As their name suggests, annual crops are plants that are sown and harvested in one, annual growing season. Perennial crops are permanent plantings that live year-round and produce annual harvests indefinitely. The regenerative poultry farm enterprise model integrates both annual and perennial crop production to optimize its regenerative outcomes.
Perennial crop production is a core function of the regenerative poultry ecosystem. In the upper Midwest, the perennial crops that thrive in conjunction with poultry are hazelnuts and elderberries. From an ecological standpoint, these woody shrubs play a critical role in cycling the farm’s energy while restoring the soil and providing shelter to chickens and wild birds alike. Economically, hazelnuts and elderberries provide farmers with additional streams of revenue. Though they take some years to develop, once established, hazelnut and elderberry shrubs can produce exponential yields with minimal upkeep. Both crops are easy to propagate, too.