The day was overcast, with rain threatening, but over 20 people from varied backgrounds showed up to participate in HMI’s Open Gate event, which took place at Bean Hollow Grassfed in Flint Hill, Va. After a short welcome and a presentation by HMI Certified Educator Ben Bartlett entitled “Why Holistic Management is so Valuable to Me,” participants had the opportunity to introduce themselves, with experienced farmers and ranchers and new producers present, along with representatives from non-profits from nearby Washington D.C. as well as environmental and conservation groups.
Next, Mike Sands, co-owner and manager of Bean Hollow Grassfed, provided a general background of the Bean Hollow operations, followed by a very informative and enjoyable pasture walk. Bean Hollow is primarily a pasture lambing sheep operation, but Mike also runs a few cattle, chickens and hogs for the family. Mike’s goal is to graze year around and in just three years of Holistic Grazing Management, has reduced winter feeding to only 65 days. He divides his paddocks into smaller 1-to 4-day grazing units with 2 poly wires to kept things simple and low cost. Mike has seen a significant increase in diversity including warm season grasses not seen before.
The afternoon activities began with a short presentation on gross profit analysis by Ben Bartlett, using his farm as an example. Ben currently has a sheep operation in Michigan and looked at the impact of switching to a beef cow-calf operation. Mike and Ben then demonstrated various fencing and watering tools. The participants had a lot of questions on how this new technology could work on their farm and where to purchase supplies. The group then made the short trip to a near-by cattle pasture that is utilizing a solar powered pump to provide water from an excluded river. This project was sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
The day wrapped up with a short discussion on the possibility of future pasture walks to continue the idea and information exchange. The rain held off until the end of the day but never dampened the spirited conversation.
Thank you to the generous support of our Funder for helping to make this day possible:Thank you to our Sponsors.
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