In March HMI began offering Whole Farm Planning training at the request of a passionate group of farmers from the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This program is funded by a grant from the Thornburg Foundation for member farms of the Ag ri-Cultura Network (ACN).
In 2012, ACN started a Community Supported Agriculture project called La Cosecha CSA, designed to connect low-income community members with fresh, healthy, locally-grown food and nutrition education in the South Valley. Last year La Cosecha CSA served 250 families. This year they will serve 300 families – over half of whom benefit from subsidized or sponsored memberships.
The 17 La Cosecha CSA farmers gather once a week for evening classes in Financial Planning, Marketing, and Business Planning. They have now completed the first 3 classes of 10 that comprise the series. The first 5 classes introduce the Holistic Management framework, using the Decision Testing questions, and Financial Planning. After a summer break, the classes will resume in the Fall, with classes to complete Financial Plans, discuss Marketing, and create Business Plans.
Participants reported a 100% intention to complete a Whole Farm plan, a 92% increase in their confidence in making complex decisions, a 100% intention to use Holistic Management Decision Making on their farms, a 100% change in their understanding of the key testing decisions for effective Financial Planning, and 100% satisfaction with the Introduction to Financial Planning session.
ACN is a farmer-owned network made up of 13 small, South Valley-based farms that has been aggregating, processing and selling locally-grown produce to restaurants, schools and institutions in Albuquerque since 2009. As a Network, ACN’s goals are 1) to support small growers and build a sustainable market for small, local farms and 2) to make local, healthy food and nutrition education affordable and accessible to all members of our community. La Cosecha means “the harvest” in Spanish – so it was a natural name for a program that helps Network farmers share their harvest with the community.