Restoration Agriculture: Balancing Agriculture and the Environment

Restoration agriculture posits that agriculture and natural environments do not have to be at odds—and that imitating nature may be the most efficient way to produce perennial food crops.

Polyculture apple orchard
Not your typical apple "orchard." Daffodils at the base of the trees eliminate sod while repelling rodents and providing early spring nectar and pollen for bees and cutflowers. Iris between the trees also provide sod control while yielding cutflowers and tubers used by a skin-care products company. Comfrey (large green leaves) is used by a medicinal herb company and accumulates potassium and calcium while providing overwintering habitat for predatory insects and substrate for morels. This "guild" of compatible plants is only a small part of the larger system which includes (on the left) chestnut, grape, hazelnut, rugosa rose, Siberian pea and currants and pears, with seedless grapes (on the right). The pattern then repeats itself across the hillside. Hogs are used for pest control when they graze through the system to harvest the pest-infected "June drop" and after harvest when they eat the pest-riddled fruit that pickers toss on the ground.
Photo courtesy Acres U.S.A.