Valencia County, NM Consensus Training with Jeff Goebel

Jeff Goebel, Holistic Management Certified Educator

Join Holistic Management Certified Educator Jeff Goebel for his valuable Consensus Training Workshop.Jeff Goebel, Holistic Management Certified Educator

April 27, 28 and 29, 2016
8:00 am – 5:00 pm each day
City of Belen Public Library, Belen, NM

Continental breakfast, lunch and workshop manual is included.
The registration fee is $100 per day or $250 for all three days.
To register, call 505-916-4837.

Click here to watch a video on some of Jeff’s work.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Texas – Class of 2016

A young couple living a primitive lifestyle while working to heal the land.

A couple of military men ready for a new career.

A graduate student in wildlife research.grouptwo (2)

A veterinarian hoping to enhance his goat farm retirement business.

Sisters learning to manage the family farm together.

These are just a few of the people that applied for the 2015-2016 Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Texas program, which began in October 2015, and wrapped up in February 2016.  In February, 29 of the 30 participants graduated from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program.  Each completed at least 70% of their 10-part Whole Farm/Ranch Plan and attended at least 70% of the 10 class days over five months.

Divided into five 2-day sessions, the first session took place at Green Fields Farm, near Temple, Texas.  On Day 1, participants were introduced to the principles and practices of Holistic Management and set to work creating their Whole Farm/Ranch Plan – which included the creation of their Holistic Goal, an inventory of all of their resources, and were introduced to the Holistic Management Decision-Making framework that will guide them toward their Holistic Goal.  On Day 2, participants were introduced to ecosystem health and biomonitoring.

In November, 2015, participants headed to Montesino Ranch, in Wimberley, TX for Session Two, which included Grazing and Decision Making and Time Management.  On Day 1, participants learned the value of grazing planning, including appropriate recovery periods, assessing forage quantity, and how to determine the number of animals a farm/ranch can support.  Day 2 talked about topics such as how to make complex on-farm/ranch decisions, learning to understand seasonal time demands, and how to effectively manage time on a farm or ranch.

Session three took place in December, 2015, at Kerr Wildlife Management Area, in Hunt, Texas.  Both sessions focused on FinanfinancialplanningatKerrwildlifemanagementcial Planning, beginning with topics such as how to develop a balance sheet, how to determine a farm/ranch’s projected revenue, how to identify logjams and adverse factors on the farm/ranch, and how to increase farm/ranch net worth.  Day 2 focused on topics such as how to assess cash flow, how to get the desired profit from a farm or ranch, prioritizing and cutting expenses to guide reinvestment, and how to develop and monitor a financial plan for the farm or ranch.

Session four took place in January, 2016, where participants headed back to Wimberley, Texas to Red Corral Ranch, to focus on Marketing and Business Planning.  Day 1 of the session concentrated on key marketing topics such as how to profitably price products and services, how to develop a farm/ranch business plan, and why it’s important to understand the competition.  Day 2 focused on business planning topics such as how to effectively promote products and services, how to develop a marketing plan, and how to use a Holistic Goal to guide a business strategic plan.

The last 2-day session took place in February, 2016 at Bamberger Ranch, in Johnson City, Texas.  These last sessions focused on Land Planning, and Leadership and Communication.  Land planning topics included how to design strategies to build resilient, diversified farms and ranches, how to incorporate natural resource issues when land planning, and how permaculture fits into Holistic Land Planning.  The second day of the session focused on leadership and communications issues such as how to be aware of communication patterns on farm or ranch, effective communication tools, and conflict resolution skills.

In February this class graduated 29 of the participants, with make-up work available to graduate all of them. HMI heartily congratulates these 29 students. Each completed at least 70% of their 10-part Whole Farm/Ranch Plan and attended at least 70% of the 10 class days over 5 months. Most had perfect attendance. All loved the training.

Here are some of the results:

Intended Behavior Change                                                              2015-2016

 

Implement Time Management Tools or Processes 100%
Using Testing Questions 100%
Change Enterprise Assessment 100%
Determine Profit Up Front and Cap Expenses 100%
Complete or Modify a Financial Plan 100%
Change Record-Keeping   95%
Develop a Whole Farm Goal   91%
Change Management Practices   90%
Involve Decision-Makers in Financial Planning   90%
Enter Financial Data Regularly   83%
Monitor Financial Plan   83%
Complete or Modify Written Land Plan 100%
Conduct Biological Monitoring on Farm 100%
Complete or Modify a Marketing Plan   96%
Complete or Modify Written Grazing Plan   96%
Change Grazing Practices   96%
Change Leadership Practices   95%
Prioritize and Cut Expenses   88%
Complete or Modify a Business Plan   85%
Change Marketing Practices   73%
Change Eco-System Health Practices   73%
Change Business Planning Practices   67%

 

Read what program participants had to say about the training:

“This training has inspired me to lead with a new outlook and goal in mind. I see value in things I have not considered before. The processes I have learned and tools I have received will help me reach succession in all aspects of my life.”

 “It has given me hope and inspiration when thinking about the future. It has given me the power to go out into the world and be the change that I want to see.”

 “The synergy of this group is amazing – I am energized and focused because I know I’m not alone on this quest. I have not only my management team, but a team of “consultants” to help my farm.”

 “This course has jump started/pushed me to move from research phase to “do” phase. Has also really illuminated the “Big Picture” of my whole operation. Invaluable!”

 “This training has provided our management team the ability to better communicate. We also received a set of tools and the training required to use the tools not only on the farm but in our lives.”

 “A lifetime of wisdom packed into an intensive 10 day workshop full of friendships and community.”

 “Highly committed session trainers teaching methods that they deeply believe are effective and valuable it’s a great program.”

 “It is a way to be a better farmer & also be a better person. It feels like a real force for good in the world.”

introandbiomonitoringatgreenfieldsfarm

2016 Getting Started Intro to Holistic Management Results

HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management course began in January 2016 with 32 participants from ten different countries 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. Participants were excited to learn how to improve their ability to observe, understand, and make decisions based on what they can control. Through these new skills participants now have the knowledge and tools to improve their ability to work with nature and to increase productivity. Based on the survey responses, here are the changes that occurred:

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

Knowledge/Behavior and Confidence Increase            % Increase

Your ability to define your management team after session 100%

How to inventory your farms resources after session 100%

Your ability to develop a whole farm goal after session 87%

Your ability to identify needed systems and protocols to create a successful farm after session 100%

Ability to integrate social, economic, and environmental factors into your decisions after session 87%

Your ability to make complex on-farm or ranch decisions after session 85%

Your ability to assess ecosystem health after session 88%

Overall satisfaction with the instructor’s effectiveness 100%

 

Here’s what the participants had to say:

“The course has given me a good basis and opened my eyes to some opportunities I can take advantage of in the future.”

“Larry was very reassuring when we bumped into some common problems.”

“Loved it, wish I had more time to dedicate!”

“Strengthening my ability to confidently make decisions. Additionally, how to incorporate ideas and wishes of the other primary decision makers involved with our farm.”

“Great, I really enjoyed the peer-to-peer interactions. I feel Larry did a great job.”

“There was way more to learn than I expected. I hope to take more classes and dig even deeper in the future.”

“The decision making framework was the most helpful for me.”

“It was a good introductory course to holistic resource management.”

“I learned to evaluate the decisions I make more. I used to have knee jerk reactions to issues and now I try to incorporate my decision process.”

“Good course, It gave me practical tools i can start using today.”

“I felt the course was well organized and provided good content overall.”

“Good. Very accessible both real-time and offline.”

“A good course. I definitely learned some things I can use on my farm.”

“Loved it. Passionate people.”

“The balance between holistic goal and the test questions. Then seeing them in action while working on the farm. Rather than just working there is now a better picture where this farm is headed.”

“Love it!”

Featured Participants

Martin_SchildrothMartin Schildroth

“The Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management course has given me new decision making tools and practices that I can use to achieve my holistic goal as I transition to organic farming.”

 

 

 

Nick LivermontNick Livermont

“I love HMI’s graphic planning tools. Also, I found a great group of people! People from all over the country who are at different stages of development. Now I know more people going through the same process! It’s great to know that I have people to talk to when I am want support orNick Livermont (2) advice. I am already helping a couple friends with their operations, sharing this process and creating a little community around these principles. Thank you so much Julie and HMI!”

 

 

 

9 Female Farmers Changing The Fashion Industry

HMI Sheep Llama Grazing

Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, a hub for ethical fashion and design, recently posted a blog addressing sustainable textile production and introduced us to 9 women farmers who are setting the trends. And while the general public is paying more attention to the way food is grown and the benefits of responsible land management, there is a rising demand for fiber grown with land and community health in mind too. And whether they produce cotton, wool, hemp or natural dyes, these women are some of the top models for sustainable fibersheds. Meet them here.

Ranch Goal Setting Leads to Success

Holistic Management Certified Educator, Don Campbell

Holistic Management Certified Educator, Don Campbell

There was a great article on the Canadian Cattlemen‘s website by Holistic Management Certified Educator Don Campbell. Don shared how to set a holistic goal and why it is important. Don and has family ranch near Meadowlake, Saskatchewan, Canada. Don has successfully transitioned his ranch to his 2 sons and their families. He has also been named one of the top 12 most influential farmers in Canada. To learn more about how to create a holistic goal, take advantage of our free download of the Introduction to Holistic Management Manual that steps you through the process.

Organic Award at HMI Namibian Open Gate

Wayne Knight and Judith Isele

Wayne Knight and Judith Isele

400 participants attended HMI’s first Namibian Open Gate held at Springbokvley Farm which coincided with owner Judith Isele receiving The Young Farmer award from the National Farmers Union (NAU) in Namibia.

Namibian Holistic Management Certified Educator Wiebke Volkmann facilitated the Open Gate along with presentations by Wayne Knight, South African Holistic Management Certified Educator.

Wiebke Volkmann

Wiebke Volkmann

The great diversity of people coming to this Open Day generated not only a sense of astonishment, but also celebration. The pioneers of Holistic Management in Namibia and elder leaders of organized agriculture, well-known politicians and community leaders, field facilitators and farmers from Namibia’s many and diverse communal lands and ethnic origins, staff of support organizations, NGO’s and agribusinesses, freelance consultants, educators and farmers came.

400 participants from diverse backgrounds participated in the event.

400 participants from diverse backgrounds participated in the event.

After Judith Isele welcomed all guests and thanked all helpers, the president of the NAU, Mr Ryno van der Merwe, spoke about the value of precision farming to deal with the many challenges that agriculturists face. Climate change, drought, the weakened Southern African currencies in a global market economy, political priorities and the diminishing carrying capacity of the land due to bush encroachment were mentioned as the main challenges. He went as far as saying that any farmer who will not adapt now to a more pro-active and concerted management can expect to be out of business in five years. Therefore farmers should focus on what they can change, namely management of production, rangeland, labour, financial expenditures and risks. Talking straight, he said farmers should not make poor prices responsible for their poor performance.

Wiebke Volkmann spoke for both the Namibia Centre for Holistic Management and HMI explaining to the audience how the Namibia Centre evolved and some of the key players in that evolution and the willingness for the southern Africa Holistic Management community of educators and practitioners to help those interested in learning more about Holistic Management.

Next, Wayne Knight, as an HMI Director, presented HMI’s award of Outstanding Demonstration Site of Holistic Management to Judith for her excellent work at documenting and sharing her Holistic Management practice.

350 people on a field trip

350 people on a field trip

The next presentation was a presentation by Mr Sakkie Coetzee, the CEO of the NAU and the coordinator of the Young Farmer of the Year selection committee. He shared information about the NAU’s current project (funded by the EU) to roll out awareness about the National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS). This policy was co-drafted by Holistic Management educators Colin Nott and Wiebke Volkmann. Through their interaction with scientists, practical ranchers, government technocrats and rangeland consultants, the principles of Holistic Planned Grazing and key ecological insights of Holistic Management are included in the NRMPS.

2800 Damara sheep

2800 Damara sheep

When Judith Isele spoke, her explanations clearly showed how the various principles and processes of Holistic Management helped her achieve the outstanding results which she could verify through thoroughly processed data and visual appraisal of her livestock and land base. With regards to rangeland management cattle, sheep and horses are seen and treated as gardeners of their own food and Holistic Management planned grazing is used to meet the needs of everyone. Judith did not hold back with her challenges, either – mainly growing more grass than her livestock can cycle back into the ground through dunging, urinating and trampling.

Grazing Comparison with 2800 sheep

Grazing Comparison with 2800 sheep

It is in this context that she described her experiments and scientific research where she compares two treatments to her “normal” holistic planned grazing as control: 4 replications in different areas of the farm received the equivalent of a double stocking rate. For this the three herds of animals moving through all of the 60 camps (paddocks) and stay twice as long as they would if they followed the “normal” planned grazing period. The other experimental treatment observes the effects of increased stock density from subdividing the paddock with temporary electric fencing with one day graze periods only. The stock density is not fixed – depending on the herd composition and the size of the camp. Forage composition, biomass production and plant vigor of all species on the fixed transects are measured twice a year and compared to the baseline taken in 2014.

Judith’s provisional data makes clear that when measuring biomass production not only in terms of samples cut and weighed, but also in terms of what livestock have harvested and converted, the camps with double the stocking rate yielded more than the increased density and control samples.

Many conventional farmers found it difficult to accept the statement: “I work with what I have here on Springbokvley: one species of perennial and one species of annual grass.” Rather than focusing on the species but on the vegetative state of these grasses, Judith aims to further increase digestabilty and nutritional value.

With regards to production management Judith mentioned that she is led by the vision to farm sustainably and efficiently with animals that she likes. The indigenous Nguni cattle and Damara sheep breeds are adapted and require little external inputs. During her second presentation on how she puts principles into practice, she explained that initially the cattle and sheep ran in three herds, each in their own cell of camps to obtain maximum benefit from multi-species grazing. However, cattle and sheep tended to move in separate groups, and in 2013 Judith wanted to see what behavior changes and impact it would make if all the sheep would move in one larger herd and cattle would be split in two groups – each as big as the water supply allows. Judith observed some loss in condition in mainly the sheep and now has started to mix the two species again to have greater flexibility in grazing planning and to make better use of especially sheep forage in all the camps during the early growing season.

With regards to financial management Judith aims to “live now and provide for the future”. This she intends to do by doubling the profit per hectare in the near future. Control of daily expenses, good record keeping and planning are standard for her and spending a bit more to ease daily work load is the special challenge she set herself.

Marketing is led by the principle of natural production off the veldt (rangeland) and selling the adapted livestock when it is slaughter ready, rather than using external inputs or special measures for fattening. She also compares the options of various transport load sizes and takes advantage of a variety of abbartoirs/meat processors.

After Judith’s presentation, Quinton Barnes, who manages a 15,000 hectare (37,500 acre) cattle operation near Ghanzi, Botswana, gave an overview of “What Is Holistic Management.” He sketched out the decision making framework he and his two brothers and their parents use for strategic planning and for day to day management on land in South Africa and Botswana. He also highlighted the holistic financial planning with the marginal reaction/comparing options test when comparing and selecting enterprises. He demonstrated how their decision to sell “long weaners” and to keep any animal until after the growing season and only sell it then, has profited them hugely, even with desperately low meat prices and late payments by the abbatoir.

The field trip to view the farm took place in the afternoon. Roughly 300 people climbed onto cattle trucks and pick-ups with trailers. At two stops Wayne Knight facilitated question and answer sessions: One near cattle where the long-term effects of “normal” planned grazing could be observed – farmers were amazed at the amount of grazing that grew from such little rain – approximately 90 mm (less than 4 inches) this rainy season in comparison to the 182 mm (7.25 inches) long-term average for the same timespan/portion of the rainy season.

The second stop was on a fence line from which three management regimes could be seen: the “normal” planned grazing, the experimental doubled stocking rate and the neighbor’s game farm with set stocking and no livestock at all. At this point a discussion around bush encroachment, the use and effect of fire and the use of livestock to cycle nutrients ensued.

For those who did not want to join the field trip there was a presentation by the founder and chairperson of the Namibia Organic Association and horticultural producer, Manjo Smith. The topic was soil preparation, using compost, effective microorganisms, wormy compost and other organic methods. This presentation linked with Judith Isele’s passion and personal practice of home-grown food, and participants could see the implementation of the principles in Judith’s vegetable garden.

After returning to the homestead, many participants stayed for a delicious organic Nguni steak barbeque and dance – an appropriate end to a day of celebrating what the parent generation of the young farmers had envisaged: An approach to livestock farming that addresses the root cause of land degradation and re-generates the potential of the land to satisfy social and financial needs as well as delivering ecological services that go way beyond the farm gate.

Thanks to Judith Isele and her team of organizers as well as the Namibia Centre for Holistic Management for all their efforts to make this event a success. Thanks also to the Namibia Organic Association, the National Farmers Union, and the Leonardville Farmers’s Association for their support of this event.

Because this event was an opportunity for the southern Africa Holistic Management community to come together, 5 Certified Educators, 3 Community Facilitators, and 7 practitioners met the day after the Open Gate and shared current projects they are working on, as well as key experiences and insights regarding “content” and facilitation/learning methodology and general dissemination of Holistic Management awareness.

Also coinciding with this event was Wayne Knight’s presentation, “Experiences with Treating the Root Causes of Brush Encroachment,” at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) for 85 people. Wayne was asked by the Botanical Society to speak about this topic that dominates rangeland debates in Namibia. The audience was a combination of students, farmers, NGO and research station employees, consultants, scientists and members of the Botanical Institute and the Botanical Society of Namibia.

Wayne’s accessible descriptions of soil biology and how the proportion of fungi and bacteria creates favorable or unfavorable growing conditions for woody and for fibrous rooted plants (grasses and forbs) came across well. He made the link between healthy grasslands and the enormously large herds of plains game roaming across Southern Africa before settlers and livestock farming started to dominate the landscape.

HMI is excited to be collaborating with our southern African educators and practitioners to bring more Holistic Management programming to Namibia.

Photographs credits: Christiane Thiessen and drone photographs by Conrad Roedern of Solar Age Namibia.

 

California Farmers and Ranchers Prepare to Turn More Profits

class-for-web-1

An extremely well attended Whole Farm and Ranch Business Planning series resulted in new connections and a strong start for many as they plan for class-for-web-1a successful year. Thirty-eight  practitioners represented a wide range of enterprises,  from nursery owners to nature preserve employees, from ranchers to grain growers, and all found valuable connections with each other and to their own contexts. The Ridgewood Ranch and Grange Farm School, under the leadership of Ruthie King, created a comfortable space for people to learn and connect so farmers and ranchers can look forward to many more workshops there.

Instructed by Holistic Management® Certified Educator Richard King, the group enjoyed learning the essential aspects of Holistic Management, Holistic Financial Planning and Holistic Marketing and Business
Planning in a series of three two-day workshops in January and February 2016. These three workshops are designed to train producers in the business aspects of managing an agricultural operation. Whole Farm/Ranch Land class-for-web-2Management, a similar series of two-day workshops, but focused on managing the land, is currently underway at the same location.

In order to manage their ‘complex whole’ successfully, participants learned how to describe the whole they manage in their farm/ranch, and then how to plan and achieve their financial needs based on the context under which they want their lives to be—their holistic goal. The step-by-step annual financial planning was presented so that everyone could comfortably develop their financial plan for the coming year, whether the plan was to be used for just their household, or their farm/ranch business, or a new agricultural business they wanted to create, or all three. Rearranging the equation of profit so that you plan the profit rather than plan income and expense helped the class to see that we are valuable parts of our system and must be compensated for all the hard work.class-for-web-3

Certain testing guidelines were emphasized that are essential when decisions or actions involve money. As an example, gross profit analysis was shown as a critical guideline to use when evaluating which enterprise contributes the most to covering the overhead expenses of the business AND still leave enough money to reinvest in the business, pay debt, create funds for replacements, buffer unforeseen events, or improve the quality of life for those involved. Gross profit analysis avoids confusing all the other expenses involved in an operation by focusing only on those directly related in the coming year to the number of units that will be produced for any given enterprise.

Similarly, the importance of how to determine the financial weak link in the chain of production for each enterprise was another key testing guideline that the class learned to assess. Dollars are often spent on farm and ranch enterprises that fail to address the actual weak link in the production chain. Many were surprised to learn that every enterprise always has a weakest link in its chain of production and how easy it can be for managers to overlook or incorrectly assume what the weak link might be.

class-for-web-4When the class worked on exercises together in groups, they realized how much they learned from the experience and creativity of others in the group. At the last class gathering, everyone decided to have occasional follow-up meetings. They chose a leader from the class to make sure the follow-up meeting happens. They want to continue learning, ask questions, and expand their creativity in financial and business planning—holistically!!!

The 38 students in the class represented around 13,000 acres in a variety of enterprises such as Cattle (36%), Vegetables (54%), Fruit (36%), Poultry/Eggs (54%), Swine (21%), Sheep/Lambs (46%), Goats (25%), and a few others.

Here are some of their comments:

Session 1 – The Whole, The Goal, Time Management, Leadership/Communication

“Most useful to me are the Inventory, holistic concept of the farm, time management spreadsheet, and the testing questions.”

“Really the whole management process seems like it will be very useful for creating the life we are wanting to be living!”

“The most useful part for me was how to recognize and organize the decision making process and how to incorporate all team members.”

“Our discussion today on communication has been most helpful so far. For me personally, it’s the biggest challenge on my farm.”

Session 2 – Holistic Financial Planning

“I loved the step-by-step plan for financial success and the support for the online template.”

“The best part was how to evaluate the whole farm profit from understanding the enterprises.”

“I learned to start with determining profit and adjust expenses through gross profit analysis until I hit my desired profit.”

“Most useful to me was the computer spreadsheet and all the concepts to use it.”

Session 3 – Marketing and Business Planning

“I believe that by doing the worksheets on target audience & value proposition, we will learn how we want to market our business”

“I learned how to use marketing effectively in relation to our holistic goal.”

“I thought of new marketing venues for my enterprise.”

“I learned various ways to market & have a better understanding of where target markets exist.”

“I intend to better understand which enterprises are profitable and expanding those.”

Outcomes% of Respondents
Improved ability to write a Holistic Goal 96%
Improved knowledge of how to inventory farm/ranch resources93%
Improved ability to integrate social, economic and environmental factors into decisions 89%
Intends to use Decision Testing on the farm100%
Improved processes to assess how time is spent on the farm100%
Improved ability to determine farm’s rough net worth100%
Improved ability to determine viable profitable enterprises for the farm84%
Improved ability to identify logjams and adverse factors on the farm90%
Gained understanding in how to get the profit needed from the farm/ranch95%
Intends to change management as a result of this course100%
Gained understanding in how a whole farm goal and financial plan helps develop a marketing plan that fits the farm/ranch100%
Learned how to develop a marketing plan100%
Increased ability to implement systems and projects to move toward your whole farm/ranch goal 94%
Gained confidence in determining risk and how to mitigate it94%
Satisfied with the course, the pacing and the instructor’s effectiveness88%

 

Thanks

This event is made possible by generous contributions from:

Sallie Calhoun – The Christiano Family Fund, an advised fund of the Community Foundation for San Benito County

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and our Collaborator, The Grange Farm School

Grange Farm School logo

We also want to acknowledge the following organizations for helping to publicize and promote this training.

Farmers Guild Logo

Mend Cty RCD logo

“A Life Changing Experience”

Erin Bradt - Movin the coop, a daily chore

When a friend forwarded an announcement to Erin about HMI’s Beginning Women Farmer program in 2012, Erin submitted her application, and Erin Bradt - Movin the coop, a daily choresoon found out she was accepted into the program. “I went to the first class with a negative, defeated and frustrated attitude. “I was totally blown away. It was truly a life-changing experience,” says Erin.

She and her husband Ray were in the midst of financial struggles at their Helder~Herdwyck Farm in East Berne, NY. They felt stuck in the old “you need to spend money to make money” cycle. Two years later and having graduated from the course, Erin was empowered to make decisions that would help launch the farm forward. In 2014, she was able to quit her part-time job and dedicate herself full-time to her dream.

Read Erin’s Case Study here.

Dancing with the Hidden Half

Product DetailsThere’s a great article in The Guardian I stumbled across the other day that tells the story of Anne Biklé and David Montgomery and their experiments in their own garden and their discovery of the impact of soil health on human health. This journey led to their writing the book The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health.

The article tracks their interest in trying to figure out how they were able to build soil so fast in their garden and what was happening to shrink all the compost they were applying to such small amounts of nutrients doing such incredible work. Of course, they learned about the incredible microbial world below ground teaming with life doing all the work that allows us as humans to do all the work we do. Of greatest interest to them was the symbiotic relationship between the plant roots and the microbes.

Of course, what was exciting to me was that we have more urban people really beginning to understand the power of that symbiotic relationship and how we as humans can get involved and be a part of that synergy rather than hindering that relationship. Likewise, as more people make the connection between soil health and the agricultural management that influences that health, I believe that more consumers will begin to vote with their dollars for that good management, like supporting Holistic Management practitioners who are improving soil health and growing nutrient-dense food.

When Anne was diagnosed with cervical cancer and realized that there was a microbe, the HPV virus [Human papillomavirus], involved in this disease, it caused her to look at how the microbes in us and what we do to them through our actions, influence our health. As she changed her diet, other illnesses she suffered from went away. Diet became about feeding the right microbes so they could do their jobs. In this way, they ate to feed not just themselves but their microbes.

Ultimately, that is how consumers become co-producers–supporting the agricultural producers who are building soil and growing food that feeds our bodies and our microbes.

Increasing Interest in Holistic Management in Queensland

Brian Wehlburg

We were excited to read this recent article in the North Queensland Register from Australia on “Grazing the Holistic Way.” Holistic Management Certified Educator Brian Wehlburg is featured in this article. Entities like the North Queensland Dry Tropics and the Dalrymple Landcare Committee have helped sponsor and collaborate to provide Holistic Management training in the area. The need to increase soil fertility and capture rainfall as rains come has proven to be a critical point of interest for these farmers as well as the desire to improve the profitability and resilience of their enterprises. If you are looking for someone near you who to answer questions about these practices, check out our Interactive Map.