HMI Welcomes Newest Certified Educator

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lisabellows

Lisa Bellows recently completed HMI’s Certified Educator Training Program. Lisa began the program in the spring of 2012, taking Holistic Management courses in Goal Setting, Financial Planning, Grazing Planning, Land Planning, and Biological Monitoring from Holistic Management Certified Educator, Kirk Gadzia, as part of the work to complete HMI’s rigorous Holistic Management Certified Educator Training Program. This program requires that each trainee complete various aspects of the Holistic Management curriculum including financial plans, grazing plans, land plans, biological monitoring, and goal setting and decision analysis. They also have to create a learning portfolio of their experience teaching these modules and the evaluations they received from their clients.

Lisa is a science professor at North Central Texas College (NCTC) in Gainesville, Texas and serves as the director of the Thomsen Foundation in Montague County. The Foundation is the recipient of the Texas Parks and Wildlife 2013 Lone Star Land Steward Award. Lisa is also involved in the PACE Project, a partnership among NCTC, The Noble Foundation, Texas Agrilife Extension and the Gainesville Independent School District using school property to provide a learning environment focusing on ecologically and financially sustainable initiatives to educate others on how to improve land health, social and economic impact. She is also the Director of the recently endowed Josey Institute for Agroecology at NCTC.

Congratulations to Lisa for her completion of this program!

The Gate’s Open in Texas

Montesino Ranch Open Gate, HMI
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We’ve been so pleased with the attendance at our Open Gate Learning Series events. Farmers and ranchers are really enjoying the casual, out-on-the-land format, where folks can learn from each other and walk away with practical ideas they can use.

Today, we are pleased to announce our Open Gate: Montesino Ranch  Day in Texas

A Whole Approach to Improving the Water Cycle

October 25, 2014
Montesino Ranch
Wimberley, TX

At the Open Gate: Montesino Ranch Day, you’ll…

  • See what fellow land managers are doing to maintain land health and profitability in a changing environment
  • Learn how to create healthy soil and healthy food
  • Discover agricultural practices that enhance stream health
  • Understand how the water cycle works in order to improve livestock, vegetable and orchard production
  • Practice biological monitoring techniques you can use on your farm or ranch
  • Connect with local producers and consumers interested in healthy food, animals, and land
  • Hear how Holistic Management enables producers to better manage risk, make better decisions and enjoy the benefits of sustainable agriculture

Some of our training programs are selling out this year, so please be sure to register early to ensure you have  spot.  Find Out More & Register.

WSARE Biological Monitoring Course Accomplishment

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HMI completed our fourth online course as part of our Whole Farm/Ranch Planning Program for Agricultural Educators funded by The Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) Professional Development Program. The Biological Monitoring course began in July 2014 with 28 participants from 9 different states. The instructor for the WSARE Biological Monitoring course was Holistic Management Certified Educator Phil Metzger. Phil Metzger is a natural resources development consultant having recently retired from a 32-year career as a resource conservationist for the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

This course provided key biological monitoring principles and practices to help facilitate conversations with producers about soil fertility and how production practices are influencing that fertility. Monitoring techniques for rangelands, pastures, and croplands were discussed. Participants mastered a simple approach to natural resource issue diagnosis based on monitoring data, past production practices, and potential new production practices that will address the resource issue profitably. The purpose of the course was to help agricultural educators and producers have a viable way to collect data and analyze their land. The participants learned to recognize the impact of prior decisions on the land and to observe and use ecosystem functions to increase land performance.

After surveying the participants in the WSARE Biological Monitoring course, a high number of participants experienced knowledge and behavior changes as noted below.

HMI thanks WSARE for their funding of this program.

Knowledge/Confidence Increase% Increase
Indicators of a healthy farm ecosystem89%
Your ability to monitor your farm’s ecosystem health89%
Your understanding of ecosystem processes on your farm89%
Behavior Change% of Participants
Increased confidence in ability to monitor your farm's ecosystem health100%
Increased confidence in ability to improve the ecosystem health on your farm100%
Increased confidence in how to build organic matter in your soils89%
Do you intend to conduct biological monitoring as a result of today's session?89%
Do you intend to change any management practices as a result of this session?89%
Overall Satisfaction of the course (good to excellent)100%

What the Participants Said:

“I am able to better organize strategies for implementing a more thorough monitoring system on the farm.”

“I loved the hands-on monitoring and want to learn more about monitoring and to practice it more!”

“Overall the course was excellent, very interactive with participants really participating. The feedback on assignments from Phil was very useful, and in some instances inspired me to “re-do”, or at least go take another look.”

“I think this [knowledge] will be very useful when I am working with producers and even just small acreage land owners that are looking to have better land stewardship practices.”

“[Most useful thing I learned was] how to monitor ecosystem processes, and the importance of observing the soil surface.”

“The monitoring is something that I have never learned about before. I think this will be very useful when I am working with producers and even just small acreage land owners that are looking to have better land stewardship practices.”

“I liked the actual methods for monitoring.”

“I really liked that the holistic process was tied into the monitoring; helped to reinforcing the subject matter.”

“Biological Monitoring is a huge subject and I thought this was very well-presented and succinct.”

Featured Participant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Julie Elliott

“I commented to Phil that I could not do 100 points of the Range Monitoring and he congratulated me for sticking it out to 50 as he usually only does 25!  It’s actually quite a relief to learn that it’s o.k. that I don’t collect tons of data- I can use my experience and judgment to determine if more points will garner a wider variety of information. Also, I like the range monitoring sheet and looking at insect and rodent activity on a ‘micro’ scale.  What happens on the micro level may tell me more about the condition of the ecological processes than looking at the range on the macro level.”

 

 

2014 Donor Report

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HMI’s work is making a meaningful impact on the people we serve and we are proud to release our  2014 Donor Report  to highlight our accomplishments over the last 12 months.  As we celebrate our 30th year, we are very Donor Report.reg 2014_Page_1grateful for your support which allowed us to deliver a record number of educational programs to our community.  In this report, we have focused on our online and distance learning programs which have allowed us to reach a broader array of farmers, ranchers, and land stewards.

Through this report we recognize and extend our thanks to all of our donors for caring about HMI and the farmers and ranchers we serve. Your support is essential to creating a sustainable future for farmers, ranchers and for our community.  Please consider a donation today. You can donate online or sending a check, made payable to HMI or Holistic Management International, to:

Holistic Management International
Development Department
5941 Jefferson St. NE, Suite BDonate Button Green Large
Albuquerque, NM 87109

 

 

Open Gate: Mesquite Grove Ranch Day Highlights

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Program Manager Peggy Cole filed this report about our most recent Open Gate near Snyder, Texas.

Mesquite Grove Open GateStrong breezes mitigated the hot west Texas sun as the Mesquite Grove Ranch Day got under way August 22nd. After a brief history of his family’s generations on the ranch by owner Buddy Baldridge, the 30 participants loaded into pickups for some on-the-land learning.

First stop was the edge of a 200-yard-wide mesquite grove. Dr. Kelly Reyna, our wildlife expert, and Dr. Richard Teague, our rangeland expert, guided the group to look at the diversity of vegetation outside the grove versus inside the grove with an eye to wildlife habitat as well as cattle needs. While the shade was useful in keeping the soil cooler and left plenty of navigable space for quail and cover for quail and deer, the biodiversity of plant species was far higher outside the grove. The conclusion is that both in concert contribute to good habitat. The opportunity for more covered soil in terms of litter was greater outside the grove, so decreasing the size of each grove would provide more grazing, while providing good corridors of shade and cover.

Ranch Manager and Holistic Management Certified Educator Guy Glosson taught the group how to estimate ADA’s (Animal Days per Acre)—the size area each cow would need to eat each day in order to stay full and the group worked together to learn the process. For more information about how to do that calculation and Holistic Grazing Planning check out our free downloads.

Mesquite Grove Ranch, Holistic Management, TexasGuy says always know you are guessing and are likely to be wrong. It is far better to err on the side of a low stocking rate, especially in drought. You are training your eye to estimate forage. Check yourself by seeing how the forage looks in that paddock well before your planned move. Be prepared to change your grazing plan or destock a bit if you under-estimated the ADA’s. The day you take the animals out of that paddock you will know the exact number of ADA’s and compare that to your original estimate.

The second stop was an area where the groves of mesquite had been sculpted back and the grassland was thriving, in spite of only 5 inches of rain in 2014. Dr. Teague introduced us to a simple biological monitoring system designed by Holistic Management Certified Educator Kirk Gadzia.

We divided into small groups and assessed the ecosystem function on these simple forms. Dr. Kelly Reyna has adapted this format into a quail habitat assessment tool. We took these forms out into the field in small groups to assess the quality of quail habitat on this location. All groups came together for a large group discussion on our findings. Kelly pointed out to always plan ahead for saving some of the big bunch grasses every year for quail nesting and cover.

Another stop was an area of thick shinnery. We did ADA’s here and saw that even though it took more space for each cow, the forage was good and the quail habitat excellent. There were plenty of taller shinnery motts for deer cover as well. At the water center of a wagon wheel, we noticed the dung beetles had removed every bit of manure and the cattle looked fat and healthy.

Participant Comments

“Excellent-extremely informational and well organized.”

“Like a rare steak-well done”

“A lot of new ideas I was unaware of.”

Thanks to the Dixon Water Foundation for a generous grant supporting this program and to our sponsors, Free Choice Enterprise and Ashmore Insurance and The Natural Resource Conservation Services.

Hover over the photos to see the captions.
  1. Dr. Richard Teague explains the rangeland monitoring process to small groups
  2. Dr. Kelly Reyna discusses the pros and cons of mesquite groves as quail habitat
  3. Buddy Baldridge gives the history of Mesquite Grove Ranch
  4. Dr. Kelly Reyna leads a discussion on quail habitat assessment
  5. Guy Glosson describes the process of estimating Animal Days per Acre
  6. One of the monitoring groups works through the quail habitat tool. L to r front Peggy Maddox, Dr. Richard Teague, back row Watt M Casey, Joe Maddox
  7. Learning all they can about quail
  8. Assessing cattle, deer, and quail needs in the shinneryery

Participants are managing over 45,000 acres. The evaluations showed that:

Question% Participants
Would you recommend this event to others?100%
Did you expand your learning network of people and resources100%
Do you intend to change management practices as a result of this training75%
Do you intend to develop or modify biological monitoring of your land as a result of today's event?75%
Increased Knowledge Experienced% Participants
Understanding the principles of holistic management88%
How and why to read (monitor) land88%
The importance of getting the stocking rate right67%
How to estimate forage in Animal Days/Acre81%
Critical monitoring criteria to build biological wealth and mitigate drought81%
The role of biodiversity in managing livestock with wildlife81%
Increased Confidence in Ability to...% Participants
Get your stocking rate right75%
Assess forage needs and availability69%
Analyze (monitor) ecosystem health63%
Improve land health with biodiversity81%
Manage livestock and wildlife together69%

 

Oklahoma Holistic Planned Grazing Course Results

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pasture walksmHMI partnered with Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Association to put on a 2-day Holistic Planned Grazing course near Hulbert, Oklahoma on August 22-23rd. The class included a pasture walk on Spring Forest Farm managed by Julie Gahn. The course was taught by HMI Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist. A diverse group of approximately 24 participants learned how and why to form a holistic goal, how ecosystem processes function and provide biological wealth, and specifically the tools of animal grazing and animal impact before diving into the grazing planning process.

The group was fortunate to have in attendance, Dr. Ann Wells, DVM and Dr. Ron Morrow, recently retired from NRCS as state grazing lands specialist. As working partners, Ann and Ron have been teaching a holistic approach to livestock grazing and management for many years. Their knowledge of the local forage species and growing conditions was invaluable to the group’s learning in an environment where the average annual rainfall is 48 inches.

As a result of this training and participant interest, the Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Association expressed an interest in sponsoring more Holistic Management training in the near future. This training was made possible by funding from the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Based on surveys participants were influenced the following ways by this event.

What the Participants Had to Say

“Learning the benefits of the soil food web and how to maximize the recovery period was very valuable.”

“I learned how to assess the health of a pasture and listen to my land.”

“The problems and challenges of every farm are distinct. Plans and observations are idiosyncratic. It’s important to be flexible but still make a plan.”

 

Question % Participants
Do you intend to develop or modify a grazing plan as a result of today’s event? 93%
Do you intend to change management practices as a result of this training 86%
Overall satisfaction with course (good or better) 93%

 

 Increased Knowledge Experienced  
The value of grazing planning 93%
How to assess recovery periods 100%
How to assess quantity of forage in a pasture 87%
How to improve land health with livestock 87%
How to determine the number of animals your pasture can support 93%
How to determine grazing periods 100%

 

 Increased Confidence Experienced  
Determining the number of animals your land can support for grazing 93%
Assessing recovery periods 87%
Determining how long animals will stay in each paddock (residency rates/grazing periods) 87%
Ability as a grazier 80%
Assessing quantity of forage in a pasture 80%
Calculating the number of paddocks for your system 80%
Ability to analyze ecosystem health 67%

 

 

 

2014 Maine Beginning Women Farmer Program Results

Beginning women farmers learn about grazing and animal husbandry as part of on-farm sessions
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We’ve just tabulated more results of our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast & Texas program. These are from the 2013-2014 season in Maine. This program, funded by a grant from

On-farm learning activities as part of the Maine Beginning Women Farmer Soil Fertility session

On-farm learning activities as part of the Maine Beginning Women Farmer Soil Fertility session

the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program, was coordinated by Gail Chase of Women’s Agricultural Network of Maine. This group finished their Holistic Management learning sessions in June and their final farm mentor visits in July. Lead instructors were Whole Farm Planning Instructors Gail Chase and Diane Schivera. Diane was also the mentor for the program as a collaboration with Maine Organic Gardeners and Farmers Association.

Of the participants responding to the final evaluation

  • 70% are currently farming
  • The average years of farming was 3 years
  • The average acres under production was 7 acres under production
  • The average age was 39 years old
  • The types of farm operations were as follows: Cattle/Cow/Calf (2), Vegetable/Fruit/Produce (4), Poultry (1), Goat (1), Pork (2), Flowers (2), Eggs (1).
  • The total customers of all participants was 72
  • 100% plan to continue farming

What Participants Had to Say:

“I now have tools to help me determine what enterprises to start.”

“I have better relationships with my customers because I needed to talk to each of them about raising prices. I learned how much they value my product.”

“Because of the class teachers and class members, I have much more confidence in my ability to really figure out my finances. I think this confidence has helped me approach wholesale markets.”

Some of the key outcomes noted were:

BWF PARTICIPANT BEHAVIOR CHANGE % of participants
Forge Relationships That Positively Impacted You 100%
Holistic Goal/Whole Farm Plan 100%
Financial Plan 100%
Marketing Plan 86%
Biological Monitoring 86%
Grazing Plan 50%
Business Plan 17%

 

 

Key Post Program Outcomes: Participants Experienced Increase In % Participants Experiencing Change
Satisfaction with Communication 100%
Satisfaction with Time Management 100%
Satisfaction with Ability to Determine Needed Profit 100%
Satisfaction with Ability to Make Complex Decisions 100%
Satisfaction with Quality of Life 83%
A layer hoophouse at Glass Horse Farm

A layer hoophouse at Glass Horse Farm

To read the full report, click here.

 

Connecticut Beginning Women Farmer Program Results

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ctsmWe’ve just tabulated more results of our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast & Texas program. These are from the 2013-2014 season in Connecticut. This program, funded by a grant from the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program, was coordinated by Deb Legge and Sherry Simpson of Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association. This group finished their Holistic Management learning sessions in May and their final farm mentor visits in July. Lead instructors were Certified Educators Seth Wilner and Phil Metzger and Whole Farm Planning Instructors Sherry Simpson and Crystal Stewart. Mentors for the program were Allyson Angelini, Christine Farrugia, and Phoebe Browning.

Of the participants responding

  • 75% are currently farming and 88% intend to continue to farm
  • The average years of farming was 2 years (range: 1 – 8 years)
  • The average acres under production was 2 acres under production (range: 0.25 – 5 acres)
  • The average age was 42 years old (range: 24 to 67 years old)
  • 75% of farm operations were:  Vegetable/Fruit/Produce.
  • The total customers of all participants: 76

woman tractorsmHere’s what some of the participants had to say and the results from this year’s program:

“I have a confidence in my own knowledge and ability to speak up regarding our homesteading.”

“I have enhanced the usage of our space due to our land plan.”

“We have developed a friendship with our mentor and a participant farmer nearby. They are both a wealth of information and excellent resources for us.”

Through this training, I’ve met many individuals willing to share their knowledge and passion of farming which has increased my own knowledge of farming immensely.”                                                  

All the individuals (peers and instructors/mentors) I have met during this class have taught me something, and have helped me unearth my own self confidence in myself along with the weaknesses I struggle with. And it feels wonderful to have a small group of people who have a similar mindset or love for farming, the land, and good food. All of this has nurtured the flame and love I have for this lifestyle I live.”   

I have folks that I can work with that are in the program and also some I have met through workshops I have learned about as a result of the program.”        

plantingTo read the full program results for Connecticut, click here.

 

Rancher hosts seminar on ranching success

Open ate JX Ranch Day, Tom Sidwell, HMI Holistic Management
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Our latest Open Gate learning day is in the news. It’s always good to see Holistic Management Practitioners and Open Gate Hosts like Tom Sidwell from JX Ranch  getting well deserved recognition in their areas.  Steve Hansen wrote an article in the Quay County County . Here’s an excerpt…

Quay Valley rancher Tom Sidwell has acquired a reputation as a successful user of agricultural practices that are considered sustainable and holistic, and on Saturday, he hosted a group of 50 like-minded farmers and ranchers from as far away as Oklahoma and Colorado to show them how he does it.

Sidwell not only showed them how, but how well he has succeeded by using new-age ranching techniques.

The bottom line: these techniques hold water—quite literally. His assigned subject for the day was successful ranching during a drought.  Read More….

If you are currently practicing Holistic Management on your farm or ranch and are interesting in possibly hosting an Open Gate day in your area, please contact Ann Adams, Director of Programs to find out more.

And if you would like to attend an Open Gate, check out the programs page to see this year’s schedule.

Open Gate: JX Ranch Day Shows Green

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The over 50 participants, who came to the Open Gate: JX Ranch Day south of Tucumcari, New Mexico on August 9th, looked around in wonder at all the green growing grass. While the JX Ranch has received 9 inches of rain this year, the amount of grass in this area that has struggled with drought since 2011 was very impressive.

Open Gate JX Ranch Day, Sustainable AGriculture, holistic management hmiAfter HMI’s Interim CEO Ann Adams opened up the event with orienting everyone to the agenda for the day, Tom Sidwell explained how they have been able to survive the drought by the practice of Holistic Management, effectively investing in infrastructure development, and improving the marketing of their animals. In particular, since 2004 the JX Ranch has put in 38,400 feet of pipeline, 11.5 miles of fence, new corrals, 12 livestock drinkers, 4 solar pumps and panels, 2 new wells, and 7 storage tanks (80,000 gallons total) , as well as clearing 1800 acres of mesquite and juniper. They have found willing partners in the NRCS (EQIP money) and the National Wild Turkey Federation to reduce the cost of these investments.

The results? Prior to the drought, the Sidwells increased their stocking rate by 40% and after destocking deeply during the drought, they still have a 25% increase in stocking rate as compared to what they were running in 2004. Due to tree clearing, their house well has increased by 500%, even through the drought.

The increased range productivity was evident to all participants as we broke into small groups to practice forage inventorying and discuss grazing practices and how much to have animals graze and why. Group participants shared their experience then we headed back to the ranch house for a great lunch from Jimmy Watson’s Barbeque. At the end of lunch Susann Mikkelson of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union explained to participants the value of cooperatives and the assistance that RMFU can provide to producers.

Open ate JX Ranch Day, Tom Sidwell, HMI Holistic ManagementIn the afternoon we continued stepping through the grazing calculations before Scott Lerich of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Tish McDaniel of the Nature Conservancy, Jake Swofford of Quails Forever, and Amy Erickson talked about how good ranch practices can improve wildlife habitat as well as livestock forage. We discussed how wildlife can be an additional enterprise for some ranches. We then went out to the field again to do some on the ground biological monitoring and talking about indicators of soil and wildlife habitat health. The small group discussions were lively again with lots of information shared.

We ended the day with a discussion on profitable marketing. Laurie Bower of the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance talked about how SWGLA assists grassfed producers, then Mimi Sidwell talked about how she grew her grassfed customer base and how they maintained it during the drought. Lastly, Jack and Tuda Crews talked about the New Mexico Beef program they are involved in and how they are able to get the premiums they want from that program.

Participants managed over 240,000 acres and were influenced the following ways by this event.

Participant Comments

“Very educational! Great balance of hand on/lecture.”
“Very nicely put together. I really enjoyed the out in the field trips and looking at all the ground cover.”
“I liked how open the environment was.”
“Great networking event. Good to look at some pasture.”

Slide Show

(hover over the photo to see the caption)

  1. Biological Monitoring
  2. Gathering Samples
  3. Dr. Ann Adams from HMI leads transects excercise
  4. Attendees break out into smaller groups for excercises
  5. Land Planning Discussion
  6. Open Gate Days always allow for time to meet and discuss agricultural production issues with others
  7. Open Gates include a delicious locally sourced lunch
  8. Tom Sidwell from the JX Ranch explains his operations
  9. Open Gates always include a variety of presenters knowledgeble about the local area
  10. Local ranchers discuss ranching in New Mexico
  11. Open Gate days are always full of valuable information

Data

Question% Participants
Would you recommend this event to others?100%
Did you expand your learning network of people and resources100%
Do you intend to complete a biological monitoring on your land as a result of today's event?100%
Do you intend to develop or modify a grazing plan as a result of today's event? 89%
Increased Knowledge Experienced% Participants
On how to determine land health64%
On how to improve ranch profitability62%
Of the value of grazing planning for drought mitigation59%
On determining plant recovery 55%
On grazing strategies to survive drought50%
Increased Confidence in Ability to...% Participants
Determine land health83%
Determine appropriate grazing strategies83%
Determine plant recovery75%
Create a grazing plan71%
Monitor ecosystem health71%
Determine appropriate infrastructure development71%
Analyze ecosystem health67%

 

Thanks

Thanks to Tom and Mimi Sidwell for opening the JX Ranch gate to all our participants. Thanks also to the Thornburg Foundation for their support of this event and to our sponsors, Southwest Quay SWCD, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance, the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Canadian River SWCD

Be sure to check out the Open Gate page for a complete listing of learning days scheduled this year.