Red Fern Farm: A Sustainable Perma-Cropping System

Permaculture is an old term with hot interest.


During the 2016 Farm Progress Show, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Agriculture honored eight women who continue to make positive contributions to the land. “One of the nominees, Kathy Dice along with husband Tom own Red Fern Farm, an innovative tree and perennial plant nursery, as well as fruit and nut productions (ISUEO WIA).”

Red Fern Farm began as a traditional row crop operation and has been transformed into a sustainable perma-cropping system

Permaculture by definition is a system of agricultural and social design principals centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. Dating back to 1929 when Joseph Russell Smith wrote a book called Tree Crops: A Permanent  Agriculture.

The core principals include:

  1. Care for the earth
  2. Care for the people
  3. Return of surplus

Kathy and husband Tom grow and harvest chestnuts, pawpaws, persimmon, aronia berries, trees, and other perennial plants.


“Our goal is to help decrease erosion by always providing soil coverage.”

There are many opportunities to learn more about permaculture at this years Women Food and Agriculture Network Conference. Panelists will be creating a dialog to discuss sustainability and how we can use native plants to provide. Registration for the conference is open! The conference will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5.

2016 WFAN annual conference.



The WFAN Keynote, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan, will also be discussing permaculture. “Karryn began studying permaculture in 1997 and is a lead permaculture teacher and founding board member for the Finger Lakes (NY) Permaculture Institute. She also teaches sustainability-related courses at Ithaca College (WFAN Conference Homepage).” Check out her website below.




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