- Agronomic: potatoes
- Fruits: grapes
- Vegetables: beans, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, tomatoes
- Additional Plants: herbs
- Animals: bovine, goats, sheep
- Animal Products: dairy
- Education and Training: workshop
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, whole farm planning
- Production Systems: holistic management
- Sustainable Communities: public participation, urban agriculture
This project will address a specific problem in many communities across Connecticut – farmland that has been protected through purchase by town governments, land trusts, or other non-profits, but is not being used for farming – and is generally not being managed for any other purpose, either. We will address this problem, in cooperation with local community groups in 5 towns across Connecticut, by using Holistic Management to draw together the community around setting goals for the farm, developing a plan to progress toward those goals, and putting the plan into action. Through this approach, there is the potential for tremendous benefits to these communities. The most concrete benefit is that these communities will be assured of having a working farm, in which they can be directly involved, into the foreseeable future. All these farms will have educational programs in the environment and agriculture, so that young people will have hands-on learning about where their food comes from and what it takes to grow food and manage a farm. The community farming groups and town officials in these communities will also go through a major educational process, guided by the principles of Holistic Management, learning how to work together to set goals as a community, how this particular piece of land fits into the local ecosystem, and how their management decisions will affect the community and the ecosystem. Having once made the decisions as a community about how to plan and manage a farm, they will never think the same way about farming, or food, or their local ecosystem, or their local community again.
Project objectives from proposal:
We already have plans for a meeting on January 7, 2006 (before the funding from this proposal would start). At this meeting, the community farm groups from across the state will have an opportunity to learn about each other’s projects and exchange skills, ideas, and resources for the first half of the day. The second half of the day, we will have a Holistic Management educator (Erica Frenay, who has herself been the director of a community farm on city-owned land in Portland, Oregon – www.zengerfarm.org ). Erica will introduce the groups to goal setting and planning using Holistic Management.
After the Jan. 7 workshop, and once funding from this proposal begins, a team of two Holistic Management educators (Erica Frenay and Phil Metzger of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in New York) will spend a day with each of the 5 community farm groups. The goals of these day-long workshops will be for each group to develop a holistic goal, to begin development of a strategic plan, and to get some experience testing a relevant decision in relationship to the holistic goal.
After this intensive work with each group, then there will be a series of meetings gathering all the groups together, in order to efficiently use the time of the Holistic Management educators, and to continue the opportunity to build a coalition among the community groups:
A 1-day workshop on ecosystem processes, with the goal of helping the groups understand how their management decisions affect the health of the land, and identifying signs they can use to monitor their own land,
½ day follow-up meetings at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years from the beginning of the project.
The Holistic Management educators would also continue to be available for support to the groups through e-mail and phone calls. In addition, the Connecticut collaborators on this project from other local organizations will be able to assist with specific local information, as appropriate. Some examples:
Kim Stoner and Bill Duesing coordinate a network called “It’s Not Farmland Without Farmers” through the Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. They can work through this network to help community groups find trained, experienced farmers to work with the community on agricultural goals for the farms, and they can draw on other information resources in the network for assistance to beginning farmers.
Kim Stoner, from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, can also bring scientific expertise from her institution on how to grow crops new to Connecticut, including crops appropriate to local ethnic populations such as calabaza and jilo, and a wide variety of other information and testing services.
Rebecca Elwood of the Natural Resources Conservation Service can bring information on government programs and technical assistance that may be able to assist the community farms.
Kachina Walsh Weaver, of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, works on educational programs for town governments on environmental and agricultural issues. She can help individual groups in working with their town governments and the project as a whole in educating town government officials across the state.