Lily Springs is a 90 acre property nestled in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin that had not been farmed in 30 years.  It has a mix of habitats that include woodland, red pine plantation, wetland, old fields and a spring-fed lake.  In 2014 we began working with the family to coalesce their vision for an education demonstration farm providing “gateway” experiences for urban and rural people interested in building a resilient future.  The following goals emerged from our discussions: 

  • Bring the land back to health and into a regenerative state for the long term so it can produce nutritious food for people and animals
  • Create learning opportunities through the work that would help others build regenerative systems
  • Develop viable business and succession plans based on perennial crops to support the farm

The farm design includes the following elements:

  • Red pine plantation transitioned back to a productive oak savanna over the next 10 years.  Use goats to clear the understory, a mushroom slurry and diverse polyculture of grasses to remediate the soil, then plant trees and shrubs.
  • An old field transitioned to a hazelnut and berry alley cropping system.  Use intensively grazed cattle and cover crops to remediate the soil, then plant long-term perennials.
  • A second old field transitioned to diverse pasture mix for grazing, an asparagus alley crop, a mini orchard and u-pick food forest, research plots, mushroom spawn and plant nursery.  Use diverse cover crops to remediate the soil, then establish long-term perennials.
  • Field and property line buffers to mitigate chemical and GMO drift while providing pollinator and wildlife habitat.
  • Farm buildings for on-farm sales, food processing, equipment storage, animal shelters, and plant propagation.
  • Water capture, storage and distribution.

As part of the farm management team, we continue to work with the family and Regeneration Partners on business plans, crop enterprise budgets and succession planning.

Key elements – group facilitation, land design, transition planning, financial planning, implementation and farm management support, targeted grazing, agroforestry, silvopasture, alleycropping, covercropping, agritourism – innovations identified. 

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