2014 Texas Beginning Women Farmer Program Results

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HMI’s 2014 Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the NE & Texas program funded by the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program, has been going full steam through the winter and spring with some states beginning to wrap up. The Texas program coordinated by HMI’s Program Manager, Peggy Cole, completed all 10 sessions by the end of February. Lead instructor was Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist and mentors for the program were Tracy Litle, Lauri Celella, Kathy Harris, Pam Mitchell, Lauren Bradbury, and Katherine Napper. We’ve been busy entering the data and crunching the numbers. For the full report, go to the HMI blog to read more. Here’s what we’ve learned from our 32 Texas participants who graduated:


  • 22 are currently farming
  • The average years of farming was  4 years (range: 1 – 10 years)
  • The average acres under production was 253 acres under production (range: 0.5 – 1900 acres)
  • The average age was 52 years old (range: 28 to 67 years old)
  • The race the participants reported was: 21 Anglo, 2 Hispanic, and 1 Native American, and 2 other
  • The types of farm operations were as follows:

o   Cattle/Cow/Calf (13), Vegetable/Fruit/Produce (13), Poultry (4), Dairy (2), Lamb (6), Goat (1), Pecans (1), Hay (1), Sorghum (1), Aquaponic (1), Agritourism (2).

  • The total customers of all participants: Retail – Average 52 (total 623); Wholesale – Average  2 (total 19)
  • Increased net income as a result of this training 71%
  • Intend to keep farming 100%
  • Overall satisfaction with program 100%

If you a women farmer or rancher in Texas and are interested in participating in our 2014/2015 season, we are accepting applications until July 15, 2014.  Learn More



% of Participants 

Forged Relationships That Positively Impacted You


Created a Land Plan


Engaged in Biological Monitoring


Created a Holistic Goal/Whole Farm Plan


Created a Holistic Financial Plan


Developed a Business Plan Outline


Developed a Marketing Plan


Created a Grazing Plan



Post-Program Outcome Changes % of Participants ExperiencingImprovement
Satisfaction with Ability to Determine Needed Profit


Satisfaction with Time Management


Satisfaction with Quality of Life


Satisfaction with Communication


Satisfaction with Ability to Make Complex Decisions




Post Session ImpactsParticipants Experienced the Following % of Participants
Human Resources
Better Ability to Determine Resources Available to You


Improved Communications on the Farm


Improved Decision Making


More Efficient Use of Resources


New Policies and Systems Implemented


Better Relationships


Increased Efficiency of Farm Chores as a Result of Land Planning


Financial Resources/Business Management  
New or Improved Record Keeping Systems


Enhanced Understanding of Your Farm Finances


Improved ability to determine most effective enterprises


Improved Ability to Prioritize Expenses


Improved Strategies for More Effective Reinvestment in the Business


Improved ability to discern most appropriate market channels


Improved ability to effectively market products


Improved Business Systems


Greater efficiencies realized


Improved ability to receive desired price for your products/services


Reduced Farm Expenses


Increased Farm Profits


Increased Net Worth


Natural Resources  
Improved Understanding of Your Farm’s Ecosystem


Improved Environmental Conditions on Your Farm


Improved Ability to Determine Appropriate Management to Address an Environmental Issue


Achievement of Environmental Goals in Your Land Plan


Improved Environmental Conditions as a Result of Land Planning


Improved Ability to Manage Animals


Desired Change in Species Composition


Less Stress for Animals


Enhanced Land Production as a Result of Land Planning


Reduction of Overgrazed Plants


Increased Forage Production


Less Stress for Farmers


Reduction in Feed Costs


Improved Herd Health


Longer Grazing Seasons



Soil Carbon Cowboys

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I’ve just finished watching a 12 minute video  by Peter Byck. “Soil Carbon Cowboys” features Holistic Management practitioners Neil Dennis, Gabe Brown and Allen Williams.  This is one of the best videos I’ve seen that really shows what Holistic Management is all about, how it’s practiced and the benefits to the both land and  ranchers. I strongly encourage newbies to Holistic Management to take a look.

SOIL CARBON COWBOYS from Peter Byck on Vimeo.
You can read more about Neil and Gabe in our case studies section.

Whole Farm/Ranch Land Planning Course Results

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HMI completed our second online course as part of our Whole Farm Planning Program for Agricultural Educators funded by The Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) Professional Development Program. The course began in March 2014 with 29 participants from 11 RanneyRanchdifferent states. This course provides key land planning principles and practices to help participants facilitate conversations with producers about land planning decisions they are considering. This simple approach to land planning helps agricultural educators and producers explore key infrastructure/land improvement projects in the context of a whole farm/ranch goal. Participants developed management consideration lists, land plan options and explored tool options and the return on investment of the different land planning options.

After surveying the participants, a high number of folks experienced knowledge and behavior changes as noted below.

HMI thanks WSARE for their funding of this program.

Holistic Land Planning Evaluation Results

Knowledge/Confidence Increase % Increase
How to prioritize land/infrastructure development/investments 82%
How to assess management considerations to guide your land planning 67%
Design strategies that can build resilient, diversified farms 65%
How to incorporate social/legal/contractual considerations into your land planning 63%
Behavior Change:        % of Participants
Ability to prioritize land or infrastructure improvements on your farm 88%
Ability to incorporate farm natural resources issues into your land planning 88%
Do you intend to complete or modify a written land plan as a result of today’s session? 88%
Ability to incorporate social/legal considerations into your land planning 75%
Do you intend to change any management practices as a result of this session? 75%
Overall Satisfaction of the course 100%



“Although I’ve worked with many of the techniques and concepts covered in the class, I found it very useful to review the concepts and hear how others approach the planning (especially land planning) process. I had several aha moments. I particularly liked learning more about using the testing questions in conjunction with the land planning to determine the best next step.”

“It was valuable to learn ROI-the ability to calculate it and practice working with it on the example worksheets. Prioritization and implementation strategies to use once the land plan is created like finding the weakest link and identifying priority investments.”

“I’m able to learn how to read the land better in terms of utilization of resources and what to consider in the overall design plan of the farm or property.”

“I learned that you should aim for creative solutions, use input from those whom are not familiar with your land-that you should try and not borrow money, but reinvest the profit you make from your operation/enterprise.”

“I really appreciated the hands on practice sheets such as the ROI fencing and developing a property. It was great to go back to the basics and focus on simple parts of the larger land planning decisions. I also really enjoyed how HMI included prioritization and implementation into the Land Planning Curriculum.”

“I hope to encourage the landowners I work with to incorporate these ideas. I already find myself incorporating them into our conversations and planning sessions.”

“I’ve changed my entire plan from a more conventional, straight rows, approach to a more permaculture integrated into my overall design.”

Featured Participant

Patty Madigan

“…the content of the Whole Farm Planning course is comprehensive and widely applicable to farm and ranch, even small ag settings. I never thought I’d enjoy “school” again, but it has opened up a whole realm of possibilities for working with our producers to improve and sustain working landscapes.”

Patty MadiganFor thirteen years Patty has been a watershed coordinator and then a conservation programs manager for the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (RCD). She serves as a technical peer reviewer for the North Coast Resource Partnership, as well as participant in the Wood for Salmon Workgroup. Patty’s at the RCD includes developing landowner relationships and restoration projects—as well as informing public policy and streamlining the permit process for landscape-level conservation efforts. She is involved in planning for the RCD’s ownership and management of the largest mitigation project ever conducted in northern California by the California Department of Transportation. Two years ago Patty attended a Holistic Management course and was intrigued with the possibilities of applying the principles to a wider audience, and its potential for building stronger families, communities, and ecosystems.

Results from our Open Gate: TomKat Ranch Day in California

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It was a cool and cloudy spring day at TomKat Ranch where participants gathered for coffee and conversation as they prepared for an interactive day of learning. After an introduction and orientation to TomKat Ranch, Holistic Management and our organization, the 50+ participants divided themselves into 3 groups based on interest. Holistic TomKat Ranch Day Group FieldManagement Certified Educator Richard King led his bunch in a discussion on building profit, productivity and biodiversity with livestock. Holistic Management Certified Educator Rob Rutherford led a discussion about the costs and effectiveness of Holistic Management, and Holistic Management  Certified Educator Kelly Mulville’s group discussed the role of livestock in farming and research showing the increase in productivity in vineyards when livestock are added. Each of these discussion groups took the time to let all participants introduce themselves and their interests.

After some networking time, the groups formed to either  experience stockmanship with Kent Reeves, hear the latest scientific research on carbon sequestration with John Wick, or to practice forage assessment with TomKat’s grazier Mike Giannini and Richard King. The folks had a chance to ask questions and apply techniques discussed.

Tomkat Ranch - Holistic Managment practitionersThis was a particularly savvy crowd with a diversity of interests and experiences expressed during discussion. Lunch was delicious and varied with pulled pork sandwiches and lots of fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables. After lunch, Jeremiah Stent and Carlie Henneman led a walking tour of the valley section of the ranch, which is set in a lovely bowl surrounded by steeper uplands. We discussed grazing strategies for both the cattle and the horses, looked at the differences in pastures grazed at higher stock densities for shorter time vs. lower stock density (more space to graze) for longer time. Patch grazing was beginning to be apparent in the larger pasture. We climbed into one of the higher meadows to look at the biodiversity of grasses and listen to Carlie talk about the increasing diversity in her bird census.

Back at headquarters, Carlie and Richard talked about the importance of monitoring and demonstrated a simple way to look at the land and record the results for future comparison. Questions and comments took us through the experiential section of the monitoring talk and into the wrap-up time. Evaluations were completed and rewarded by cowboy poetry from Kent Reeves. Tired bodies and full minds ended the day with more networking, relaxing or heading straight home to apply the lessons learned.

TomKat Ranch Dayhorse-group-crop-small

After surveying the participants who attended the TomKat Ranch Day Open Gate, a high number of participants experienced knowledge and behavior changes and had this to say…

“Very helpful and easily to manage as long as you apply it.”

“Fun, intimate, good vibes, generally people excited about doing good for the land.”

“Very impressed, both with what’s being done at the ranch here & with the variety of people engaged in related pursuits.”


“Loved the place and the people-good management strategies.”

“Excellent networking and info sharing, many useful insights”

“Fantastic, inspiring, intellectually stimulating”


Participant Evaluation Results

Knowledge/Confidence Increase % Increase
Critical monitoring criteria to build biological wealth 82%
How to assess forage quantity and quality 76%
How to plan grazing based on plant recovery needs 73%
Grazing strategies to build regenerative and resilient soil 68%
Behavior Change % of Participants
Confidence in ability to analyze ecosystem health 68%
Confidence in ability to improve land health 68%
Confidence in ability to determine plant recovery 64%
Intend to complete a biological monitoring on their land as a result of today’s event 80%
Intend to change any management practices/apply ideas they learned in this event 90%
Expanded network today by meeting new people or learning about resources available 100%
Would recommend this event to others 100%
Overall Satisfaction of the event 100%
Facilitator’s Effectiveness 100%
Presenters’ Effectiveness 100%

“Harvesting Free Energy to Produce More Meat & Milk” with Ian Mitchell-Innes

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We are excited to announce that internationally-recognized grazing expert, Ian Mitchell-Innes, will be at the University of Vermont Extension for a full-day pasture management workshop on June 16th. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend! Ian brings a wealth of knowledge from being a Holistic Management educator and from practicing Holistic Management for 20 years on his ranch in South Africa and teaches these concepts worldwide. The workshop will include both classroom and in-field sessions.

9:30 am – 12:45 pm: The day will start at the Sudbury Community Hall for a classroom session with Ian on energy, animal performance, and the bottom line. Then lunch will be served before heading to the field.

12:45 pm- 3:30 pm: The participants will head up the road to Mountain Meadows Farm for a pasture walk with Ian and farm manager, Brian Kemp. Mountain Meadows, owned by Dr. Amiel Cooper, is an organic beef farm raising 350 cow-calf pairs on approximately 900 acres of pasture land. Participants will learn about soil biology, forage quality, animal body condition, and animal behavior.

For more information visit: http://www.uvm.edu/extension/agriculture/news-events/pdfs/2014-grazing-workshop.pdf

Register online by going to:



Field Day on June 20th: Grazing and Nutrition for 100% Grass-Fed Dairy Cows Featuring Ian Mitchell-Innes, Forrest Stricker, Mark Bader & Ned MacArthur

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Demand is growing for 100% grassfed milk.  This is driving higher pay prices for no-grain milk, with premiums of up to $5/cwt over organic being offered in some states. Those wanting to know more about grain-free milk production and marketing opportunities won’t want to miss this upcoming field day at Spring Creek Farms to walk the pastures and learn more about animal performance, grass conditions and how to meet energy needs with minimal supplementation.

Presented by Lancaster County Graziers & Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO), and hosted by Stricker’s Spring Creek Farms, 3880 North Church Street, Wernersville PA 19565.


9:00 - Welcome & Introductions

9:30 - Pasture Walk with Ian Mitchell-Innes

Observing cows grazing, pasture condition ahead & behind the cows, cow condition and behavior

12:00 - Lunch

Intro to PCO’s new 100% Grass-Fed Certification program

12:45 - 100% Grass-Fed Milk Markets in the Northeast

Discussion with milk company representatives

1:15 - Mark Bader

Energy supplements throughout the year

2:00 - Q & A with Ian & Mark

3:00 - Adjourn


Ian Mitchell-Innes is a Holistic Management educator and practitioner. He owns a large ranch in South Africa where he has quadrupled the amount of cattle he raises on the same land by grazing management.  He will be in the pastures with Stricker’s dairy herd discussing how to optimize animal performance, pasture growth and soil biology without supplementing the cows with grain.


Mark Bader owns Free Choice Enterprises in Lancaster, Wisconsin.  He manufactures vitamin, mineral and energy supplements for dairy and beef cattle.  Mark offers complimentary nutritionist services to his customers.  He helps grazing farms balance the hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen as the seasons and grasses change throughout the year.  Ian Mitchell-Innes is a customer of Mark Bader’s mineral and energy supplement program.


Ned MacArthur owns Natural Dairy Products.  This organic milk company processes the milk from 23 grass-based dairy farms in Southeastern PA.  Ned managed his own herd of dairy cows until he started the company in 1994.


Forrest Stricker has been grazing his dairy cows since 1993.  PCO certified Spring Creek Farms as organic in 1999.  Forrest adopted Ian’s taller grazing techniques after hearing him speak in May 2011.  No grain has been fed to calves or cows since April 2011.  The 135 cow dairy herd is supplemented with Mark Bader’s Corner Post, molasses and soybean oil at varying amounts throughout the year depending on the grass maturity stage.


Early Bird Discount:

$95 first person, $50 additional persons from same farm

After June 2nd

$150 first person, $50 additional persons from same farm

To apply the discount for multiple attendees from the same farm, all attendees must be registered together as a group.  Walk-ins are welcome!

For more Information and to register call 814-422-0251 or visit:  www.paorganic.org

Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning Results

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HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning course began in March 2014 with 37 participants from all around the world. This course focused on key Holistic Management planning concepts and principles to help participants manage their farm/ranch for the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial sustainability) and more effectively manage resources. The participants were excited to improve their ability to observe, understand, and make decisions, based on what they can control. Through these new skills the participants are eager to improve their ability to work with nature and to increase their productivity.

After surveying the participants who completed the Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning course, a high number of participants experienced knowledge and behavior changes with:


Getting Started Introduction to Whole Farm Planning Evaluation Results
Knowledge/Behavior and Confidence Increase % Increase
Ability to develop a whole farm goal 100%
Ability to define a management team 93%
Understand how to inventory farm resources 93%
Ability to make complex on-farm decisions 93%
Ability to assess ecosystem health 93%
Ability to identify needed systems and protocols to create a successful farm 87%
Ability to integrate social, economic and environmental factors into decisions 80%
Ability to understand ecosystem health 80%
% of Participants
Overall Satisfaction of the course 93%


“I really enjoyed the module on observing the ecosystem and learning about the different ways to have an impact on the environment.”

“I learned how to integrate different factors into my overall decision making process.”

“Stop and think, run through the list, don’t just go with the emotional decisions.”

“At this point for me, the process of looking at holistic goals — vision statements – and all were really helpful.”

“I learned so much! I think the process itself was incredibly valuable-starting from creating the goal and vision to and through the processes for evaluating what is there, what should be there-and figuring out how to get ‘there.’”

“I enjoyed learning about how to make a holistic goal as well as learning more about the biological processes and how to identify a healthy environment based on my specific area on the brittleness scale.”

“Goal setting was a real eye-opener for me. My parents were always content to do the same things every year with no real plan for anything more. Learning about the testing questions, especially in the context of working toward my goals, will be very useful. “


Featured Participant

 Johnnie Balfour 1-JB14

“I found the course to be a great introduction to Holistic Management.  I have realized that holistic planned grazing is not as big a step as I had  first feared and should not cost anything other than brain power to  implement.”

Holistic Management® Whole Farm/Ranch Planning and Holistic Planned Grazing Workshop with Owen Hablutzel

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If you are in the Summertown, TN area don’t miss this opportunity for a fun-filled three-day workshop where you will learn optimal, highly-effective and proven ways to plan for and achieve the full power of the Holistic Management approach for your land, your animals, your profits and your quality of life. The workshop will include classroom, as well as, outdoor exercises and pasture walks for a full learning experience.

At the Holistic Management® Whole Farm/Ranch Planning and Holistic Planned Grazing workshop, you’ll learn…

  • How to use the power of the Holistic Management approach to create and enact an optimal customized vision for your operation
  • How to reliably make more effective decisions that will move you towards your goals more rapidly
  • Understanding ecosystem processes and how you can leverage their free benefits
  • Why managing wholes is the future of agriculture
  • How to get your livestock to the right place at the right time for the right reasons and with the right behavior
  • Maximizing your stocking rate
  • Planning your grazing to increase your profits from meat, milk, or fiber
  • How to utilize the tools of grazing and animal impact to create the healthy future landscape you want
  • Why stock density, and herd effect are the grazier’s most powerful land management tool for results
  • Maximize production (and profitability) from both land and animals
  • Grazing planning for both the growing season and the non-growing season
  • Keeping animal performance high through planned grazing
  • How to plan for drought and minimize capital losses
  • Integrate all activities with your grazing plan to avoid stress, surprises and to save money
  • Matching your forage and livestock resources
  • Evaluating pasture and range condition through Biological Monitoring
  • Getting the most out of your pastures
  • How to evaluate forage supply and quality
  • Understanding plant physiology, recovery, and interactions with animals


Owen HablutzelInstructor:

Owen Hablutzel is a Keyline Design® consultant and Holistic Management® Certified Educator working in the U.S. and internationally.  Trained under the world’s leading Keyline consultant, Darren Doherty (heenandoherty.com), Owen has been successfully working to transform soils and fertility, and to increase whole landscape hydration through regenerative techniques since 2007.  By working together with farms, ranches, and land managing organizations his integrated and dynamic approach is helping to create more fertile landscapes, robust farm economies, and resilient watersheds.

This three-day workshop costs $425 for the Local Farmer Special – includes lunch only and no overnight accommodations or $525 for the Regular Tuition – includes three meals/day and camping. Ask about group discounts for 4 or more people.

For more information visit http://www.spiralridgepermaculture.com/events/introduction-to-holistic-management-whole-farmranch-planning-and-holistic-planned-grazing/ & register today!


More Workshop Results

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Last Fall, we held a series of Mitigating Drought with Holistic Management Workshops in Texas. The events were well attended and we are pleased to Drought Mitigation with Holistic Managment workshop groupshare our Results Report with our community.  Here at HMI, we are all about working directly with ranchers, farmers, and other ag professionals to help them learn the skills they need to manage their land sustainably. — even in times of drought. Here are just a few of the comments we heard from participants…

“I loved learning about enriching and managing the soil.”
“I have a better understanding of how to use livestock to improve biological cycle.”
“I learned how to develop an accurate forecast/plan for a grazing strategy. “
“The benefit of group brainstorming to gain solutions to problems and the benefit of what HMI has to offer were the most useful.
“I learned simple, economical ways to tackle the weaklink, such as water availability, the relationship between land planning & grazing, holistic goals, being flexible in your plans.”

Be sure to read the entire Mitigating Drought with Holistic Management Workshop Report, Texas 2013 report.

You can find additional detail and photos from the workshops in these blogs.

#1 Recap Drought Mitigation Workshop

#2 Recap Drought Mitigation Workshop

#3 Group learns to plan infrastructure with drought in mind

HMI sends a big THANK YOU to Bear Creek Ranch and the Dixon Water Foundation for making this series extremely successful!


HMI helps ag producers with business skills

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Get Down to Business with Holistic Management

“The one-on-one help was great!”
“I learned key pricing guidelines and the relationship to competition.”
“I better understand customers and competition.”
“I learned how to reach a breakeven point.”

Those are just a few of the comments made by participants of our NEW Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning program. We piloted the program this year in Mora, New Mexico and are pleased to roll it out later this year in California.

Mora HOlistic Management  Business Planning Class
At HMI we know that to create a sustainable, healthy agricultural enterprise, you need to run it like a business. So, we’ve created our Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning course to give both new and experienced farmers and ranchers the knowledge and tools they need to do just that.

TomKat Ranch, Pescadero, CA

  • September 20, 2014 – Introduction to Holistic Management Whole/Farm Ranch Planning
  • October 4-5, 2014 – Holistic Financial Planning
  • October 18-19, 2014 – Holistic Marketing and Business Planning

9:00 – 5:00 each day

The cost is only $100 per person  for the full course and scholarships are available. Find out More. & Register Now