Perennial plants return year after year with little maintenance. Much of our current gardening and farming practices use annual plants, which are often much higher in maintenance since they need to be replanted each year. Trees and shrubs containing nuts, berries, and currants make excellent edible landscaping.
Berries that grow well in Iowa include blueberries, lingonberries, juneberries, chokeberries, elderberries, and gooseberries.
These publications will help you understand how to keep your perennial fruit and nut plants thriving.
Backyard Abundance - Polyculture Examples and Planting Guide
Arbor Day - Agroforestry Nuts and Fruits
Arbor Day - Edible Woody Landscapes
Arbor Day - Hybrid Hazelnuts
Growing Currants, Gooseberries, and Elderberries in Wisconsin
Fruits and Nuts for Edible Landscaping (excellent list of harvestig times)
Fruit Cultivars for Iowa - PM453
Planting Woody Ornamentals - PB1612
Planting Bareroot Trees and Shrubs
Apple Pollinator Chart
Use these websites to find and research perennial plants:
Dave's Garden Plant Files - Find plant descriptions and vendors.
Plants for a Future - Excellent database of multifunctional plants.
Stepables - Great resource for researching and purchasing ground covers.