For the third year in a row HMI has been pleased to partner with the Bernalillo County Open Space and New Mexico State University (NMSU) Extension to provide Holistic Management training for The Grow the Growers Program, a comprehensive farm training and business acceleration initiative designed to attract new and emerging farmers into professional food production. The program participants manage the farm at the Gutierrez-Hubbell House in Albuquerque’s South Valley. The 2019 group is made up of five first-year interns, three second-year interns and seven third-year interns. The first-years work together on one plot of land implementing their newly learned regenerative agriculture techniques, while the second and third-years farm their own plots for market and La Cosecha, a local CSA program where 65% of families receiving weekly food shares do so at subsidized rates.
Holistic Management International facilitated three 2-day intensive courses for the Grow the Growers Program participants; Introduction to Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning, Holistic Cropping Planning, and Holistic Financial Planning/Marketing and Business Planning.
Jeff Goebel, a Professional Certified Educator with HMI, taught the introduction module April 9 and 11, 2019. This course focused on key Holistic Management planning concepts and principles to help participants manage their farm/ranch for the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial sustainability) and more effectively manage resources. Participants were excited to learn how to improve their ability to observe, understand, and make decisions based on what they can control. Jeff began the course by sharing his personal story with Holistic Management and tied that into the principles and practices. The group was eager to learn more about soil health and how to improve the health of their land. When learning how to create a holistic goal they dug deep into values identification and were able to recognize a number of common values throughout the group. The class learned about on-farm decision testing and practiced with a decision case example. Through these new skills participants now have the knowledge and tools to improve their ability to work with nature and to increase productivity.
On September 3 and 5, 2019, HMI educator Sarah Williford taught the Holistic Cropping Planning Module. During this session the participants received the necessary curriculum to begin a successful holistic crop plan. They began with a review of their Whole Farm Resource Inventory and Holistic Goal and talked about how a holistic crop plan is directly related to and reliant on both of these foundational documents. Sarah also shared the benefits of creating a holistic crop plan.
Sarah Williford is a Certified Educator trainee that taught the course remotely from her farm in New York while HMI Program Manager Stephanie Von Ancken facilitated the session. The participants in Albuquerque were able to interact with her in real time through video conferencing. When the participants went outside to draw a map of their plots Sarah was able to accompany them and get a virtual tour of the land!
Key learning points and outcomes of the workshop were:
- Key crop planning principles and guidelines
- Ecosystem processes & soil facts
- Tools for Managing Ecosystem Processes
- Farm Ecosystem Strategies
- Crop Rotation and Sequencing
- How to develop your Holistic Crop Plan in 4 steps
- Bio-monitoring techniques and General Monitoring of actions taken
Along with the lecture, there were six activities that the participants completed to help guide them through the first four steps of creating a holistic crop plan.
The activities and entire workshop resulted in each participant:
- Creating statements for their Holistic Goal that refers to soil health, ecosystem processes or land management
- Creating a Farm/Garden Resource Inventory
- Creating a field map
- Identifying management priorities in the context of their Holistic Goal and selecting management strategies and practices to address the root cause of the management priorities selected.
The final session, on October 15 and 17, 2019, was focused on Holistic Marketing and Business Planning. HMI’s Executive Director and Professional Certified Educator, Ann Adams, was the trainer for this two-day program. The first day was focused on working through the Holistic Financial Planning process and particularly focusing on numerous examples of how to develop a gross profit analysis for a variety of enterprises to determine levels of profitability. Combined with using the Holistic Management decision testing, this process has helped many producers determine the most appropriate enterprise mixes for their farms. Many of the program participants are required to develop proposals for their use of field space in this incubator farm, so this course was timely in helping them develop their proposals. They also discussed how they could set up effective record-keeping systems.
The second day focused on marketing and business planning principles and practices, building off of the financial information that participants had developed from the previous session. In particular, participants worked through developing an elevator speech for their business as well as determining SMART goals for marketing, infrastructure development, and business systems.
Participants said they found the templates for business, marketing, and financial planning very helpful in getting them prepared to take their business to the next level.
Key Outcomes from Program (percentage of participants):
|Overall satisfaction with all three courses||100%|
|Intent to change management practices as a result of this training||100%|
|More confident in your ability to make complex decision on your farm/ranch||100%|
|Increased ability to create a whole farm goal||100%|
|Increased ability to assess ecosystem health||100%|
|Increased ability to begin a crop plan||100%|
|Increased ability to identify healthy soil||80%|
|Increased ability to increase your farm’s net worth||100%|
|Increased ability to write a SWOT analysis for your business/enterprises||100%|
|Increased ability to determine viable profitable enterprises on your farm/ranch||100%|
|Increased ability to develop SMART goals||100%|
|Increased ability to determine the weak link in a farm enterprise||100%|
|Increased ability to determine your farms projected revenue||100%|
|Increased ability to access and address risk in your business||100%|
|Increased ability to determine your farms net worth||100%|
|Increased ability to develop a business plan for your farm/ranch||100%|
|Increased ability to define your target market||100%|
|Increased ability to effectively promote your product/service||100%|
|Increased ability to improve key resource concerns||100%|
|Increased ability to get the profit you need from your farm||100%|
- What did you like best about this training program?
- The handouts and powerpoint presentations
- The financial planning session
- I gained the knowledge I need to write my proposal
- The effectiveness of the holistic business planning. Making decisions to help the farm out in business and focusing on healthy soil.
- What was your greatest learning experience in this training program?
- The discussions with the group
- Talking about business and marketing
- Values and Holistic Goal
- Long and short term goals and objectives, and writing a business plan
- What will you do with what you learned from this program to make you more successful?
- Implement the methods used and learn more about marketing and business planning
- I look forward to applying what I learned about regenerative practices as well as business and crop planning, as a large over-view this program has awesome information which is easily grasped and can be applied reasonably for any sort of operation.
- To be very secure as a farmer and better planning skills for my own farm
- Put everything to work!
- Better conformity to my farm & land, so that I may produce more produce & better quality food.
- Further comments:
- The class covered many techniques, topics and systems that were new to me and will be very beneficial in the future.
- This program was amazing for a start up farmer like myself because it gave me a lot of tools to use in every aspect of the farm and business side of it as well. Thank you.
- I want to learn more about HMI workshop in the future increasing knowledge related to organic agriculture and livestock too
Thank you to the Thornburg Foundation for making this program possible.
And thank you to the Bernalillo County Open Space and NMSU Extension as well as all the Grow the Growers 2019 interns who are working to create a more regenerative local foodshed.