Holistic Management Practitioners Receive Recognition

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Congratulations to The Burrows Ranch, owned and operated by Bill and Kay Burrows!

These Holistic Management practitioners have been recognized by the American Farmland Trust for their diverse land use as part of their Profiles in Stewardship Program.  Here’s a couple of excerpts from an article by Julie R. Johnson published in the Corning Observer…

A holistic management decision-making process converted the ranch from a cattle operation to a diversified cattle, agritourism, carbon sequestration, and land conservation business that uses cattle as well as meat goats and sheep for brush control.

“We attended and workshop in Red Bluff about holistic management and within 20 minutes of being in that workshop I knew I had found the answer for us,” Bill said.

Be sure  to read the full article on their website

Holistic Management Practitioners in the News

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Progressive Dairyman has published a list of their top most read articles in 2013 and a story they did on Kress and Tammy Simpson of KTS Farm in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, made the list! Kress and Tammy are using Holistic Management in their dairy operation. We think it’s great that so many folks are interested in reading about Holistic Management.  You can read the article and update on the Simpon’s at the Progressive Dairyman webpage.



One of our program graduates is in the news!

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Congratulations to Tricia Park of Creekside Farms. Tricia is a graduate of HMI’s Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast program.  She also recently hosted a HMI Open Gate Learning event at her farm in New York.  Tamara Jean Scully from Country Folks magazine wrote the article.  Here’s an excerpt….

The key to their success is grass. Managing pastures for better forage has led to increased weight gain, decreased need for inputs on the farm, and “high-quality, pasture-raised meats” sold directly to customers via a meat CSA, the farm store and an online farmers’ market. The family practices Holistic Management, considering the health of the land, the animals, the community and the family — which includes being profitable and having time for non-farming respites — when managing and setting goals for the farm.

Their farm, purchased in May, 2011, had been planted in alfalfa hay for years. The soil was bare. Moss was growing everywhere. They began to improve the pasture quality, so it could support their animals. Today, they graze much of year, stockpile forages, and use minimal off-farm inputs. Be sure to read the entire article on the Country Folks website.

Holistic management: land, people and profit

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Our Open Gate: Creekside Meadows Farm Day in New York is in the news.  The Country Folks farm paper published an article by Tamara Scully, who joined producers and land managers in New York for a day of learning on the land. Holistic Management Certified Educator, Erica Frenay is quoted…

Holistic Management can “create a foundation to set our farm up for success in the long-term.”

Frenay emphasized the Holisitic Management approach is a decision-making tool, with guides designed to help farmers ask the right set of questions when making decisions on the farm.

“We as farmers have a really unique profession. We take sunlight, and turn it into money,” Frenay said. “Everything that we do has a financial, ecological and economic component to it.”

You can read the entire article on the Country Folks website.

You can find our more about our Open Gate on-farm learning series here.

Beef field day designed to identify, solve problems

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The Country Today newspaper just published an article on HMI’s Open Gate On-Farm Learning Series: Paine Family Farm Day. HMI’s Director of Community Service, Frank Aragona was on hand and quoted…

“The purpose of this program is to get farmers and ranchers together in a group to share ideas and troubleshoot what their problems are and help one another solve some of those problems,” Aragona said. “Another purpose is to come to Laura and Bill’s place to see what they’re doing and see what you can do on your farm so you can be more effective and successful.”

I encourage you can read the full article on the Country Today website.

Here are a few photos from the event….



Nature Down On The Farm

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The Times Union in New York just published an article by Matthew Hamilton featuring several farmers that are farming holistically.  Both  farmers are selling grass-fed USDA-certified organic meat and, of course, are practicing intensive grazing and pasture rotation.  HMI’s, Director of Community Services, Ann Adams is quoted in the article…

Adams said profits for large farms that make the switch can be higher because input costs like fuel and fertilizer are lower with holistic practices. The bottom line isn’t the only thing that’s boosted, either

“Anybody who had done it conventionally and switched to Holistic Management are always saying, ‘My stress is less. My profit is greater. I’m enjoying it more,’” Adams said.

We encourage you to read the entire article on the Times Union website.

Holistic Management Practitioners & Educators in the News

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Here are a number of articles published about international Holistic Management Practitioners and Certified Educators. Enjoy….

Ever thought about what your own eulogy might sound like?

From the ABC Rural in New South Wales, Australia, read this article about Holistic Management Certified Educator, Brian Wehlburg

“If people can identify what drives them and what excites them, it becomes a positive driver for change.”

Read More…

Brain is also featured in this short video.

An holistic, sustainable style of farming

From the Comax Valley Record in British Columbia, CA, read the story of Dan & Maggie Thran who run the DKT Farm in Courtenay

“We try to follow what we call a holistic management style,” explains Thran. “It’s a natural approach that involves profitability, a family lifestyle, sustainability and environmental considerations. If you lose any one of those components, the other three fall by the wayside.”

Read More….

A man who loved the land

From The Land, in NSW, Australia, read the story of George Gundy, a former Holistic Management Certified Educator who recently passed away….

“Holistic Management embodies “triple bottom line” thinking. It teaches that no-one can make sound decisions unless they consider a decision’s personal, financial and environmental consequences – and that means the person making the decision needs a “holistic” understanding of what they value in life.

The logic of this idea hit Mr Gundry hard. In the early 2000s he went to the United States to undertake training as a Holistic Management educator.”

Read More…


Acres USA Features women participants of HMI’s Beginning Farmers & Ranchers Program

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Equal Share
Women’s Role in Agriculture Expanding

The April 2013 Issue of Acres USA features an article about two women farmers — graduates of our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast program — Elysa Bryant and Tricia Park. Author Tara Maxwell writes…

“The role of women in agriculture continues to grow as more women take the helm of farms and ranches across the country. Of the 3.3 million U.S. farm operators counted in the 2007 Census of Agriculture, 30.2 percent — or more than 1 million — were women, and the number of women who were the principal operators of a farm or ranch increased by almost 30 percent from 2002.”

We are so proud of these ladies and all the women who are building the farms and ranchers of their dreams. Be sure to read the full article.

HMI is currently running Beginning Farmers & Ranchers programs in the Northeast and Texas. If you are a women with less than ten years of experience and interested in participating in these programs, be sure to join HMI’s mailing list to be notified of when enrollment begins for our 2013/2014 season.

NRCS Adopts Holistic Management

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Robert Fears recently wrote an article for Lands of Texas magazine. It’s got a great description of the benefits to soil when practicing Holistic Management. This will be of particular interest to anyone dealing with drought conditions.

“By learning how to farm in nature’s image we can improve soil health function,” said Conservation Agronomists Ray Archuleta and Willie Durham of NRCS. “When we understand the different components that contribute to soil health, we can increase infiltration rate and add organic matter, all of which can improve the bottom line.”

“When we improve soil health, we address the majority of our natural resource concerns,” says Archuleta. “The problem is that we have become detached from our land and no longer understand it. We need to be able to diagnose soil health and design management strategies for improvement.” Read More….

Holy Holistic Management Batman!

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Laurie Bostic and Kim Martin  from Barking Cat Farm just published this update in their newsletter. Laurie and Kim are participating in HMI’s Beginning Farmer & Rancher: Women in Texas program.

We are always delighted to hear from farmers & ranchers that are benefiting from our programs and educational offerings. They are a true inspiration!….

Holy Holistic Management Batman!

Probably the most important thing that happened to us in 2012 was that we were selected to be in the first class of Beginning Women Farmers and Ranchers in Texas conducted by Holistic Management International. Only 33 women were selected so we were extremely fortunate to have been among them. What is Holistic Management you ask? Well, it begins by teaching you that in nature, nothing operates independently. All ecosystems processes are interconnected, just as people have interconnections like family, friends, etc. Changing one thing can lead to unintended consequences if you don’t consider the whole system you are operating in. So to begin, they had us define what it is that we’re managing – basically a description of the farm, the nursery, the resources we have. Then we wrote our ‘holistic goal’ which is what we’re managing towards. This goal includes things like quality of life statements, behaviors we must perform to achieve those quality of life statements, and our vision of what the farm will be like in the future. After you have articulated your holistic goal, then you test your management decisions to see if they’re leading towards it or away from it. It’s deceptively simple yet complicated at the same time.

That was just the first class, there have been classes on: time management – focusing on switching to annual plans versus todo lists that don’t get finished; financial planning with a holistic approach where you plan for profit before expenses; marketing & business planning; biological monitoring for pastures & cropland; and finally land planning – training on how best to plan infrastructure. There is just one session left, but we’ve already seen good changes as we implement holistic planning. For example, we know that ‘resource conversion’, that is converting sunlight into crops, is a weak link for us. That means any money we spend should be focused on fixing that weak link before anything else. That leads us to examine why resource conversion is a weak link, and we’ve identified labor and a soil biology problem. The labor problem we’ve decided is two-fold. One part can be solved by hiring additional help. The other part is to make changes to reduce the amount of hand labor required. A simple example of that is that we’ve decided to reduce the number of rows inside the deer fence to allow us to bring the tractor in more often to clear crops. The soil biology problem is more complicated, more on that below.

Besides all of the training, we also now have a network of women in Texas that are doing the same kinds of things we are. We’re already starting to work together outside of the HMI classes to help each other. Having those connections will be invaluable as the years go on.

Soil Biology

We’ve known for awhile that we were making improvements in our soil chemistry, but we felt like the soil biology was not where it needed to be. Through our connections with HMI, we met a lady named Betsy Ross. We were able to tour her ranch down near Temple back in November and see her pastures & grass fed cattle (Betsy Ross Grassfed Beef) She also runs a consulting company, Sustainable Growth Texas. During our visit to her ranch with the HMI group, Betsy recommended a reading list for those wanting to learn more about soil biology. We had already read one or two of the books on the list and had a superficial knowledge of soil biology. Well, we started reading. Then we called Betsy and entreated her to come up to do a consultation for us. So just this past week Betsy, her son John and one of their new guys came up to see both places. We’d have to say, wow, we learned more in the time we spent with them than reading any book could teach you. Fortunately for us, Betsy has agreed to keep working with us.

What they found is that the ‘working biology’ in our soil is not working. We need to do some things to wake it back up and in some cases re-innoculate it. Betsy has suggested we start measuring the brix levels of our plants as a way to measure whether amendments are helping or not. So we’ve ordered a refractometer to measure brix. (Brix is a measure of the sugar content of the plant). There are charts that give ranges for where different kinds of vegetables should fall in a brix reading. And we’re in the process of shopping for a microscope so that we can monitor the biology ourselves. This is all related to the soil food web which you may have heard of before. If you want to read a good introduction, here’s a Soil Biology Primer.