Savanna Institute

Laying the groundwork for widespread agroforestry in the Midwest

Madison, WI   |  www.savannainstitute.org

Mission

The Savanna Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to lay the groundwork for widespread agroforestry in the Midwest US. We work in collaboration with farmers and scientists to develop perennial food and fodder crops within multifunctional systems grounded in ecology and inspired by the savanna biome. The Savanna Institute strategically enacts this mission via research, education, and outreach.

Ruling year info

2015

co-Executive Director

Keefe Keeley

co-Executive Director

Dr Kevin J Wolz PhD

Main address

1360 Regent St. # 124

Madison, WI 53715 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

46-3004682

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (K05)

Biological & Life Sciences (U50)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Much attention has been given to implicating agriculture in the greatest problems of our time: mass extinction, climate chaos, and environmental injustices. With important exceptions, little attention has been given to developing solutions that address the root causes of these problems. Most efforts have instead relied on incremental improvements to mitigate biodiversity loss, carbon emissions, and soil and water resource degradation. These are problems in agriculture.

The problem of agriculture, as Wes Jackson put it, however, may be the system itself: annual crops grown in monocultures that require massive fossil inputs. By radically reworking these components of dominant agricultural production systems, our mission is to fix the problem of agriculture.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Tree Crop Development

In the transition to widespread agroforestry, tree crops are the core tools at our disposal. Tree crops have the potential to enhance agricultural productivity and simultaneously restore key ecosystem services, such as sequestering atmospheric carbon, capturing excess nutrients, stabilizing soil, buffering floods, and reducing drought sensitivity. The transition will require (1) resilient tree crops for food & fodder, and (2) robust supply chains with scalable infrastructure. The Institute's core programs within the Tree Crops pillar include:
- Supply chain analyses & impact investment strategy
- Decentralized variety performance trials
- Germplasm collection & variety development
- Tools & best practices for farm management & finances

Population(s) Served

In our vision for the future agriculture in the Midwest, tree crops are not deployed across the landscape in vast monocultures. Instead, they are integrated into diverse, multifunctional agroforestry systems. In particular, we are developing systems that have (1) ecological resilience via effective tree-crop-livestock integration, and (2) economic resilience via scalable multifunctional systems. The Institute's core programs within the Farming Systems pillar include:
- Agroforestry demonstration farms
- On-farm economic & ecological research
- Establishment & management best practices
- Silvopasture optimization experiments
- Perennial pathways educational series
- Farm case study program

Population(s) Served

Widespread agroforestry adoption across the Midwest will require substantial collaboration among a diverse array of stakeholders. Most importantly, the transition will require (1) expert agroforestry farmers, and (2) engaged landowners & investors. Social resilience via robust stakeholder connectivity will fuel the agricultural transition. The Institute's core programs within the Stakeholders pillar include:
- On-farm apprenticeship program
- Online educational webinars and videos
- Field days, workshops, and conferences
- Landowner & investor education
- Land access research & innovation

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of conference attendees

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Each year, the Savanna Institute hosts the Perennial Farm Gathering, where farmers, landowners, researchers, educators, and other agroforestry stakeholders come together for several days of sharing.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our basic strategy is to develop agricultural systems modeled after an exceptionally productive ecosystem: the savanna. In natural savannas, once common throughout the corn belts and bread baskets of the world, life flourishes in diversity. Savannas protect soil, regenerate nutrients, filter water, sequester carbon, harbor wildlife, and contribute to human well-being. Agricultural savannas can also function this way, taking the form of natural savannas, but with intentionally-designed and intensively-managed combinations of plants and animals that are valuable to humans for food, fuel, and fiber.

A pivotal goal of this emerging paradigm is the replacement of annual grains grown in monoculture – which supply the bulk of the human diet – with calories harvested in staple quantities from perennial plants grown in polyculture with integrated livestock. Nature works this way, powered by linked cyclical systems, without fossil inputs. Our agriculture must aim to do likewise.

We are not starting from scratch, nor are we alone in our vision. "Agroforestry", broadly defined as the intentional integration of trees with crops or livestock, is an existing body of research and policy that serves as a foundation for our work. Agroforestry encompasses a wide range of practices, although the systems we emphasize leverage highly productive tree and shrub crops grown in polyculture with integrated livestock. These integrated systems can provide many economic and ecological advantages over the conventional production agriculture system.

Key economic drivers include:
- Overyielding: more production per acre by
growing multiple crops in the same field
- Crop analogs: existing annual crop value
chains leveraged for new perennial crops
- Resilience via product diversification

Key ecological benefits include:
- Carbon sequestration
- Soil and nutrient stabilization
- Biodiversity enhancement
- Resilience to ecological pressures

The Savanna Institute works in collaboration with farmers and scientists via research, education, and outreach. Our research is cooperative and participatory: scientists and farmers work together to collect crucial data concerning the economic, ecological and social impact of agroforestry. We also facilitate collaboration among scientists at other institutions and farmers who are keen on research. Beyond research, our mission includes education. We help farmers think through questions about planning a new enterprise, including forthright acknowledgment of risks involved. We also facilitate knowledge exchange via on-farm field days, and a formal mentorship program is in development. To further extend knowledge-sharing among geographically-dispersed farmers, we are also developing virtual communities of practice within our new PerennialMap.org, a centralized hub for perennial farmers across the US to find each other, join together, and share information.

The Savanna Institute has engaged thousands of farmers and landowners across the Midwest through research, education, and outreach. We will continue to expand our programs and collaborations as our organization grows.

Financials

Savanna Institute
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Savanna Institute

Board of directors
as of 9/23/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Rebecca Hegner

Synergy Circle

Term: 2020 -

Tory Dahlhoff

Greater Peoria Economic Development Council

Mike Murray

CDK Global

McKenzie Beverage

The University of Texas at Austin

Will Babler

AttenBabler Risk Management

Rebecca Hegner

Synergy Circle

Sallie Calhoun

Paicines Ranch

Kathy Dice

Red Fern Farm

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/16/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data