The Paicines Ranch in California graciously hosted HMI’s series of Whole Farm/Ranch Land Management workshops for those interested in learning how to manage land, people, and money, holistically. Training took place starting in March through April of 2017. The 15 Participants included a diverse array of ranchers, farmers, and a few who support agriculture, or would like to begin managing land themselves! Grant funding from The Christiano Family Fund helped keep the costs of those six days of training much more affordable.
The classes were taught by HMI Certified Educator Richard King. Participants learned how to describe a whole they manage, develop a holistic goal/context under which to manage it, and then begin to test/check decisions with that in mind. Richard required everyone to submit their draft work to make sure they had understood the principles and how to begin putting on paper the resources they manage and the life they wanted to live. Richard emphasized that ‘practicing managing holistically’ means ‘just do it’, because nobody manages complexity perfectly. On the other hand, we can all manage much better with the holistic management framework. And our skills improve over time.
The ecosystem process and biological monitoring session emphasized how nature works and how to read the land. The land tells us a clear story if we know what indicators to observe and how to easily monitor them. The group was introduced to the ‘Rancher-to-Rancher’ method of monitoring change, using a simple transect with a few plots that can be revisited and re-photographed to record changes in soil surface cover, functional species diversity, and biological decay. The simple data sheets (or app) are complimented with two photos and the qualitative grading of ecosystem processes in that quadrant. (See www.soilcarboncoalition.org)
During the planned grazing workshop everyone in the class used a planning control chart to develop a growing season plan for a fairly complex ranch. Why plant recovery is planned first became apparent, why those plant recovery periods change during the growing season and change the grazing periods became apparent, and how to understand the math calculations became clear. Everyone particularly enjoyed the field exercises of calculating animal days per acre and the utility and power of that utilitarian tool.
The long-term ideal land plan workshop was fun too, particularly when helping a rancher in the class brainstorm possible infrastructure layouts. And at the end of the workshop, the common closing response from participants was ‘we need to keep getting together, because we learn so much from each other.’ Although this HMI course series had just been completed until HMI’s holistic financial/business planning occurs this fall, the group wanted to continue meeting. A day at three different ranches in June, July, and August was immediately planned before class adjourned!!!
HMI would like to thank The Christiano Family Fund for providing funding for this program. We’d also like to thank Paicines Ranch owner Sallie Calhoun, Paicines Ranch Staff, including Mary Rowen, Elaine Patarini, and Kelly Mulville, TomKat Ranch and Educational Foundation, Wendy Millet, San Benito Working Landscapes Group, Sonoma Resource Conservation District and Christine Kuehn, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District and Brittany Jensen, Richard King, HM Certified Educator, and Doniga Markegard, HMI Certified Educator in Training.
Some of the results of this Whole Farm/Ranch Land Management Training are as follows:
- Increased ability to assess recovery periods 100%
- Increased ability to assess forage quantity 100%
- Intend to create or modify a written grazing plan 100%
- Intend to create or modify a written whole farm plan 100%
- Intend to use biological monitoring on farm/ranch 100%
- Increased ability to make complex decisions on farm/ranch 100%
- Increased confidence in creating a written whole farm plan 100%
- Increased ability to monitor farm/ranch ecosystem health
- Overall course satisfaction 100%
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Holistic Management International’s mission is to educate people in regenerative agriculture for healthy land and thriving communities.
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.
As a non-profit organization, HMI is always grateful for donations in support of our mission. You can help regenerate land for healthy food and healthy lives with many giving options including scholarships for farmer/rancher training. Learn more here.