Krista Raymond has operated Five Sprouts Family Farm with her husband Roger and their five children for nine years in Alexandria, Ohio. They raise a variety of pastured meats, which they sell at the local farmers’ market and direct to consumers online. Krista is also a certified Life and Health Coach and uses the farm to help educate customers on the benefits of local small farms and the health benefits of pasture-raised meats. Over the past year, however, Krista felt like the farm was running them, and it was no longer something that brought them joy. She was spending 60-80 hours/week working on the farm, and her husband would come home from his day job and help in the evenings. They spent many days chasing the sun down and felt they were always going from putting out one fire to another.
“Our quality of life had all but vanished, and the farm kept us from important events with our family and friends. We were running ragged and ready to walk away”, Krista says.
Krista had heard about Holistic Management several years ago and purchased the book and the textbook but couldn’t work through it independently. Without context, It seemed too dry, geared towards larger farms/ranches, and she couldn’t understand how it related to their small farm operation. Then at the 2023 OEFFA Conference, she attended HMI’s Executive Director Wayne Knight’s winter workshop, and the light bulb went off.
“The HMI approach spoke so much to me during Wayne’s presentation at the OEFFA conference. The practices and philosophy felt familiar—concepts like root cause, circle of influence, starting with the end in mind, and the wheel of life tool were all familiar to me from my previous training as a Life and Health Coach. I could finally see how it all fit together. I left the conference on sensory overload,” says Krista.
Krista then applied for a scholarship to HMI’s 6-Day Regen Ag School at the Leo Ranch in Texas. She knew she had too many enterprises she was trying to manage. With what she had learned at the workshop, she saw that this was a better decision-making platform to help her evaluate what enterprises were successful and which ones could be streamlined or eliminated. She wanted to learn more about how to apply the concepts she had been introduced to.
“After nine years, I was struggling to keep going, burnt out, and longing for something more, a new direction,” says Krista.
Krista dug deep at the Regen Ag School and followed up with HMI’s Online Grazing Planning Course to better build and implement a Grazing Plan for her farm. The timing was perfect as she met with her local NRCS agent to create her prescribed grazing plan to receive funds for cross-pasture fencing and improving their water system.
“I felt like the Grazing Course allowed me to hold an intelligent conversation with the NRCS agent. We used HMI’s Grazing Chart to develop the plan and talk about options for planting some new grass species as well. It felt empowering to be able to have that knowledge and confidence to participate in that conversation,” says Krista.
“We’ve been pushing production for the last couple of years on our 14 acres, which has depleted the animals and the land. It was great to talk to Wayne at the OEFFA conference, hear his message and now understand the framework, we now feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“It’s been great to be able to sit down with my husband and work on our holistic goal and think about what we want to accomplish. It feels refreshing. I now know I’ve been working on this production model too hard. I was trying to be Joel Salatin and not doing any of my enterprises successfully. It was draining physically and financially. Learning about Holistic Management has been a good mindset change. If we can make our business more self-sufficient, we can take more personal time from the farm to do things we love, like camping with our children. We are focusing on making our enterprises more efficient and downsizing or eliminating some all together so we can focus on improving our quality of life.”
Krista feels that the scholarships she received from HMI has given her an opportunity to learn a new framework and better understanding of how all the different parts of her life she is trying to manage influence each other. “I can talk to people all day about the benefits and need for healthy diets, but they need to understand the need for healthy finances to do that as well, if they can’t afford quality food that’s just added stress.” says Krista. “It’s a whole system, it all comes together.”
“In our area, there is a division between commercial and small farmers. There are few resources for small farmers, even within NRCS. I want to be a liaison and help other small producers make more efficiencies for their businesses so they can succeed as well. I talk to many fellow small producers at our local farmers markets and many feel just like we did, burnt out and drowning because the farm runs them. I hope to be a beacon for them to learn there is hope and a better framework for them to succeed.”
Scholarship funding support comes from the L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation.