One of the things that we take pride in are the number of our trainees who go on to become sustainable, regenerative producers; and more importantly, are able to not only remain in business, but thrive using Holistic Management. Tricia Park from Creekside Meadows Farm is one of our success stories.
Tricia got into farming somewhat by accident, when she and her husband Matt purchased a 26 acre property with a barn that they converted to a house for their family. Not wanting to have to mow the grass themselves they bought a few cows to do the job. Soon, some fencing followed along with 12 baby chicks. It wasn’t long after that Tricia had more eggs than she and her family could consume and she started selling them. As they began butchering the cows and selling the meat, everyone remarked on how the meat tasted so much better than what they bought at the supermarket, so Tricia increased the cows on her property, added on pigs, turkeys and meat chickens and began selling the meat as well. Unfortunately, Tricia had no idea what her actual production costs were or how much she should charge for her products. “Our refrigerators and freezers were full, we were selling all we could produce, but there was no cash,” says Tricia.
In the meantime, Tricia started working with HMI Certified Educator, Phil Metzger, who helped her begin looking at her farm holistically. Tricia soon realized that her egg operation was not really viable, so she got rid of the Laying Hens and began to focus on the beef, meat chicken, turkey and pork operations, which would require more land, which convinced them to put their farm up for sale, while Tricia enrolled in HMI’s Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast program to get further training and started planning for a new, bigger farm.
“The program validated what we had been thinking. It really lit a fire for me. Making a living farming is not just a pipe dream,” says Tricia. Holistic Financial planning was very important for Tricia. “It helped me categorize things and allowed me to realize we didn’t really need some of the expenses we had,” she says. “Without this program, we would not have had the confidence to buy this larger farm.”
Holistic land planning guided Tricia and her husband in finding their new farm. She evaluated flooding history, infrastructure, and soil condition, subsequently purchasing a 150-acre farm with less than ideal soil conditions because she knew she could repair the land with proper grazing techniques. “When we bought the farm we had 90% bare ground; 16 months later, we have reduced the bare ground to 20%,” says Tricia. “We used to have to buy hay, now we make our own. All this occurred during a drought year. Everybody looks at me oddly because I’m always looking down in the dirt”.
Tricia continues to expand her cow operation, using Holistic Management testing questions to evaluate new enterprises, including adding sheep, agri-tourism, and veggies. Her son Cameron is now involved in farm operations as well.
We congratulate Tricia, Matt, and Cameron Park on their continued success. Read more about Springside Meadows Farm here.