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.
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 Financial 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%|
|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.”