HMI Beginning Farmer Program Makes a Difference—
Guest Blog By C.D. Pounds
The 2013-14 Beginning Women Farmer program in Texas was the beginning of an empowering journey for myself and my family. I was excited to find that HMI was a community of like-minded folks from all over the world. When we attend Open Gates or conferences, we meet friendly people who are blazing new trails and expanding their horizons. The HMI training was intense and gave me appropriate tools to produce goals, focus on land, grazing and financial planning and test decisions. I am so grateful for the instructors (Peggy Sechrist, Peggy Cole and Peggy Maddox) and staff (Ann Adams and the crew in Albuquerque) for this immense opportunity.
Bobby, my husband, partnered right along with me from the beginning. Together, we are witnessing significant improvements at Triple Cross Farm: Soil health has increased with multi-species in our pastures allowing us to winter graze our cattle with little or no supplemental hay. Prior to this, we purchased 100-150 bales each winter.
We do soil tests every 6-12 months. Through the process of planned grazing and the knowledge I gained from Betsy Ross on the application of compost teas and minerals, we improved aggregation in our sandy loam soil—preventing leaching of nutrients and promoting the biological function of the soil ecosystem. When we get heavy rainfall here in East Texas our neighbors suffer from flooding and run off while we retain our water. It makes you want to go out and do a happy dance! Soil organic matter increased from 2.5% to 3.5%. Mother Nature wants to feed everyone and, because of our practices, we are seeing deer, bats and a host of other birds I have not yet identified.
The decision to make our farm an event venue would have never occurred without the marketing and business planning I learned, and the encouragement from Pam Mitchell and Peggy Cole. Businesses, in general, focus on their bottom line. However, what I appreciate about HMI is the triple bottom line; Environmental, Financial and Social. We have become so aware of the impact of our regenerative practices and the practices of those around us on the environment. Socially, we are able to share our experiences and teach new ideas to our neighbors and community. Let’s face it, there is opposition to our beliefs, but they are watching what you are doing; actions speak louder than words. Some of our neighbors have quit using Roundup® on their fence lines and are using apple cider vinegar instead. We experienced an increase in net profit each year since the implementation of planning for profit. This fast- paced year, the increase is over 85% on the farm and even more in our construction business.
As a Certified Educator, I am now a part of training up the next generation of farmers and ranchers. It’s exciting to see a larger percentage of young ladies and gentlemen in HMI’s Beginning Farmer classes. It makes me think of Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Teaching deepens my understanding every year. Part of my Holistic Goal in 2013 included using our farm as a teaching facility and conference center. Little did I know when I signed up for the first class in 2013 that I would become a Certified Educator. This has been one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. Several weeks ago we were proud to host the second Beginning Farmer class at our farm!! The beauty of HMI is that it is a program that gives you the tools to use to create “what works for you.” The feedback loop, ensures you are on the right track pointing you toward your Holistic Goal.
Supporting HMI with our time and finances is giving back to a worthy organization. I know there is so much that goes on behind the scenes to run an organization like this that we never see. Together donating some of our finances and volunteering our time, we can get the job done.
To learn more about how you can invest in healthy land and thriving, visit HMI’s Give page.
Individualized Distance Learning Course in Holistic Grazing Planning
Do you want to increase forage production?
Would you like a grazing process that helps you better manage your animals?
Are you ready to heal the landscape and improve wildlife habitat with livestock?
In this course you will learn the key grazing planning principles and practices for improving land health and productivity. You will learn the steps to this simple approach to grazing planning so that you can better analyze and address critical grazing considerations, as well as determine forage inventory, animal needs, and grazing and recovery periods.
This course begins when you sign up and is 100% one-on-one learning with a Holistic Management Certified Educator.