention, and even boost crop yield.

Learn more about five key agroforestry practices: Riparian Buffers, Forest Farming, Alley Cropping, Silvopasture and Windbreaks in these handy infographics.

Free Courses

Agroforestry Foundations

The Agroforestry Foundations course is designed to introduce you to a diversity of agroforestry practices, financial arrangements, farm designs and business models while helping you reflect on your own personal values and goals.

Social Justice and Agroforestry

For many people, at least part of their interest lies in being an active participant in an agricultural system that is more environmentally regenerative, economically viable, and socially responsible than the current dominant US agricultural system. Creating a more regenerative and equitable agricultural system through agroforestry, however, requires us to recognize and address the injustices that have led to, and continue to shape, the current system.

Financing agroforestry on your land

Tree crops grow on a different schedule from annual crops, and so financing agroforestry adoption is also different. Our financial resources will help you:

  • Explore our profiles of landowners who have adopted agroforestry to understand how some farmers made the switch.
  • Check out the economic projections for key tree crops of the Midwest.


Ready for some on-farm training?


Each summer the Savanna Institute runs an on-farm agroforestry apprenticeship program. This program pairs beginning farmers with experienced agroforesters for 10 weeks of hands-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.



Contact an Agroforester

Get help planning your agroforestry system. Our community agroforesters can help get you started with perennial agriculture and connect you to technical support and cost-sharing resources.