As all farmers and ranchers know, adaptation is key to success, so this year the Grow the Growers Holistic Management training was not taught in-person but virtually due to the COVID-19 restrictions. This training is a partnership between HMI, the Bernalillo County Open Space and New Mexico State University (NMSU) Extension. The goal is to provide training in holistic goal setting, decision testing, holistic financial planning, marketing and business planning and holistic cropping planning to the interns participating in the Grow the Growers Program at the Gutierrez Hubbell House in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico. As in former years, Holistic Management International facilitated three 2-day intensive courses for six of the Grow the Growers Program first year interns.
Jeff Goebel, a Professional Certified Educator with HMI, taught the introduction module April 7 and 9, 2020. 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 experimented with their ability to observe, understand and make decisions based on what they can control. Participants were more talkative than most years which brought about broad conversations of the potential implementations of holistic management practices in farming and ranching, in family situations, in policy and government and in community development. The group reviewed last year’s holistic goal and engaged in a conversation about their values and hopes for this year. The participants 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 not only work with nature and increase productivity but to work together in a group, team or community environment.
On September 1 & 2, Certified Educator Tony McQuail led the participants through the Holistic Cropping Planning Module focusing on the big picture of ecosystem processes and also dialing into the processes at play on the Gutierrez Hubbell House property. 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. Tony went over the crop plan and all the steps to creating it while offering personal experiences and insights into managing ecosystem processes, crop rotation and sequencing, and biological monitoring techniques. The 2-day 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.
HMI’s Executive Director and long time Certified Educator, Dr. Ann Adams facilitated the final session June 8 and 10, 2020. 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.
Because of current social distancing requirements this course was taught virtually via webinar. We really appreciate all the participants’ patience with this adaptation of our usual in-person training and all the Certified Educators who facilitated the trainings are eager to come out and check out your projects in person someday soon.
Key Outcomes from Program (percentage of participants):
|Overall satisfaction with all three courses||100%|
|Would you recommend this course to others?||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 identify healthy soil||100%|
|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 develop SMART goals||100%|
|Increased ability to define your target market||100%|
|Increased ability to develop a business plan for your farm/ranch||100%|
|Increased ability to improve key resource concerns||100%|
|Increased ability to get the profit you need from your farm||100%|
- What were the most useful things you learned during this course? What was your overall impression?
- “I gained insight into how to use charts in a more effective and meaningful way”
- “In-depth planning is key”
- “That I need to just sit down and get started!”
- “Having a goal is the right place to begin”
- “Very beneficial to me as a farmer and got me thinking about how I want/need to try different mixes of cover crop”
- “Love it. Super helpful and provides great structure for brainstorming and thought processing.”
- “That my greatest resources are the people around me. Also how to really observe, document and manage my cropping.”
- “Cover cropping as a huge strategy in soil fertility and crop yields”