Honey’s Acres Farm Day was a collaboration between HMI and Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) as part of TOFGA’s pre-conference workshop series and is also part of HMI’s Open Gate Learning Series. Thirty-three people attended the pre-conference event which took place on January 12, 2017 at Honey’s Acres Farm, owned by Marston and Carolyn White, in North Central Texas.
First up, HMI’s Program Director, Kathy Harris, introduced Holistic Management and the value of the Holistic Goal; explaining the decision testing process that is designed to create the kind of life you desire.
Honey’s Acres Farm owner Carolyn White shared a timeline of their farm and their Holistic Goal. Attendees were highly interested and engaged as Carolyn told about some of the costly decisions they had made as they started their farm with one milk cow, highlighting some common pitfalls that new farmers face when trying to learn and grow a farm business. Kathy facilitated a short discussion to help participants identify their personal values and begin creating their own Holistic Goal, and shared how having a Holistic Goal to inform decision making can help avoid these kinds of costly mistakes.
Farm co-owner Marston White provided attendees with an example of using the Holistic Management Financial Planning process to evaluate their grassfed beef enterprise. He also shared an interesting market research experiment he did – running a blind taste test on beef with help from a Slow Foods USA chef to help determine which breed of cattle they would choose. Today they have a grassfed herd of 20 Aubrac and Red Devon cattle; both breeds were top winners in the taste test.
Next, Holistic Management Certified Educator Tracy Litle, and trainees Lauren Bradbury and Lauri Celella led small groups using real data from the Honey’s Acres Farm broiler chicken enterprise to look at different options on how to make it more profitable.
After a delicious lunch, which was prepared by local caterer Healthy Habits Meal Prep using Honey’s Acres grassfed beef, attendees took a tour including the farm store and chick brooding area of the barn. Carolyn discussed Honey’s Acres marketing strategy – neighbors feeding neighbors – and Marston talked about developing relationships and future enterprises with area retailers. Attendees also were shown the compost tea brewing equipment, which led to a brief discussion on soil health and the use of compost tea.
Dora Franks, owner of Gentle Giants, talked about training horses, mules, and oxen as draft animals, and did an engaging demo with her pair of Red Devon steers (one which came from Honey’s Acres Farm). Marston continued the tour down the hill to see cattle up close, where they are kept in a winter sacrifice pasture to allow full recovery of the native grass pastures which are strip grazed during the growing season.
Next, Marston and Kathy led a discussion on Linear Measurement and specific identifiers to look for in cattle that indicate health, temperament, and quality grassfed beef.
The day ended with a brief discussion and attendee evaluations. Results were positive and included 100% of the attendees satisfied with the program; 100% would recommend the event to others; and 83% of attendees indicating that they would change management practices.
HMI would like to thank the Dixon Water Foundation for helping to fund this program. We’d also like to thank our collaborators; Honey’s Acres Farm, Carolyn and Marston White, Gentle Giants – and Texas Draft Horse and Mule Association — Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA), Haymarket Feed Store, Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, Healthy Habits Meal Prep, and Healthy Food Systems.