“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.”