The Whole Farm Planning in the Northeast program began in 2017. A NE SARE-funded program, we’ve now entered our second year!
CADE (Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship) and HMI (Holistic Management International) have been collaborating to make this an extremely valuable program for Technical Ag Service providers of the Northeast. Once approved, we began getting the word out about the program in June of 2017, and later accepted 29 students into the program last fall. Participants are a mix of Technical Ag Service Providers from Maine to West Virginia, folks from Ag extension agencies, NRCS and non-profit organizations.
In Dec. 2017 we had a 2.5 day residency program taught by HMI Certified Educator Phil Metzger and Sarah Williford. Participants learned how to work with farmers to create a Whole Farm Resource Inventory and a Holistic Goal along with how to use the holistic management decision making framework including testing decisions using the testing matrix. In March,we had a series of great online Holistic Land Planning classes with HMI Certified Educator Larry Dyer.
As part of the program, participants are currently working with 3 to 6 farmers (with a goal of 5) and are sharing challenges and best practices on our monthly group video calls. The calls have also been key in providing guidance on program logistics, timelines and communications for the technical service providers to with their farmers.
The participants are doing great, they understand the ebb and flow of farm life and the busyness of the farm season. Participants have until December 2018 to complete a Whole Farm Resource Inventory, Holistic Goal, practice Testing Decisions, and Creating a Holistic Land Plan with their farmers. On a side note, it’s so important to build trust with the farmers through the Whole Farm Planning Process. Just listening and being understanding of the issues they face is vital, as is good communication and consistent follow-up. Sharing our own struggles with the farmers helps.
Finally, we’re happy to report that we now have mentors to work with 6-8 participants one on one and in small groups. Welcome to the team HMI Certified Educators Larry Dyer, Elizabeth Marks, Seth Wilner and Erica Frenay! Our program is so benefited by your participation!
A big Thank You goes out to our collaborator, CADE, and to NE SARE for funding the program.