Opportunity to Make a Difference with our Community

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HMI’s Board of Directors has hired Jim Harlan, president and CEO of MJM Global Search, Inc., to support efforts in filling the post of HMI’s Executive Director. MJM Global’s search will begin immediately with analysis of the position and identification of candidates.

Founded in 1984, HMI’s mission is to educate people to manage land for a sustainable future. We accomplish our mission by motivating, connecting, and training farmers, ranchers, and land stewards through the practice of Holistic Management®, a Whole Farm/Ranch Planning System that improves environmental health, sustains economic viability, and enhances the quality of life for farm and ranch communities.

Persons interested in the position may contact:

Jim Harlan
MJM Global Search, Inc.
P.O. Box 883
Franktown, CO 80116
(303) 660-0766


California Here We Come

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We’ve just opened registration for another Open Gate Learning Series day.  This one is the TomKat Ranch Day in Pescadero, CA.

Tom Kat RanchResilience through Dry Times

May 17, 2014
TomKat Ranch
Pescadero, CA

Whether you are an agricultural producer, a gardener, wildlife manager, local agency representative, or just interested in sustainability, this is a day for you.

What to Expect

At the Open Gate: TomKat Ranch day you’ll…

  • See what  land managers are doing to maintain land health and profitability in a changing environment
  • Discuss practical grazing strategies to improve water infiltration and land production
  • Gain practical ideas on how to increase profit, production and performance for a sustainable ranch operation.
  • Better understand critical monitoring criteria to determine the health of the water cycle
  • Understand how best to maximize soil cover for improved production
  • See how you can improve land health for increased forage production
  • Hear how Holistic Management enables producers to better manage risk, make better decisions and enjoy the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

It’s only $20 per person (advance registration) and includes lunch. Get more information & register now.

Women Farmers & Ranchers in Texas Graduate

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HMI  Project Manager, Peggy Cole just filed this report on our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast & Texas program. 

Session 5: Marketing and Business Planning

Our 5 Holistic Management Certified Educator Trainees reached the peak of their expression at this final session of the 2013-14 class. Each took a large section of the curriculum to teach. Implementing their training in preparing, estimating their time requirement, creating personal examples and supportive presentations, each did a fantastic job at getting the class excited and engaged in their topics.

Kathy Harris explains how marketing decisions were made in her operation, then gives an assignment for individual work

Kathy Harris explains how marketing decisions were made in her operation, then gives an assignment for individual work

As usual, we began the session with an opening circle wherein each said a short statement of how this class has impacted their lives, then we touched hands in silence as we walked around the circle. The impact statements were so profound that the class decided to write them down for HMI to send tothe  USDA, our grantor,  in support of this program.

Holistic Management Certified Educator, Peggy Sechrist introduced the topic of this session and turned over the floor to trainee Kathy Harris for her presentation about how to connect our Marketing and Financial plan to our Holistic Goal.  She used the example of her farm enterprise selling eggs wholesale and how clarity about the Holistic Goal and looking at the financial weak link (marketing) prompted the move to direct selling in a niche market.  Kathy used her laptop as a flip chart, recording the class input to show on the big screen. This was especially effective in getting the class the list of products we produce and how we sell them, since she just included the new document in her presentation and posted it as PDF. Kathy’s exercise for the group was working with parts of the marketing plan template. Her presentation was well done and well received.

Heading out to tour Bamberger Ranch. Steven Fulton tells the history of the ranch

Heading out to tour Bamberger Ranch. Steven Fulton tells the history of the ranch

Tracy was up next with the importance of market research, which also generated quite a bit of discussion. Lauren Bradbury presented on marketing channels. She had great photos and had obviously researched the topic well. The discussion was lively.

After lunch we headed outside for a tour of the ranch with focus on how management works to improve the water cycle.

Lauri Celella taught the segment on how to assess consumer trends and target markets. Again the ideas were flying. Everyone expressed amazement at how much brainpower was in the room.

We had a special graduation dinner that evening and each of the graduating students received a certificate to the applause of her fellow students. As the mood got into the “awwww, we don’t want it to end” realm, the coordinator reminded them the mentoring continues until August and the management clubs are forever. So we broke into management clubs by area – one each for north Texas, south Texas and central Texas. The rest of the evening was spent visiting with their club members to plan the structure and the schedule of farm visits.

Participants plan on creating a management club to continue sharing ideas in the future.

Participants plan on creating a management club to continue sharing ideas in the future.

The next day was business planning. Katherine Napper presented an excellent program, complete with personal examples, on the whys and hows of a business plan, with a focus on how to pull parts of the already completed financial, land and marketing plans into the new business plan. Time was devoted to working on this plan and any other incomplete plans from the program.

Closing circle was especially poignant as the silent touching of hands turned into a hug-fest, wrapping it up until the inevitable reunion events to come.


L to r: Cecelia Shulz, Katherine Napper, Kim Keeter and Lennie Archer express the depth of their connection.

L to r: Cecelia Shulz, Katherine Napper, Kim Keeter and Lennie Archer express the depth of their connection.





Announcing the Holistic Management Rendezvous 2014

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Hold the Date!

Holistic Management Rendezvous 2014

Nov 7-9, 2014

HMI Logo with 30 mark_colorDixon Water Foundation Leo Ranch
Decatur, Texas
Running High Ranch
Bowie, TX

Dixon Water Foundation LogoCo-hosted by HMI and Dixon Water Foundation

Join farmers and ranchers from around the world in Texas!  We’ll get out on the land, learn from each other, swap stories, and share ideas on how best to manage land for a sustainable future. This unique event will include the Josey Pavilion Grand Opening, HMI’s 30th Anniversary Celebration, and two Open Gate Ranch Days. We’ll also enjoy lots of delicious local cuisine and some great music and entertainment. Tent camping will be available and we will be reserving a block of rooms at a motel near the ranch. Holistic Management practitioners, educators, organic ranchers, and anyone interested in sustainable land management and local food will want to attend.


  • Dr. Richard Teague, Texas AgriLife Research Station
  • Tenna Florian, Lake/Flato LEED-certified Architecture
  • Courtney White, Quivira Coalition
  • Dr. Lisa Bellows, North Central Texas College
  • Robby Tuggle, General Manager of the Dixon Ranches
  • Deborah Clark, Birdwell-Clark Ranch
  • Jerry Addison, Running High Ranch
  • Sue & Gary Price, 77 Ranch
  • Guy Glosson, Mesquite Grove Ranch
  • Peggy Sechrist, Holistic Management Certified Educator & Livestock Producer
  • Ann Adams, Interim CEO, HMI
  • Kelly Sidoryk – Canadian Holistic Management Certified Educator & Livestock Producer
  • Wayne Knight – South African Holistic Management Certified Educator & Livestock Producer
  • Ben Bartlett–Holistic Management Certified Educator, DVM, and Livestock Producer
  • Rob Rutherford–Holistic Management Certified Educator & former professor at Cal Poly
  • Holistic Management—Texas style (Producer Panel)

DSC_0296Topics to Include:

  • Organic Production
  • Multi-species Grazing
  • Infrastructure Planning
  • Planned Grazing
  • Improving the Water Cycle
  • Monitoring for Land Health
  • Drought Mitigation
  • Soil Health
  • Monitoring Animal Performance
  • Water as a Crop

We will be opening up registration in July, so hold the dates for November 7-9 and stay tuned for more information.

Whole Farm Planning Training for Ag Educators Results

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Our Whole Farm Planning Training for Ag Educators program began this winter and we are pleased to report on  initial results from the participants. This unique distance learning program is being funded by Western Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (WSARE). We started in  January with 40 agricultural educators and professionals  throughout 12 western states and we just finished the Introduction to Whole Farm Planning course taught by Certified Educators Phil Metzger and Seth Wilner.

Here are the results.

Introduction to Whole Farm Planning Results

Knowledge/Confidence Increase

% Increase

Ability to develop a Whole Farm Goal


Ability to integrate social, economic and environmental factors into your decisions


Ability to identify needed systems and protocols to create a successful farm


Ability to make complex on-farm decisions


Behavior Change

% of Participants

Partial completion of whole farm goal


Participant Satisfaction
Satisfaction with Instructors



Participants also noted some of the following things they liked about the course:

“I have TOTALLY enjoyed this course and am eagerly looking forward to the next one.”
“The information was very useful and the instructors were excellent. Really appreciated their willingness to schedule extras time and comment on resubmitted assignments.”
“Overall I thought it was great and I look forward to continued conversation and interaction.”
“The webinars were excellent. Seth and Phil did a great job of giving the content via stories and personal experience which is always much easier to stay engaged with and retain.”
“This program was just right, well done, and if you wanted to put more time into it nobody is stopping you. The workbook was a wonderful addition and allowed one to easily go deeper. There is a lot of information in the manual, which meshed nicely with Internet-based training.”
“I learned a very well thought out process for assessing a farming operation and making smart decisions that move you in a direction you and all your management team want to go. It’s a very powerful process and it allows me to utilize all my disparate knowledge in a very structured and directed process that makes information easily available and apparent to my clients.”
“It helped me to see that brittle environments are more common in farming than I realized. I’m more aware of the systems and cycles and the concept of “holistic” than previously. It’s interesting to participate in the class with folks from different states/bioregions. I’m on the lookout for more indicators of ecosystem health, than before. It makes me look at client’s farm/production issues with “new eyes”. I attended a meeting on farming in the drought—what measures producers can take to survive this low water year—and I kept thinking “holistic management”!”
“I’m raving to friends and family about what I’m learning and practicing on them to the point of annoyance. The amount of information I’ve received and the “wider view” of the course are priceless.”
“I think the most useful things have been learning about the triple bottom line and incorporating that in to the decision making process on the farm. I will definitely look more at the whole picture when clients come in with questions.”

Featured Participant

dave mDave Muehleisen

Dave is a member of the Faculty at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington where he teaches Sustainable Agriculture. Dave was the Education Director and Farm Manager at 21 Acres Sustainable Living Center in Woodinville, Washington. Prior to that, Dave was the Research and Outreach Coordinator for the Washington State University (WSU) Small Farms Program located in Puyallup, Washington. While at WSU his research focused on alternative nontoxic control of cabbage maggot and carrot rust fly, focusing on the strategic uses of bio-pesticides, cultural and mechanical control of insect pests.

Dave was born in Paterson, New Jersey and moved to South Carolina at the age of 17. He received his BS in Zoology and MS in Botany at Clemson University, and his PhD from Texas A&M University in Entomology with a focus on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Toxicology. Prior to coming to work for the WSU Small Farm Program, Dave was an Associate Professor of Biology at The University of Utah teaching Human Physiology, Entomology and biochemistry. Dave was a National Institute of Mental Health Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, working on Insect Developmental Neuroendocrinology.



HMI Offers Whole Farm Business Planning in Mora, New Mexico

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Lunch time allows time for participants to network.

Lunch time allows time for participants to network.


HMI is excited to announce the beginning of a Whole Farm Business Planning course near Mora, New Mexico. 30 participants involved with the Los de Mora Local Growers Cooperative committed to taking this 5-day series focused on On-Farm Decision Making, Financial Planning, Marketing Planning, and Business Planning. Many of the participants are also involved with the Sangre de Cristo Livestock Grower’s Association. Participants involved in that program are eligible for a gift of livestock if they complete HMI’s Whole Farm Business Planning course. Likewise, New Mexico Farm Service Agency (FSA) also recognizes this program as fulfilling their Borrower Training requirement for those borrowing from FSA.

Newcomers to the area had time to talk with long-time residents

Newcomers to the area had time to talk with long-time residents

Coordinator of the Los de Mora Local Growers Cooperative, Roger Gonzales, was instrumental in coordinating this event. Roger was a participant in an HMI educational program last year and was eager to offer HMI’s training for the producers who are involved in the Cooperative. The Cooperative also provided support for this programming by finding facilities and refreshments for the training sessions. The Cooperative buys from its members and sells to a variety of wholesale markets throughout New Mexico. They are also engaged with the Value-Added Partnership, La Coseche del Norte of Expanola, and Una Vida Buena y Sana Local Growers.

Participants broke into small groups to begin exploring on-farm decisions

Participants broke into small groups to begin exploring on-farm decisions

Certified Educators Ann Adams and Cindy Dvergsten are the instructors for this series that runs through February and March with additional offsite mentoring on draft business plans through the month of April. All participants completing draft plans will receive a certificate of completion at a graduation ceremony in May.

Evaluation of this session showed that participants experienced a significant knowledge increase in how to develop a whole farm goal and how to integrate social, economic and environmental factors into decision making.

Our thanks to The Thornburg Foundation, Farm Credit, and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union for their support of this series, along with Los Alamos Connect for sponsoring the lunch for the On Farm Goal workshop.

Introduction to Whole Farm Planning Results

Knowledge/Confidence Increase % Increase
Ability to develop a Whole Farm Goal 115%
Ability to integrate social, economic and environmental factors into your decisions 104%
Ability to identify needed systems and protocols to create a successful farm 96%
Ability to make complex on-farm decisions 90%
Are you more confident in your ability to make complex decisions on your farm as a result of today’s class? 88%
Intended Behavior Change % of Participants
Do you intend to complete or modify a written whole farm plan as a result of this course? 88%
Do you intend to use the testing questions in your farm decision making? 88%
Do you intend to change management practices as a result of this course? 81%
Participant Satisfaction  
Satisfaction with Session 89%
Satisfaction with Instructor 95%

Holistic Management of Wildlife

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The December 2013 issue of Texas Wildlife has an article you’ll want to check out.  It’s written by Robert and Janelle Fears and features the wonderful work the Dixon Water Foundation is doing in holistically managing their ranches in Texas. Here is an excerpt.

“The continuous vegetative cover, resulting from holistic grazing management, builds organic matter, holds water and prevents erosion,” states Josey. “Rainwater soaks into our soils and does not run off the property. We want to keep all the water that falls on our properties, and we don’t want the neighbor’s rainwater. “The reason is that run-off causes erosion, and we don’t want to lose our soil. We also don’t want our neighbors losing theirs.”

“We don’t see an immediate change in the water levels of our ponds after a heavy rain, due to soil absorption,” Josey continues. “A few days following a rain, the ponds will begin recharging from the water table.”

Read the entire article.

Bear Creek Ranch, Texas

We’re making a difference

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Here at HMI we are all very dedicated to educating farmers and ranchers on Holistic Management. It’s why we exist. As part of that dedication we carefully monitor and report on the results of our training programs. We’ve recently published two reports you should check out.  Our Open Gate 2013 Series Report documents Open Gate: Creekside Meadows Farm Day Group Photothe impact we made at these interactive peer-to-peer farm/ranch days.  We’ve also compiled a 2013 Report for our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast & Texas program. As we report on these successes, we would be remiss, if we did not thank all the foundations, donors, sponsors, and grant makers that support the work we do.  We hope that you will consider joining our supporters by making a donation today.

Read more about the Impact we make.

Open Gate: Blackwood Bounty Farm Day

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HMI Program Manager Peggy Cole filed this report….

Clouds, wind and a damp chill defined the weather outside the warm buildings of Blackwood Educational Land Institute as we began the Open Gate: Blackwood Bounty Farm Day on  January 28, 2014. This was one of the pre-conference workshops at the TOFGA (Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) Conference.

Blackwood Bounty Open Gate GroupOpening remarks by HMI; Blackwood’s president, Cath Conlon; Blackwood Bounty’s farmer, Hans Hansen; and Holistic Management Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist took place in the beautiful straw bale house created by Cath Conlon with the help of her many students. Blackwood began as a vision for the children of the future who must not be shut away from the land, its inspiration and its many lessons. The 23-acre Hempstead, TX farm hosts nature camps and works with schools toward this mission while growing organic foods to keep everyone healthy and happy.

Hans led the tour around the farm as he described the original challenges with getting the soil healthy and the ongoing challenges of losing those hard-won nutrients to heavy rains and runoff events. He shared some of his out-of-the-box solutions. His now-favorite playground is the high tunnel. There are 2 of them on the farm and Hans obviously delights in experimenting with how and what to best grow inside.

Ready for a warmer session, the 42 participants settled in the enclosed pavilion for a lecture by Peggy Sechrist on drought mitigation. In her opening remarks, Peggy had explained holism and the overall philosophy of Holistic Management. She now pointed out that drought is a normal occurrence in Texas and that only by planning for and being adaptable during a drought can Texas farmers and ranchers remain sustainable.

Blackwood Bounty Open Gate Indoor GroupData from Dr. Christine Jones shows us that a 1% increase in soil organic matter can increase the water holding capacity in the soil by nearly 18,000 gallons per acre. If all farmers and ranchers in Texas could add just 1% of organic matter to their soils, think what a huge reservoir of water that would create! How to add organic matter? Peggy went through a number of methods from mulching gardens to managing grazing for deep-rooted perennials and lots of plant litter—all headed toward the biodiversity above and below the soil which results from and contributes to a healthy soil food web.

Peggy explained how to monitor the land and keep records to show trends toward or away from the desired state so that changes can be made before a crisis occurs. We divided into groups of about 7 and went out on the land to monitor. Each group was given a dart to toss over a shoulder for a random spot to monitor. The basic monitoring form had questions to stimulate exploration of the soil surface, animal sign, plant litter, perennial grasses and their condition and age, other plants and interesting comments.

We returned to the pavilion where the tables were being set for a wonderful lunch of sweet potato and greens enchiladas and black bean salad with delicious cookies for dessert. Most everything was grown Blackwood or the immediate area.

Open Gate: Blackwood Bounty Farm DayAfter lunch, Hans took us into the high tunnels to experience a rather more humid but warm as San Diego climate. The plants were huge and happy inside. The group discussed the cultural eating habits in the U.S. making it hard to have anything but annuals in the food plots. How can we shift this to the human eating of perennial plants?

The afternoon session was about the management of grazing animals as a tool to improve soil health and the water cycle. Peggy cited the research of Dr. Richard Teague, research scientist at Texas A&M on guidelines for how much forage to take before recovery and how long recovery periods might average in the various rainfall belts.

The participants then filled out their evaluations for the day and broke into small groups for the final exercise. They chose to separate based on vegetable growers at one table and livestock producers at the other. The two groups were about equal in numbers and the discussions were lively. They chose to continue discussing in their groups after the end of the day’s program and HMI promised to send the contact info for all to all.

Evaluations reveal excellent ratings with comments that  they learned a lot and are hungry for more.

Soil/land evaluation was good. Loved the farm.

Very nice interactions! Very good.


Nice, friendly people – both teachers and students, Ideas and theories welcomed, not ridiculed.

Sessions and activities were well timed and very enjoyable and informative. Very interactive.

Learned much more than I expected.

Change in Knowledge/Confidence


Maximize Plant Recovery


Ability to Create a Drought Plan


Ability to Determine Plant Recovery


Ability to Monitor Ecosystem Health


Determine De-Stocking/Stocking Strategies during Drought

General Feedback


Intend to Change Management Practices


Recommend this event to others


Intend to complete a biological monitoring on their land


Intend to create a written grazing plan



This farm day is partially funded by a grant from the Dixon Water Foundation.

Book Review of Healthy Land, Happy Families and Profitable Businesses

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Cover with Sky added 1200x864Healthy Land, Happy Families, and Profitable Businesses: Essays to Improve Your Land, Your Life and Your Bottom Line
By David Pratt

The focus of Healthy Land, Happy Families, and Profitable Businesses can be distilled down to the one sentence that is on the back jacket cover: “It doesn’t matter if you hit the bull’s eye if you’re aiming at the wrong target!” That sentiment may sound familiar to holistic managers, which isn’t surprising given that Dave Pratt runs Ranching for Profit, the school started by Stan Parson, one-time business partner of Allan Savory, founder of Holistic Management. There are many principle and curriculum similarities between Ranching for Profit and Holistic Management which is why many holistic managers have also taken a Ranching for Profit course as well. So it was with great interest that I read Dave’s new book to see what he would focus on.

This book is actually a compilation of Dave’s ProfitTips which is a newsletter he sends out to Ranching for Profit alumni. These 2-4 page essays are great because they articulate the key principle or concept succinctly. This book is chockfull of great information for the beginning or experienced rancher.

As noted in the title, the book touches on land, families, and finances. The first section on “Healthy Land” is all about grazing planning, animal performance, considerations of production systems (such as ranching with nature, and why you need to really keep healthy land in the forefront of your operation.

The next section is about “Happy Families.” In this section he focuses a lot on how the business can influence family life and how to work effectively with employees. Some of the later essays are particularly helpful regarding succession planning and helping the older generation really understand what they must do to begin transferring a healthy business.

The last section, “Profitable Businesses,” focuses on the critical issues of how to generate profit from a ranching business. Dave explores a variety of issues including diversification and opportunities, and a lot about how to maximize the resources you already have so you can get more profit per unit on the current resource base rather than expanding that resource base and losing margin. There’s even a great glossary at the end of the book that helps define any terms that aren’t familiar to the reader.

If you already know these principles, this is a great review. If you are trying to get these key concepts across to an intern or employee, this is a quick and easy way to start the conversation so you can delve deeper into how to more effectively graze your animals, define job responsibilities and outcomes, plan for profit, or any number of key management conversations that need to happen on pretty much any ranch. If you are looking for a book that will help you work on your business, commit to knowing your production finances, work on your relationships, and structure your operation effectively, Healthy Land, Happy Families, and Profitable Businesses will get you started on the basics and inspired to create healthy land, happy families, and profitable businesses.

To order this book, go to: www.ranchingforprofit.com