In the early 90s, Mark and Jen Shepard bought a degraded corn farm in Viola, Wisconsin, and began to slowly convert it from row-crops back to a native oak savanna that would become one of the most productive perennial farms in the country.
After 8 years of homesteading in Alaska (arriving just as the Homestead Act was expiring) where they had been forced by low-paying jobs to discover "which trees, shrubs, bushes, and vines we could get food from", they arrived in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin ready to apply their knowledge of permaculture ("permanent agriculture").
Over the past nearly three decades, Mark has planted an estimated 250,000 trees on the 106-acre farm. The main agroforestry crops are chestnuts, hazelnuts, and apples, followed by walnut, hickory, cherry, and pine (for the nuts). For short-term income, the couple planted annual crops, like grains and asparagus, in alleys between the fruit-and-nut-bearing trees. Cattle, pigs, lambs, turkeys, and chickens act as pest control and free composters as they roam the savannas of the farm.