Whole Farm Ranch Business Planning Course a Success in Colorado

HMI’s Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning Training course wrapped up in March of 2016.  WFBOMONFinancialPlanningSession1Classes took place in Montrose, Colorado. The training classes were taught by Holistic Management Certified Educator Cindy Dvergston.

According to Cindy, the class was diversified, with both beginning farmers and 5th generation ranchers attending. Operations were diversified as well, with cow-calf operations, a goat dairy, a quail farm, and a dude ranch just some of the enterprises run by class participants.

The first class covered the basics of Holistic Management, including Defining the Whole, Creating the Holistic Goal, Testing Decisions, Ecosystem Process, Management Tools, Time Management, Leadership and Communication.

In the second session, the Marketing and Business Planning module was presented.

The final session was Financial Planning, with students using a number of worksheets to gain clarity about the contribution of each of their enterprises to the whole and to create a complete financial plan for their own operation.

Here are some participant comments:

“Every day I appreciate this course even more.  I really benefited from learning about budgeting and making financial decisions that honor my values.”

 “I spent an evening with my 7 and 9 year old sons talking about cows and hay. This is the first time I ever included them in discussions about what is important to them and their perspective of the ranch.  We were having so much fun that we went past their bedtime and my wife made us quit.”

“My God, what have I been doing all these years? I was just winging it with the marketing. Now I have a business modelthat will focus on what really works for us and we can let go of marketing that does not provide results.”

“This course has helped me put all to pieces together.  I realize now that I have more than one market in my business model (as a ranch manager) in that my landlord needs to be considered as a customer”.

“Setting the holistic goal and learning how to work with my family will make a big difference in helping me figure out how to keep our ranch in the family.”

 “Learning about the tools of management and making my tool box inventory is helping me focus on putting time and money into the right places.”

“I appreciate the in-depth knowledge and experiences you have to share with us about land management, agricultural businesses and holistic management.”WFBOMONFinancialPlanning2

 

Outcomes                                                                                     % of respondents

Session 1  – Introduction to Holistic Management

Assessing how time is spent on your farm – 100%

Increased ability to use the whole farm goal to guide communication on your farm – 100%

Increased ability to develop a written whole farm/ranch goal – 100%

More confidence in delineating farm resources for management – 100%
Increased ability to define your management team for effective management – 94%

More confidence in communicating with decision makers – 94%
Session 2- Marketing and Business Planning

Your ability to develop a business model for your farm/ranch – 100%

Intention to complete or modify a marketing and business plan as a result of today’s session – 100%

Understanding of how your whole farm goal and financial plan help you develop a marketing

plan that fits your farm – 93%

How to effectively promote your products/services – 87%

How to use your financial plan to profitably price your products/services – 83%

How to define your target market – 80%

Session 3 – Financial Planning

Improved skills in developing a whole farm financial plan – 100%

Increased ability to asses the cash flow of your plan – 100%

Intention to complete or modify a financial plan for your farm – 100%

Considered the course to be good or excellent – 100%

Increased ability to increase your farm’s rough net worth (balance sheet) – 93%

Increased ability to prioritize and cut expenses on your farm – 93%

Increased ability to get the profit you need from your farm – 87%

 

 

 

‘Get Down to Business’ in Oklahoma Wraps Up

‘Get Down to Business in Oklahoma,’ part of HMI’s Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning Series wrapped up this past February.  The three 2-day workshops took place at the John E. Kirkpatrick Horticulture Center at OSU – Oklahoma City.  Designed to focus on the business side of farming and ranching, students were introduced to a variety of topics, including goal setting, decision testing, time management, leadership and communication, financial planning, marketing and business plan creation.

About 80% of the class were already farming or ranching, with the majority raising cattle.

CeWFRBPOK16-FinancialPlanningKatrtified Educator Tracy Ltile was the lead instructor, with assistance provided by Julie Gahn.  Other Certified Educators-in-Training also participated in the workshops, and included Lauri Celella, Katherine Ottmers, and CD Pounds.

Each of the sessions were designed for both small and large group discussions, so participants were able to benefit from the experiences of their fellow participants.

The first session provided participants with an introduction to the Holistic Management framework, as well as how to create a holistic goal.  They were also introduceWFRBPOK16-SortingExpensesd to time management tools that were designed to improve farm/ranch efficiency.

The second session focused on Holistic Financial Planning, with participants learning the importance of using gross profit analysis to evaluate each enterprise.  They were shown how planning for profit will allow them to put a cap on expenses, while providing more opportunities to invest back into their farm or ranch business.

The last session focused on marketing, production, and management, with participants attending a Farmers Market in order to analyze marketing and promotion.  Participants were also able to develop SMART goals regarding their business and marketing planning. 

Here are some participant comments:

  • The most useful part of the first class was linking values to the holistic goal, and the importance of including personal and family time in time management.
  • I intend to move all our practices toward supporting our holistic goal.
  • We will incorporate more planning and forethought.
  • My favorite parts were the stories to bring life to the organizational components.
  • These two days were very helpful. I feel that I learned the system and I’m ready to go home, pull our information together, set up this year, and have a system that we use from here out.
  • I thought it was a good mix of lecture, student work & interaction one-one with instructors as needed.
  • I intend to change my process to determining profit upfront and capping expenses
  • We are going to develop intentional practices of planning and monitoring our actions related to our business.

 

Outcomes:                                           % of respondents with knowledge increase

The basics:                                         

More confidence in developing written whole farm goal – 90%

More confidence in communicating with decision makers – 76%

Increased understanding of the ways to effectively manage time on your farm – 76%

Increased ability to define your management team for effective management – 75%

Better processes to assess how your time is spent on your farm – 76%

More confidence in identifying systems and protocols for your farm -76%

Financial Planning

Increased ability to determine your farm’s rough net worth – 10%

Skill in determining viable profitable enterprises for your farm – 100%

Skill in determining your farm’s projected revenue – 100%

Skill in developing a whole farm financial plan – 100%

Getting the profit you need from your farm – 100%

Skill in prioritizing and cutting farm expenses to guide reinvestment in your farm – 95%

Marketing/Business Planning

How to write a SWOT analysis for your farm/ranch – 100%

Your ability to use your holistic goal to guide your business/strategic plan – 100%

Developing a marketing plan that meets your farm needs and goals – 100%

Promoting your farm products – 93%

Increased ability to develop a business plan for your farm/ranch – 93%

How to use your financial plan to profitably price your products/services – 93%

DecisionTestingW_Tracy

 

Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning a Success in Texas

WFRBPNT2016-2A diverse group of participants attended Holistic Management International’s Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning Series, which took place January – March 2016.   This Whole/Farm Ranch Business Planning course took place in Henrietta, Texas with classes taught by Holistic Management Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist and Certified Educator Trainee Deborah Clark.

Participants were running a diverse selection of enterprises, including cattle, vegetables/produce, sheep, poultry, with a few enjoying bees, goats and fruit as well.  Most of the participants had limited exposure to Holistic Business Planning and said they were there to create a working plan for their farm or ranch business.

The first workshop began with participants creating a whole farm inventory.  Defining this inventory helped them create their Holistic Goal.  A decision-making matrix was introduced, along with steps toward a time management plan.

The second workshop focused on Holistic Financial Planning, teaching the participants how to plan for profit, how to assess net worth and increWFRBPNT2016ase it, how to assess the financial value of each enterprise, how to locate the weakest link in every enterprise and reinvest in the business by addressing any logjams, adverse factors and those weak links.  Participants also created a gross profit analysis for each enterprise, as well as a complete financial plan.

The final workshop allowed participants to explore all the aspects of creating a marketing plan, including products, pricing, and placement. Participants were also tasked with creating both a marketing plan and a business plan.

 

Here is what some of the participants had to say about the the Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning Series:

  • The instructors were terrific! Their discussions and experiences are invaluable tools for me as I plan my farm. Thank you!
  • I enjoyed learning to identify the major top priority investments that will lead to resolving logjams, increasing net worth, and move toward my holistic goal.
  • I intend to become more organized and act with more intent on a more long-term vision.
  • I intend to use better communication to effect change.
  • The most useful thing I learned is how to write a holistic goal and methods for more effective time management.

Outcomes                                                                                                                      % of respondents

Session 1
Increased ability to integrate social, economic, and environmental factors into your decision making – 100%

Increased conflict resolution skills on the farm/ranch – 100%

Increased ability to use your whole farm/ranch goal to guide communication on your farm/ranch – 100%

Increased understanding of the seasonal time flow/demands for your far – 89%

Increased ability to develop a whole farm/ranch goal – 89%

Session 2

Increased ability to determine your farm’s rough net worth (balance sheet) – 100%

Improved skills in developing a whole farm financial plan – 100%

Increased ability to asses the cash flow of your plan – 100%

Increased ability to determine viable profitable enterprises for your farm – 91%

Increased ability to get the profit you need from your farm – 91%

Session 3

Your ability to develop a business plan for your farm/ranch – 100%

How to use your financial plan to profitably price your products/services – 100%

Intention to complete or modify a marketing and business plan – 100%

Overall Satisfaction of the course and the instructors (good to excellent) – 100%

How to define your target market – 82%

 

 

 

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!”

 

 

 

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

Curriculum Cover

HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management course began in August 2015 with 29 participants from five 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 Planning Survey Results% Participants -Increased Knowledge or Confidence
Ability to define your management team 100%
Ability to inventory your farms resources100%
Ability to develop a whole farm goal 100%
Ability to identify needed systems and protocols to create a successful farm 100%
Ability to integrate social, economic, and environmental factors into your decisions 100%
Ability to make complex on-farm or ranch decisions100%
Ability to assess ecosystem health100%

Here’s what the participants had to say:

“[Most useful thing was] writing the holistic goal, and thinking how to achieve that.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course.”

“The briefs on ecosystem processes and recognizing their health practically and quickly in the field was by far the most valuable.”

“Very informative given the scope of information covered and limited time.”

“Very good, excellent.”

“[I have a] better understanding of aspects involved in planning and needed for success.”

“Everything we learned was and will be useful moving forward.”

“Overall impression was very good. Learned quite a bit but we have a long way to go. This class gave us the confidence to continue learning HM and taught us not to get stuck on the details. Keep an open mind.”

“Overall, I thought it was a good introduction and helped me get started on using Holistic Management.”

“[Most useful thing was] how to define a holistic goal and the systems and procedures that need to be in place to achieve it.”

 

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

Click here to find out more about this program and register for our upcoming course.

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

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

 

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


Testimonials:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Featured Participant

 Johnnie Balfour 1-JB14

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

Holistic Management Certified Educator on the Radio

Greenhorn Radio recently interviewed Holistic Management Certified Educator, Erica Frenay from Shelterbelt Farms in New York.  Erica talks about how the Holistic Management decision making process and her Holistic Goal guides all her decisions on her farm and  helped her transition from a hobby into a commercial farming business.  Erica participated in HMI’s Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast program. You can read more about Erica and the development of her farm in this article from In Practice, HMI’s journal.  Afterwards, be sure to listen to the radio interview.

We’ve Updated our FREE downloads

At HMI, we are continuously improving our educational materials and teaching methods to make it easier than ever for farmers and ranchers to reap the benefits of practicing Holistic Management.  In February of 2011 we started our enormously  popular free downloads program. Since that time, almost 2000 people have benefited from these materials.  We are pleased to announce that we have recently updated the materials — making them even easier to use.

HMI Sheep Llama GrazingOur new free downloads  include the recently updated framework for greater ease in learning and practice! HMI’s free downloads include:

  • Introduction to Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning
  • Holistic Financial Planning
  • Holistic Grazing Planning

These manuals and support materials give you the tools to develop a holistic goal, analyze decisions easily and effectively, develop a value-based financial annual cash flow, analyze enterprises, and develop a holistic grazing plan.

Help Us Grow

While we offer these valuable materials for free, please remember that HMI is a non-profit organization. The only way we can continue to offer these materials, and our other educational programs is through your support. We hope that you will consider making a small donation to help offset our costs.

Canadian Newsletter

The Canadian Holistic Management group is an active team of people. Their statement of purpose is to provide knowledge, motivation & networking opportunities to Holistic Management practitioners. In their most recent newsletter,  they discuss planned grazing for 2012 and the advantages of maintaining full recovery. A short read, but well worth it.