Nina from Banyan View Farm
I recently attended a series of workshops on Holistic Grazing Management that was partly funded through Country Noosa and undertaken by Jason Virtue of Landlife Education. Before the workshops I was working with my partner on our small scale mixed farming enterprise to build a sustainable business that could give me a steady income. My partner is employed off the farm at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Our goal was to develop a working farm on our 75 acres on the Sunshine Coast hinterland. I was developing sections of the farm as single entities and there was no cohesion to the process. I also found I was spreading my time too thin across the multiple parts of the farm, without any free time to re-energise my mind and body.
The workshop opportunity came at a time when I was struggling to focus my energies on the farming business. The first series of workshops touched on the underlying principles of a living ecosystem and how we as part of this system can work with our surrounding environment to meet all of our life goals. One very important part of the holistic management approach to farming is the setting of an overall goal that encompasses all facets of life in context with our business and work place. This process helped me take a step back from my planning process to really assess what it was we (as a partnership) wanted to get out of life and how we organise our farm to sit within the overall picture. This was a very important process for me as it allowed me to consider all aspects of my goals alongside my partners aspirations. Once this process has been completed-the farming part of the equation easily falls into place. The holistic grazing management component of our mixed farm is now being developed for our cattle and small flock of meat sheep. This will give us confidence in knowing how much stock to hold over the season and how to work practically with our variable rainfall. In the past we were very much reactive in this part of the farming business.
I am also using the decision making process learned through the workshops to help me develop and expand the market garden vegetable component of the farm.
We are both academically trained people and have a good understanding of catchment scale processes and soil health but the decision making component of the holistic management approach has taught us how to integrate our environment with our animals and our farming enterprise with life goals that are now a key component of our sustainable farm.
I am very happy to talk in person to future clients of Jason Virtue and Landlife Education.
Sue attended the Holistic Farm Management Course Testimonial – January 2016
I was not sure what to expect when embarking on this course but knew I was at a point where I need a bit of direction in my life and some clearer methods for decision making on the farm.
I was totally unprepared for how enjoyable and helpful I found the course.
Jason is an enthusiastic and personable facilitator. He has a wealth of experience and a total dedication to Holistic Practices – he also really cares about how much we all get from the course as individuals.
There is a really good mixture of factual and anecdotal evidence on the course and so much material available on line also. You do have to go into it with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
My decision making processes have become clearer and I feel more motivated, the love of the land and farming/growing is returning after a difficult spell on the farm. I have a far better understanding of the Balance of Life and wish to be part of that in a positive way. There are some good tools to help you along the way.
I also met some amazing people who are all doing great things in their own way – some life-long friendships have developed with good people who motivate and inspire me.
I feel I have changed whilst on the course – it is Empowering to say the least – it has made me understand it is my journey, my life, my land, my goals (along with my husband who is a huge part obviously) – but I no longer feel guilty for wanting to be happy and if I’m not happy then wanting to change things.
Sue Molloy – Traveston
MY THOUGHTS ON COMPLETION OF THE HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT COURSE (ESSENTIALS) – January 2016
For a few years now, I have been listening to the buzz around the region, about the Holistic Management Course, devised by Alan Savory, delivered by Jason Virtue; and was intrigued by the excitement that it was generating. However, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the course was about, other than maybe “how to cell graze”, “the importance of managing your farm” and “you just have to do it”.
So with an opportunity to attend a shortened, subsidised, “essentials” course delivered locally, I set off with no particular expectations other than to perhaps learn how to better manage my farm. At this point I should let you know that my “farm” is a 1-acre property which began as a grassy slope with a house, and which I was attempting to turn in to a self-sufficiency dream. The total sum of animals was a few layer hens, 3 hives and an erstwhile dog. And whilst my husband is a great problem solver and handyman, he was resistant to change and was wanting to stick with what he already knew. I’m came to realise that our goals were quite different.
And this brings me to the first, and quite critical, pillar of Holistic Management. It’s actually not a farm management course, or how to cell graze (although this is definitely covered in depth during the course), but it is a whole-istic management course; a system which can be applied to managing most aspects of my life.
Starting with defining the goal. Seemed quite easy; thought I knew what I was doing till I began to wonder why Jason was relentlessly asking “what is your goal? What are you trying to achieve? Define your ‘whole’”. After my husband and I separately wrote several soul-searching goals, we arrived at what we believe we are really trying to do. And this was my first Eureka! moment. We did in fact have the same goal, expressed differently, and we were both ardent about achieving this outcome.
From then forward I learnt about:
- The Four Fundamental Processes that Drive out Ecosystem
- The tools we use to manage our ecosystem
- Decision testing
- Developing a grazing plan and
- Financial management
My second Eureka! moment was when I discovered the relationships between all of these processes; the goal, the ecosystem, the tools, decisions and finances. And throughout these sessions, Jason was still driving “what are your goals; what do you want to achieve; review, review, define”.
There was much build-up to the day we would be learning about grazing planning. At this stage, I was well committed to the processes we were learning and to seeing everyone in the group achieving their goals, but dismissed grazing planning as being irrelevant to me. Well, I didn’t have any grazing animals, did I?
However! My third, and most momentous Eureka! moment occurred when it all fell in to place: the grazing plan was not necessarily about cows, but about planning what I’m managing, the then, when and how of managing it, within the context of what I was trying to achieve.
I was very excited!
I could now plan the management of my farm into seasons, utilising the interaction of all the animals and ecosystems, the crops, family events, rest and work periods, how and when to use what tools, including biological. It all just clicked. And my husband was quite relieved to see the order that was now flowing.
I no longer have a haphazard approach to managing the farm. It is ordered, flowing, consultative, and in the short 6 weeks since the last formal session, I have increased productivity by at least 50%.
As Jason says: “it allows me to get the cows / self / crops to the right place, in the right time for the right reason”.
I’m very grateful that this course was subsidised, because, as a pensioner, it would have otherwise been out of my reach. This course has changed the way I think and behave about managing the elements in my life, increased productivity on the farm, returned a balance of labour between my husband and myself and given me great hope that I can do this.
Many thanks Jason, fellow students and the organisation supporting this course financially.
Anna Henbury – Melsted Park – January 2015
We would like to thank you very much for delivering the Holistic Management Training. It has made a big difference to the way we think, plan and operate our farm.
I am excited about the future viability of our farm thanks to the tools we now have because of the Holistic Management Training:
Setting our holistic context has allowed everybody involved in our farm the opportunity to clarify exactly what they wanted their life to look like and what is important for us at the farm. It was time for personal growth and self-reflection, which at times both challenging and uncomfortable. Your support, questioning and encouragement was invaluable throughout this process
The training has helped us with decision making ensuring that we are taking ourselves, family and staff in a direction we want to go. Once we have worked out exactly what we are asking – we are still working on makingthese questions clearer. The alternative has been just to plod along doing what we think is the right thing, ‘flying by the seat of our pants’ and this has got us by until now but there are a few things missing according to our holistic context.
The grazing planning ensures that we are better prepared for the season ahead, allowing us to make decisions about stock/grass before we are in a crisis situation, and hopefully before it is too late.
I am so looking forward to doing more work with you and developing our business, through conscious decision making, in the direction that we want it to go.
Thank you again for encouraging and guiding us through these amazing changes.