The Connecticut Whole Farm Planning training took place in late 2016 to early 2017. The training offered 10 sessions which took place in a classroom setting as well as on the land. The training was a collaboration with Connecticut NOFA, with Sherry Simpson working as the lead instructor for all classes.
The first class was an opportunity for the 16 class participants to become acquainted – with each other and with Holistic Management. This introduction included providing participants with four worksheets, so they could start forming the foundation of their Holistic Goal. The worksheets; Whole Under Management, Quality of Life, Behaviors & Systems, and Future Vision were explained, and participants given some time to complete each worksheet. The day ended with team exercises and class discussion.
Class 2 focused on time management, along with a comprehensive review of Holistic Management concepts and the Holistic Management Framework. Participants also reviewed and discussed the seven Holistic Management testing questions, working through some examples in class. The afternoon was spent on time management; with participants reviewing the three main components of time management, while also working through a quiz and team exercises.
Class 3 focused on Financial Planning, explaining Holistic Management Financial Planning terms and the productivity pyramid. The concept of planning for profit was also introduced, and homework from the previous session was reviewed, and questions answered. The discussion then turned to how financial planning feeds directly into production planning, which feeds directly into record keeping, which eventually feeds back into financial planning at year end.
Class 4 was a continuation of Financial Planning, bringing together the previous class information in order to form the basis of the 9-step approach to HM financial planning. The class walked through each of the nine steps, particularly focusing on the new concepts of net worth (beginning and ending) and expense prioritization. The expense prioritization concept was reinforced through a team exercise where small teams worked to categorize 35 sample expenses into 1) top priority, 2) inescapable, or 3) maintenance expenses. After lunch, participants worked on creating an Annual Income & Expense spreadsheet, emphasizing the order and the breakdown of expenses into different categories. A discussion on cash flow was next, followed by team exercises.
Class 5 was centered on Marketing, with the class reviewing the basics of a marketing plan – objectives, market research, competition, and communication. This included group exercises on mapping competition, identifying products and target customers, and creating a 10-minute marketing calendar as well as reviewing case studies on competition. Also introduced Cornell’s Marketing Channel Assessment Guide and demonstrated how it can help with selecting the most appropriate marketing channel for a farm. Finished up with tips and ideas for displays based on studies of consumer behavior.
Class 6 focused on Business Planning, identifying who had completed a BP in the past and discussing the process and helpfulness of a BP. Two new ventures were introduced that needed $100,000 investments, including details about who, what, where, why/how in a verbal discussion. This segued into how a BP is simply a written narrative of what had been verbalized, something that demonstrates an idea’s potential for success. The three main parts of a BP were discussed and tied into Holistic Management.
Class 7 focused on Leadership & Communications including collaborative decision making. This class also introduced the concept of choosing words to create the reality envisioned. Participants also practiced active listening techniques and discussed multiple conflict management strategies and how the key to managing conflict is choosing and executing the strategy that best fits the situation. The afternoon was spent touring a large vegetable operation.
Class 8 concentrated on Land & Infrastructure Planning, and featured hands-on team activities as well as an introduction to the design process. A conceptual planning exercise (where functional relationships are explored) followed. The afternoon was spent touring the property used in the mapping exercise and discussing different projects on the farm.
Class 9 focused on Grazing Planning, covering pasture growth (rainfall patterns, soil water holding capacity), pasture composition (grasses, legumes), pasture management (overgrazing, undergrazing) as well as grazing principles (recovery period, grazing period, stock density). The class concluded with the completion of a grazing chart. The host then provided a tour of his goat farm.
Class 10 covered Soil Fertility & Biomonitoring, with class participants discussing the four primary components of soil composition (minerals, air, water, organic matter) as well as the three particle sizes of the mineral component (sand, silt, clay). Further explained organic matter and both the living organisms and decomposing materials it contains, plus cation exchange capacity and water holding capacity. The class then moved into the physical characteristics of soil (texture, structure, density). Introduced the concept of the soil profile and soil horizons. Finished up with a demo of NRCS Web Soil Survey for the property the class was visiting. Discussed biological monitoring – starting with a baseline, testing decisions and managing the ecosystem, and then monitor & replanning as necessary. The class concluded with a review of the four ecosystem processes, with specific examples of soil health indicators.
Here are some of the results achieved:
|More confidence in ability to make complex decisions||100%|
|Intend to implement time management tools||100%|
|Increased ability to complete a gross profit analysis||100%|
|Ability to develop a whole farm financial plan||100%|
|Intend to complete a financial plan||100%|
|Intend to complete a marketing plan||100%|
|Intend to complete a business plan||100%|
|Increased ability to communicate with customers||100%|
|Intend to complete a written land plan||100%|
|Increased ability to assess recovery periods||100%|
|Intend to complete a whole farm plan||93%|
|Intend to change management practices||92%|
|Intend to change leadership practices||91%|
HMI would like to thank Connecticut NOFA for their support and collaboration.
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We have helped farmers and ranchers in 130 countries learn and practice Holistic Management for the past 3 decades. You can read some of their Success Stories to learn how Holistic Management has changed their lives and impacted their land.
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