HMI successfully completed the Whole Farm/Ranch Land Management Series focused on Mitigating Drought in California at the TomKat Ranch in Pescadero, California during September and October 2015. These workshops focused on the land management aspects of Holistic Management, including holistic decision-making, biological monitoring, grazing planning and land planning with special emphasis on how to prepare for and manage resources through drought. Richard King, a Holistic Management Certified Educator in Petaluma, California was the primary instructor and has raised beef cattle since 1991 using the Holistic Decision-Making and Planning Framework.
The class included a total of 30 people that manage land from the smallest operation to over 30,000 acres. Everyone learned a great deal from each other’s questions and experiences. Several of the TomKat Ranch employees also learned more about managing holistically at the workshops and shared how Holistic Management was being learned and practiced at the host TomKat Ranch.
Several guest speakers were also utilized. Christine Su introduced her PastureMap web-based application designed to help land managers more easily use a GPS referenced maps, monitoring information, and notes. Another guest and sponsor of this series, Noah Small of Pacific Organics, assists people with learning how to correctly use the Yeoman’s Plow and various mechanical parts that can be adjusted to meet the land managers needs. Finally, Doniga Markegard kindly allowed the entire class visit one of her nearby ranches and learn how Markegard Family Ranch is learning and practicing Holistic Management.
Although aspects of financial and business planning were addressed, participants quickly saw the benefits of next learning how to do holistic financial and business planning. Providing a series of workshops to learn many aspects of the Holistic Management framework was especially helpful to the participants. Unlike attending an occasional workshop focused on a particular topic or attending one very long workshop that included all aspects of the framework, having this 6-day series of land management workshops allowed participants to:
- experience the important connections between all the land management topics involved in effectively managing a whole
- immediately begin practicing planning and decision-making between workshops one step at a time
- build and reinforce their learning by focusing on specific topics without losing sight of the whole they manage and how they want their lives in that whole to be
- review key ideas and processes session after session so that participants understood, integrated, and began comfortably applying what they were learning on their own land
- not be overwhelmed by ‘too much to learn’ all at once
- provide time between workshops to strengthen what they had just learned and also prepare for the upcoming workshop.
HMI also provides binders, handouts, and materials in online which provided very good introductions and references to the decision-making and land management topics. Participants seemed very pleased with the flow of the workshop series and had opportunity to ask many questions. Evaluations from participants after each workshop clearly reflected their high satisfaction with the course. One participant has established a Facebook connection restricted to all the class participants, so that everyone in the class is comfortable sharing and learning and will have the opportunity to plan future gatherings.
To learn more about more HMI programming, visit our Training Programs page.
|Are you more confident in your ability to assess forage volume for grazing planning as a result of this course?||83%|
|Are you more confident in your ability to assess recovery periods?||100%|
|Are you more confident in your ability to determine the number of animals your land can support for grazing?||100%|
|Are you more confident in your ability to monitor ecosystem health on your farm as a result of this course?||88%|
|Do you intend to change any management practices/apply ideas you learned as a result of this event?||100%|
|Do you intend to create a grazing plan for your livestock as a result of this workshop?||88%|
|Did you gain knowledge of the difference between a growing season plan and a non-growing season plan?||100%|
|Did you gain knowledge of the indicators of a healthy farm/ranch ecosystem:||81%|
|Are you more confident in your ability to make complex decisions on your farm/ranch as a result of today's class?||100%|
|Are you more confident in your ability to prioritize land or infrastructure improvements on your farm?||100%|
|Do you intend to conduct biological monitoring on your farm/ranch as a result of this course?||100%|
|Do you intend to complete or modify a written land plan as a result of today's session?||69%|
|Do you intend to design strategies that can build resilient, diversified farms?||93%|
|Overall satisfaction of the course:||100%|
Here’s what some of the participants had to say:
“This course has helped me learn how to better produce by learning how to choose the right animals, how to build networks, and the importance of planning.”
“I liked learning about brainstorming & consensus-building technique.”
“Great group exercises.”
“The most important thing I learned was that dividing fields improves productivity.”
“Land planning is a long process…be patient!”
“The most useful things I learned were how to estimate ADA visually and how to complete grazing plan chart.”
“I learned how to read the landscape and apply that understanding to grazing planning.”
“I will change management practices so I never leave bare soil.”
“This course has helped me be a more knowledgeable, capable, and connected producer.”
“This course has helped me produce more sustainably.”
“I learned everything makes up whole. Decision are complex but there are tools to simplify them. Never disregard a tool from tool box.”
“This course helped me learn how to approach people who may be resistant to learning about improving the ecology on their land.”
“This course helped me be aware of my blind spots and my weakest links.”
“This course gave me a place to start!”
“This course gave me a framework for avoiding blind spots, the applicability of Holistic Management for everything in life and much, much more.”