by Stephanie von Ancken
In March, HMI completed Whole Farm/Ranch training with farmers from the Albuquerque South Valley who are members of the Agricultura Network (ACN).
Starting in Spring of 2015, seventeen ACN farmers participated in Holistic Management International’s Whole Farm/Ranch Business Planning series evening classes with HMI Certified Educator, Kathy Harris. This March they convened again for two Saturday sessions focusing on Whole Farm/Ranch Land Management. During this course participants learn about and experience holistic goal setting, on-farm decision testing, ecosystem processes, biological monitoring, crop planning and land planning.
Speakeasy Farms hosted the first session at their one-acre operation. The day started out inside the beautiful and colorful living room of farm owner Jeff Warren where the participants learned about the value of organic matter in soil and the benefits of biodiversity and covered soil. The group then headed outside to take a look at the soil and followed Kathy through holistic biological monitoring techniques.
The second session was at the Baca Family Connection where Gloria Baca, her husband John and son Alfonso are experimenting with their new hoop houses. Participants learned about the value of long-term planning, the benefits of holistic crop planning and about ways to improve the health of the ecosystem processes on their land. Good discussion was had about the local ecology and Kathy used the recent extreme windstorms the South Valley has been experiencing to segue into discussion about how to plan your land to alleviate wind concerns. After lunch from Pop Fizz, a locally-owned restaurant, NRCS set up a rainwater simulator which demonstrated how the holistic management practices of no-till farming, cover crops and planned grazing benefit soil health and improve the water cycle on cropland and rangeland.
Both sessions were successful and sunny experiences for all! Many of the participants have already started making positive changes on their land. One said he ordered cover crop seeds the very next day!
The 9 participants that completed post-program surveys managed 28.5 acres combined. There was a 100% satisfaction rating with the course and there was interest expressed in learning more about Holistic Management.
In the 2010 Census the Albuquerque South Valley was noted as having 25.9% of its population below the poverty line. Since 2012 ACN has been working to provide fresh produce to the low-income community through their CSA program, La Cosecha. In 2015, ACN farmers provided more than 200 families with weekly bags of fresh produce.
Certified Educator Kathy Harris and Program Assistant Stephanie von Ancken thoroughly enjoyed working with and getting to know the local producers of such a worthy project. La Cosecha is a Spanish word that means ‘the harvest’ or ‘the gathering of’ making it an appropriate name for this project; harvesting nutritious food while gathering together the community.
|Outcomes||% of participants|
|Do you intend to complete or modify a written land plan as a result of today’s session?||100%|
|Your ability to improve land health using holistic crop planning?||88%|
|Increased ability in creating a whole farm/ranch goal?||100%|
|More confident in your ability to make complex decisions on your farm as a result of today’s class||100%|
|Increased ability to monitor your farm’s/ranch’s ecosystem health||70%|
|Intend to change management practices as a result of today?||100%|
|Increased knowledge of design strategies that can build resilient, diversified farms||100%|
|Do you intend to conduct biological monitoring on your farm/ranch as a result of today’s session?||100%|
Thank you to the the McCune Charitable Foundation and the Thornburg Foundation for funding this training, and to Speakeasy Gardens and Baca Family Connection for hosting the field days.