In early April 2023 Certified Educator, Phil Metzger and Programs Manager, Marie von Ancken traveled to Alabama to facilitate an in-person Holistic Financial Planning workshop in collaboration with the Small Farms Research Center at Alabama A&M University’s 2023 Small Farms Conference.
This annual conference convenes small farmers, landowners, agribusinesses, community gardeners, extension agents, and concerned citizens for five days of pre-conference workshops and plenary sessions at the conference. This year 175 folks from Alabama and Mississippi attended.
34 of those attendees participated in a two-day pre-conference workshop led by Phil Metzger at the Mobile, Alabama Extension Office. It was wonderful to finally work together in person after years of rescheduling and postponing due to COVID. Of the 34 attendees, 12 self identified as farmers, 1 rancher, 5 farm/ranch employees, 22 gardeners, 8 educators, 2 researchers, 2 ag/conservation non profit employees, and 6 conscious consumers. (Folks were allowed to choose more than one options)
Marie led the group through some fun introductions where participants were invited to share something they are excited about and something they find challenging in farming/ranching. Folks mentioned their apprehension in not knowing how to get started, finding community support/resources and general decision making. They were excited about being able to provide nutritious food for themselves and their community, connecting with the land, and learning how to turn what they like doing into a business. Financial planning fell into both categories of excitement and challenge.
Over the two days, Phil took the group through the nine steps of Holistic Financial Planning with lectures and interactive small group work. The majority of the participants had known each other for years so it was a very intimate and talkative group which was helpful when it came to tackling some of the more intimidating parts of financial planning.
- Understanding the difference between financial planning, managing, and accounting and who is responsible for these activities on your management team
- Benefits of a holistic, value-based approach to finances
- Using your whole farm or ranch goal to improve your financial decision-making
- Prioritizing expenses to increase your farm/ranch investment strategies
- Planning for profit
- Writing plans to maximize profitability
- Increasing creativity in planning and marketing for more profit
- Determine current net worth and projected net worth at year-end to analyze the effectiveness of financial investments
- Develop enterprise analysis for each enterprise (up to 3 enterprises) to move from a production focus to a profit focus
- Be able to analyze expenses and investment allocation strategies so you can better determine the return on investment (up to 3 investments)
Participants successfully completed the planned profit worksheet, the gross profit analysis worksheet, practiced sorting expenses and determining logjam vs. financial weak link vs. adverse factors, and completed the financial monitoring worksheet.
Marie reflected on the training,
you know Phil’s doing something right when folks are laughing while trying to figure out their gross profit analysis…this was a super wonderful cohort and Phil and I truly enjoyed finally meeting everyone in-person. I am excited to continue working together in the future, whatever that looks like”.
We will be collaborating with Alabama A&M again for future trainings in the region!
The group reported the following in their evaluations:
|Knowledge/Behavior and Confidence Increase||% Increase|
|What was your overall satisfaction with this workshop?||100%|
|Your ability to determine your farm’s rough net worth||71%|
|How to increase your farm’s net worth||91%|
|Determining profitable viable enterprises for your farm||91%|
|Identifying log jams & adverse factors on your farm||94%|
|Would you recommend this training to others?||100%|
What are the most useful things you learned at this training?
Annual review, prioritizing expenses & monitoring for results More understanding on how to finance your income How to plan my finances The importance of good record keeping. The importance of holistic financial planning. How to plan, sort & prioritize expenses. How to manage your farm expenses. How to make a profit when you are on a fixed income. That I can assign a value to product I give away/donate Don’t let log jams stop you! Planned Profit - Income - Expenses = Profit Identifying the weak link and investing in it to fix it, not just eliminating it. I think this reduces start over! It's very important to have a good goal and stick with it. Plan Income and Plan profit Examples & class interactions were really helpful The importance of financial planning and how to organize and prioritize my financial planning Holistic Goal planning Identifying what problem or problems to address first and correcting as soon as possible
What was your overall impression of the workshop?
The class was very informative! The class was great! Phil & Marie were great! Loved it all. Excellent Course, thank you!
The group manages/influences 1654 acres in Alabama/Mississippi.
Thank you to all the participants who joined us in Mobile. It was a joy to get to know you and work through the Holistic Financial Planning materials with you. We hope you take what you’ve learned and begin implementing it in your operation. As we mentioned over and over again during the training, once you’re a student of Phil’s you are a student for life, so always feel free to reach out with any questions you may have! And please continue to send us progress pics as you grow!
And a huge thank you goes out to E’licia Chavarest for making this all possible. To the hours of preparation and planning and ultimately for being an incredible host to Phil, Marie and all the participants! We are so grateful to have you in our network. Cheers to future collaborations! YOU ROCK!
Marie stuck around to attend the conference and network for the next few days. Read more about her experience here.