Open Gate in Mexico Takes the Bull by the Horns




More than 50 people attended HMI’s first Open Gate in Mexico in early June at Rancho El Represo Del Verde near La Colorada, Sonora.  This event was coordinated and facilitated by Holistic Management Certified Educator Iván Aurelio Aguirre Ibarra. Mostly ranchers and ranch staff from the surrounding area, with some technical and professional members of the Sonora Livestock Producers Union, and several professional agricultural consultants attended the event.  It was a day filled with learning, sharing ideas, good food, and making connections.

SONY DSCOrganizers for this event noted that a “New Wave” of active ranch decision makers – young people in their 20s and 30s – are now entering ranch management and influencing the business in a very positive way.


Representatives from the local extension services shared their realization that Holistic Management is much more than a grazing strategy – that it also leads to regeneration and productivity optimization of soils, plants, and animals, impacting the sustainability of entire communities.   Many participants recognized the challenges in transcending traditional ways and renewed their commitments to ‘take the bull by the horns and be the example that shows how livestock can be managed to address major issues like climate change, water availability, and regeneration of rural communities.

The topics for the day revolved around using Holistic Management’s Whole Ranch Business Management to allow the continuance and sustainability of ranching.  In the morning, participants enjoyed presentations under the thatch-roofed meeting area, and after a lunch of range-fed Sonoran-style BBQ, a tour of the ranch to look at plant health and livestock.


Presentation highlights included:

  • Marco Antonio Tarazón Maldonado, owner and host, sharing the challenges that he and his ranch team experience as they implement Holistic Management
  • Ana Bertha Zepeda Valencia, a civil litigation lawyer and co-owner of her family ranch, sharing  her professional experience with the challenges of intergenerational succession of family ranches, strategies for mitigating family conflicts, as well as her personal experiences in implementing her recently acquired Holistic Management knowledge
  • Oscar Benson Rosas, a bovine breeding and reproduction consultant (Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transplant), discussing differences he’s seen in ranches, noting that ranches using Holistic Management principles and planning strategies have superior nutritional levels throughout the year that result in optimized productivity and profits
  • Iván Aurelio Aguirre, rancher and Professional HMI Certified Educator, facilitating a discussion on Holistic Management planning and strategies, and how to get started
Bull composite pic

Oscar Benson Rosas facilitates an evaluation of some recently acquired bulls.


Here are some of the specific results we collected from our post program evaluations:

Question% Participants
Overall Satisfaction with the speakers and presentations (Rated good to excellent)95%
Intent to change management practices as a result of this event98%


What participants had to say:

I loved it!

Very, very interesting.  Innovative!

Good opportunity to exchange grand ideas.

How to preserve the pasture land without having to invest more money

Very good, – I had high expectations


Many thanks to our sponsors for this event:

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The New Livestock Farmer Book Review

livestock farmerThe New Livestock Farmer: The Business of Raising and Selling Ethical Meat by Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Jim Dunlop published by Chelsea Green is the perfect book for beginning farmers and ranchers who are exploring adding livestock as part of the their enterprise mix. The book includes information on cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, goats, and exotics like bison, rabbits, elk, and deer. It covers a variety of topics including the usual on breeds, health concerns, fencing, housing, etc. However, it also really explores some key issues around marketing and processing that provides key information for people new to the livestock industry who may not know the different certification options and some of the legal issues around what you can or can’t do when selling livestock or meat.

The authors intent was to focus on how to step into this industry from a pasture-raised, ethical meat standpoint, and they provide a lot of knowledge about the industry from that stance. However, given the number of animals and topics the book covers, it doesn’t go indepth on some pretty critical issues (like how to graze animals and finish them properly), and having more resources about where to get that information would have been helpful.

There are a lot of people who are excited about “grassfed” meat and want to begin raising it but they don’t really understand all the different issues that come with that one decision. Reading The New Livestock Farmer will definitely educate them. If you are exploring this industry or know someone that is, this book will help them make more informed decisions.

To learn more or to order go to:

Now Accepting Applications for Texas Program

Kerr Center, Holistic Management Whole/Farm Land Managementt Drought Mitigation Workshops, TExas

Apply now for our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers program in Texas

August 10, 2015 Deadline

HMI is now accepting applications from MEN AND WOMEN for our Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Texas program. This program is modeled after our successful Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast and Texas program which ran for six years.
We are pleased to open the program up to men this year.  It will be held in the Central Texas Agricultural region, but anyone willing to attend classes in the Central Texas area are welcome.
"This program has given me the courage, framework, tools, and network to become a farmer. My awareness of the land has changed. I feel an amazing connection and sense of responsibility for bringing the land to a state of health. The network of fellow classmates is priceless. Most importantly, the Holistic Management model constantly reminds me to keep balance in my life on all levels."   - Becky Scasta 2013-2014 Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: program participant

“This program has given me the courage, framework, tools, and network to become a farmer. My awareness of the land has changed. I feel an amazing connection and sense of responsibility for bringing the land to a state of health. The network of fellow classmates is priceless. Most importantly, the Holistic Management model constantly reminds me to keep balance in my life on all levels.” – Becky Scasta 2013-2014 Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: program participant

This is not a quick one-off workshop, but an intense supportive six-month long program where you’ll have a chance to practice what you learn on your land as you go through the program. You’ll be able to share your successes and challenges with other beginning  farmers and ranchers.  If you are a farmer or rancher in Texas  – with less than 10 years farming or ranching experience – you are eligible to apply. You can find locations, dates, and further details and the more.
Partial and full scholarships are available for the program. Regular cost for the program is $500. If you cannot afford to pay in full for this program, please let us know what amount of scholarship you are requesting. Though full scholarships are available, the preferred amount of tuition is on a sliding scale of $150-$500
Hurry, as enrollment is limited and due to popularity of these courses, the selection process is competitive. E-mail HMI Program Manager Peggy Cole ([email protected]) for an application and detailed information.

Getting Started Holistic Financial Planning Course Results

HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Holistic Financial Planning course began in May 2015 with 25 participants from all around the world. This course focused on key financial principles that helped participants learn how to work on their business, not just in their business. This simple approach to financial planning assisted participants to understand the big picture view as well as make critical production decisions based on a clear sense of cost of production for different enterprises. Participants were able to develop a financial plan and identify ways to implement and monitor that plan. The participants were very excited to learn the key economic analysis tools for improved financial decisions for both annual budgets and for long-term investment.

Getting Started Holistic Financial Planning Course Survey Results% Participants -Increased Knowledge or Confidence
Determining your farm’s/ranch’s net worth 87%
Determining your farm’s/ranch’s projected revenue 88%
Determining the weak link in your farm’s/ranch’s enterprises 88%
Identifying log jam and adverse factors 88%
Getting the profit you need from your farm/ranch after the course 88%
Prioritizing and cutting farm/ranch expenses to guide reinvestment in your farm/ranch after the course 88%
Your attitude towards financial planning after the course 100%
Your ability to determine your farm’s/ranch’s rough net worth (balance sheet) after the course 100%
How to increase your farm’s/ranch’s net worth after the course 100%
Determining viable profitable enterprises for your farm/ranch after the course100%
Determining your farm’s/ranch’s projected revenue after the course 100%
Your skills in developing a whole farm/ranch financial plan after the course 100%
Assessing the cash flow of your plan after the course 100%
Overall satisfaction with the course100%

Here’s what the participants had to say:

“It helped me work towards better decision making and planning for profit, as well as being able to play devil’s advocate on potential new enterprises.”

“The content and ideas are very strong.”


“Excellent value and presented so a true beginner is able to begin to grasp the content and immediately start to apply the concepts in a practical – we-can-make-a-profit-this-year sort of way.”

“We learned a lot of valuable information regarding our financial plan. Your time and knowledge is so appreciated.”

“I was handed the tools I need to build my plan.”

Most Useful things I learned:

“The 7 tests on decision making, the overall idea that profit can be planned for, monitoring and that community, financial and environmental aspects actually can happen as a whole.”

“Having a structured and rather straightforward system for monitoring and planning out farm enterprises. Also how this has overlap for other enterprise planning beyond farming such as consulting and other business management.”

“Identifying logjams and weak links. I struggle feeling confident that I have accurately identified the ranch’s problems but at least I am now aware of the importance of viewing the ranch through a lens that’s targeting obstacles and seeking solutions.”

“To identify log jams, to determine net worth and the importance of a financial plan and monitoring it..”

“We have the ability to plot our course, not just respond to circumstances as they arise.”

“How to do the monthly monitoring of expenses and income.”

Featured Participant:

Patricia Maas

Patricia Maas

”The Holistic Management Financial Planning program is one I am very glad to have taken. It’s helped me develop a workable plan for varied enterprises involving ranching and farming.  It’s something that am implementing now and making progress.

This progress is because of learning the varied steps, and tests involved in making sound Holistic Financial decisions. I often work alone and being able to assess situations using the tools learned during this coursework is instrumental in moving forward toward my Holistic Goal. “

HMI Publishes 2014 Annual Report

HMI - Holistic Management International 2014 Annual Report

We are pleased to announce our 2014 Annual Report is complete and ready to download.  2014 was an exciting year for HMI. In addition to being HMI’s 30th Anniversary, important advances were made including new leadership and a broadening and deepening of our programming in order to reach more people in areas such as California and Colorado. Thanks to the support of our generous donors, HMI was able to expand the number of Open Gate learning days and Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning Workshops, and to engage the Holistic Management community in ways not possible in the past through our Getting Started Online Learning Series.

HMI 2014 Annual Report CoverOnce of the most important aspects of our annual report is the opportunity to thank the many individuals and organizations whose support is the lifeblood of our mission and our community. We could not serve the sustainable ag community without their support. Please join me in thanking all of them.

And if you care about agricultural land health, the environment, local food systems, and supporting farmers and ranchers, please join these folks in making a donation today.


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Healthy Land meets Healthy People at Triple Cross Farm – Open Gate Learning Day Results

Triple Cross Farm, Texas holistic management practitioner

An interested and interesting group of people came through the open gate to hear how CD and Bobby Pounds are healing their soil and growing their business. This HMI Open Gate event was held June 6, 2015 at Triple Cross Farm in Fruitvale, TX.

C Pounds, Holsitic management practitioner in texasThe 50 participants, who collectively influence 10, 571 acres,  learned the mistakes as well as the successes as CD walked them through the kitchen garden, the composting area and the compost tea brewing area. She explained how her involvement in Holistic Management has made a huge difference in how the farm is managed. Decisions are now made toward a clearly defined goal that includes both current and future enterprises.

Through the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers: Women in Texas program, CD met Betsy Ross and other dynamic women doing amazing things with the land. She became a Holistic Management® Certified Educator in Training and spent a second year in the Beginning Women Farmers, mentoring other women, learning to teach Holistic Management and learning all she could from Betsy Ross about healing the land through native plants, compost tea and a general understanding of what the land is saying with the plants it hosts.

Betsy was right there to offer deeper explanations and answer the trickier questions as the Open Gate participants walked or rode through the landscape on a flatbed pulled by Bobby Pounds on his tractor. As usual, Betsy walks with a shovel to monitor the roots and the soil food web, as well as the soil surface and the above-ground life.

triple cross farm, texas, holistic management practitonersTracy Litle taught the group a simple land monitoring method and sent them into the field to practice in small groups. Tracy is also a Holistic Management® Certified Educator in Training, a student of Betsy Ross and operator, with husband Bill, of Faith Hollow Farm near Corpus Christi.

Lunch was a wonderful homemade assortment of salads and chicken tortilla soup with brownies for dessert. After lunch, HMI Program Manager Peggy Cole gave an overview of Holistic Management while the group enjoyed a little air conditioning and a second glass of lemonade. Tracy Litle had a great presentation on soil health and the ways she is using Holistic Management to transform her south Texas thorn forest into thriving grassland for horses, cows, and goats.

Betsy Ross, in her usual passionate style, convinced us that we can use native plants to restore sluggish soils to thriving communities of plants and soil organisms. She explained the crucial relationship between fungal and bacterial residents of the soil food web and how to attract each to your soil.

Triple Cross Farm, Texas holistic management practitionerDietitian Jerri Berry connected those dots to the role of the flora and fauna of trillions of microbes in your own body doing the work of digestion. She explained how to care for these essential creatures without which we’d be quite dead.

CD Pounds described a part of the vision in her holistic goal: her desire for a food forest to nourish and enchant her guests. Each table considered the food forest relative to CD’s land and came up with a little land plan for such an endeavor. All the land plans were left with CD to mull over before she creates the final version.

Thanks to the Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation for their support of this program.

Participant Comments

“All people, Peggy Cole, Betsy Ross, Tracy Litle, Jerri Berry, and CD Pounds did an excellent job in presentation of material. For us it was excellent open gate. My knowledge and understanding was enhanced. I was excited to hear Jerri Berry’s topic on nutrition.”
“Loved the material and info. “
“Of course, I loved it! It served to further solidify my knowledge.”
“Loved meeting a local community of people that are like-minded.”
“I intend to continue contact to improve land through soil management, as well as meeting like-minded ranchers.”
“I intend less mowing of pastures – ‘let it grow’.  “
“Hopefully my husband was inspired so we can write a management plan together.”\


Outcome% Participants
Overall Satisfaction of this event (Rated good to excellent)97%
Confident in your ability to incorporate new management strategies to build resilience in soils plants & animals91%
Confident in your ability to improve land health91%
Increased knowledge of how to observe and assess ecosystem processes85%
Intend to change any management practices/apply ideas you learned as a result of this event?93%
Recommend the event to others97%
Expand your network today by meeting new people or learning about resources available to you97%


Regenerating Landscape Function with Livestock Video


Holistic Management Certified Educator John King has produced a video featuring fellow educator, Graeme Hand discussing how to improve land health through Holistic Grazing Planning. With an engaging style, Graeme, explains key concepts like recovery of plants and determining animal performance. Here are two excerpts from the video.

Grass Recovery


Importance of trial sites to better understand how the tools ou are applying are affecting your farm/ranch

You can order copies of the video at the Succcession website.


HMI at the AGA Conference

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The American Grassfed Association 2015 Conference was held in Denver, Colorado on June 7-9, 2015. As part of the events, Dr. Ann Adams, Executive Director for HMI, presented on Healthy Farm Economics.

Byron Shelton (in center facing camera) and Dan Nosal (to left) led a pasture walk at the Flying B Bar Ranch as part of the AGA 2015 Conference.

Byron Shelton (in center facing camera) and Dan Nosal (to left) led a pasture walk at the Flying B Bar Ranch as part of the AGA 2015 Conference.

After her presentation, Byron Shelton, Senior Program Director from the Savory Institute and Dan Nosal from the NRCS led a pasture walk at the Flying B Bar Ranch to discuss key grazing planning principles and practices. Other presentations included a presentation on Animal Health by Dr. Meg Cattell and Dr. Arden Nelson and a presentation on Soil Health by Molly Haviland. Participants for the day were very engaged with all presentations, asking many thoughtful questions. Thanks to the American Grassfed Association for inviting HMI to present! They will be putting the powerpoint presentations from the conference up on their website at:

HMI Announces New Executive Director

We are very pleased to announce that the HMI Board of Directors has voted to appoint long-time HMI employee, Holistic Management Certified Educator and practitioner, Dr. Ann Adams  to  Executive Director effective immediately.

“The board is excited to have Ann Adams as Executive Director of HMI. Ann has a long association with the organization and is passionate about both teaching and practicing Holistic Management. It’s been a joy to see her leadership skills and respect among our community broaden and deepen over the years.  We feel now  is the right time to appoint a proven leader with experience in creating and measuring the impact of effective non-profit programs. Ann is that leader.”

-Kelly Sidoryk, HMI Board Chair & Director

Ann Adams, Executive Director

Ann Adams, Executive Director

A Holistic Management Certified Educator since 1998, Ann was instrumental in designing and implementing the USDA funded Beginning Women Farmers & Ranchers Program, our Open Gate On-Farm program and our Ag Educators Professional Development Program.  Ann regularly teaches both onsite and distance learning classes and offers consulting in Holistic Management for family farms and ranchers with a particular focus on goal setting facilitation and financial planning. Ann has also written countless articles on Holistic Management, and has helped to develop agriculture-based software for financial planning and grazing planning for farmers and ranchers. Ann is the author of “At Home with Holistic Management” and is the Managing Editor of HMI’s “In PRACTICE” journal. Ann also served as interim CEO in 2013-2014. Ann replaces outgoing Executive Director Bryan Weech.

Please join us in congratulating Ann on her appointment!

All in the Family


Managing Multiple Generations & Enterprises in Family Agriculture


Land conservation, soil health, quality food and family synergy are at the heart of James Ranch. Over the years, The James Ranch crew has developed many different, yet connected, enterprises that serve the families that live and work there, the community and beyond.

Please join us for our Open Gate: James Ranch Day for peer-to-peer action-based learning with short presentations and small group exercises geared for participants to share discoveries and management techniques with guidance from experienced facilitators and producers.

Whether you are an agricultural producer, a consumer interested in nutrient-dense food, conservationist, local agency representative or just interested in ranching, land stewardship, family succession of land or the health of land, animals or humans, this day is for you.

Open Gate: James Ranch Day
Monday, July 20, 2015
James Ranch, Durango, Colorado

Click here for details and information on how to register. 



This event is made possible by a generous contribution from the Thornburg Foundation.

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Sponsorship Opportunities Available

The James Ranch Day offers organizations, agencies and businesses a great opportunity to network with farmers and ranchers interested in sustainable agricultural ideas, products and services. We offer a variety of Sponsorship Opportunities to connect you with our community. Please contact Carrie Stearns, our Communications & Outreach Manager for more information.