Restoration Agriculture: Excerpts from Mark Shepard’s New Book

QUOTABLES FROM “RESTORATION AGRICULTURE” BY MARK SHEPARD. p.285. ” ‘But can I make any money doing this? [Restoration Agriculture]’ More than likely you are still firmly within the mind control of the ‘myth of profitable agriculture’ and are not likely to believe me anyway when I actually dare to say ‘Yes!” However nobody has to believe me. … I am not going to belabor the issue, but will merely make some simple comparisons here.

Let’s use corn as an example one last time: take corn at the $8.00/bushel selling price x 150 bushels per acre = $1200.00 per acre in gross revenue. The $1200.00 per acre gross revenue minus $250.00/acre of production = $950.00 net per acre.

Now for chestnuts: Chestnuts at the $5.00/lb selling price x 1000 lbs (at the low end of their production range) per acre = $5000.00 per acre in gross revenue. The $5000.00 per acre gross revenue minus a $83.00/acre cost of production = $4917.00 net per acre.

Do we really need to discuss this further or should I meet you down at the bank where you might be borrowing more money to plant corn? Now what if the chestnut farmer is also harvesting 7000 lbs of red currants on that same acre? And 2000 lbs of asparagus? And two cattle, four hogs, 10 turkeys, a family of bluebirds, a colony of least weasels and three species of endangered prairie flowers?

The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri-Columbia can provide the economic models if there are any still unconvinced readers.”

RESTORATION AGRICULTURE = Agriculture which restores land to a healthy state, rebuilds ecosystems, reverses desertification, reverses topsoil loss … AND restores the human body and soul in the process. There are three major branches of Restoration Agriculture (on land) of which I am aware: (1) Mob Grazing, (2) Agroforestry, and (3) Gardening. The United States leaders in these fields are, as far as I can tell, Greg Judy, Mark Shepard and Paul Gautschi, respectively. Greg and Mark have begun to collaborate (as of last week) and I expect they will both collaborate with Paul Gautschi soon. Restoration Agriculture stands in contrast to Destructive Agriculture such as row cropping of annuals such as corn, soybeans and wheat which not only causes topsoil loss, but also is hugely labor intensive and extremely dependent upon external, diminishing resources. Continuous graze ranching which includes feedlots is another example of Destructive Agriculture.

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