Event Location
3540 Engineering

Mechanical Engineering Seminar

Friday, January 11, 2019

10:00 a.m., 3540 Engineering Building

Refreshments Served at 10:00 a.m.

Technology Needs for Bio-mimicked Perennial Agriculture

Mark Shepard

Forest Agriculture Enterprises LLC


How can we manage terrestrial canopy architecture for photosynthetic optimization simultaneous with mechanized utilization in natural plant community mimics? This is an almost "ultimate" Rosetta Stone to provide for both human needs and environmental services.

Outline of talk:

  • Intro to agricultural plant community mimicry
  • Designed photosynthetic optimization – spatial & temporal 
  • Mechanization related to planting, maintenance, harvest, post-harvest handling, value-added processing, industrial ingredients & products
  • Honey locust to be used as a hands-on example.


Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises LLC, founder of Restoration Agriculture Development LLC and award-winning author of the book, Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers. Mark has also been a farmer member of the Organic Valley cooperative, the world’s largest Organic Farmer’s marketing co-op, since 1995. He is most widely known as the founder of New Forest Farm, the 106-acre perennial agricultural savanna considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States.

New Forest Farm is a planned conversion of a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna, successional brush land and eastern woodlands as the ecological models. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food (for humans and animals), fuel, medicines, and beauty. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts and various fruits are the primary woody crops. The farm is entirely solar and wind powered and farm equipment is capable of being powered with locally produced biofuels.

Trained in both mechanical engineering and ecology, Mark has developed and patented equipment and processes for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of forest derived agricultural products for human foods and bio fuels production.

Mark was certified as a Permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture design from Bill Mollison, the founder of the international Permaculture movement. He teaches agroforestry and Permaculture worldwide. 

Persons with disabilities have the right to request and receive reasonable accommodation. Please call the Department of Mechanical Engineering at 517-355-5131 at least one day prior to the seminar; requests received after this date will be met when possible.