When Allyson was in college, her passion for food politics got her interested in sustainable agriculture. This passion led to a dream of one day having her own farm. As an active learner, she went to work on various farms in the U.S and Italy, where she learned both organic and conventional farming techniques. “I collected a lot of ideas and experiences, always with the dream of one day having my own farm,” says Allyson.
“At first, I had a utopian vision of my farm, but I knew I needed to have a profitable business growing and raising products I was comfortable with,” Allyson says. So in pursuit of that dream, Allyson left her farm management job and enrolled in HMI’s Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast program to strengthen the skills she needed to start her own farm.
Allyson was primarily drawn to the program because it would help her develop a farm business plan, but she walked away with so much more. “After the first class, everything clicked for me. Holistic Management helps me communicate my ideas to others, to prioritize, to schedule, and to figure out how to balance my diverse farm business. I’m not there yet, but practicing Holistic Management helps me to keep everything in focus. I can’t speak highly enough about the program.”
The training HMI provided Allyson helped give her the skills and confidence to negotiate and buy her own farm. “When I found this property, the land was in need. It wasn’t being farmed and it was patchy, but it was near my family and that was most important. Now the land is lush and green well into October. Since buying the land, I’ve done a lot of planned grazing. I’ve had 20 pigs move through. Last season I raised about 750 meat chickens, and this year I raised almost 1000, plus laying hens. I’ve also got more forage.”
Allyson is well positioned to achieve her ultimate dream farm. She is currently running a profitable enterprise, as a part of her community that supports local families with wholesome veggies, chicken and pork. She’s got an eye to doing more multi-species grazing in the future, but she knows she won’t lose sight of her vision. As Allyson says, “My Holistic Goal is so important. I have it framed in my bathroom as a daily reminder!”
“You can use the Holistic Management tools to develop any farming practice.”