Whole-Farm Planning and Holistic Management - Phase II
The goal of this project is to develop in-depth decision case studies that document how farmers in the Northeast have used Holistic Management to make decisions on their farms that have resulted in some economic, social and environmental impact. This three-year second phase of the project will be accomplished by: 1) learning to prepare decision case studies; 2) using these case studies to facilitate the learning of agricultural educators and farmers; 3) working in teams to prepare comprehensive and effective decision case studies; 4) meeting as a group to assist each other in learning decision case study design and content and how to use them in facilitating the learning of others; 5) garner further learning in Holistic Management; and 6) to evaluate the impact of these decisions case studies as effective teaching aides.
Four to five hundred hard copies and CD-ROMS containing the decision case studies will be disseminated to agricultural educators and professionals throughout the Northeast and the studies will be provided on line by the end of the third year. A final evaluation of the benefits and usefulness of the decision case studies for educators teaching Holistic Management in the Northeast and the impact of managing holistically on participating farms will be the focus of the project’s third year.
Of the 15 participants involved, we will succeed with 14 of them. From the 15 participants, 7 teams (each containing 2 – 3 individuals) will be formed to prepare decision case studies that they will use in teaching agricultural professionals and farmers. These teams will be composed of individuals who will have different responsibilities but who will work together and learn from each other.
Changes we seek: Educators will become more effective teachers by developing decision case studies on farms that are using the Holistic Management to develop whole farm plans. These decision case studies will document the decision making process used to address some significant on-farm issue and the results of these decisions. Educators will use these case studies to help describe the decision making process as well as what other decisions and impacts could have resulted given the documented circumstance. The effectiveness of teaching utilizing decision case studies will be evaluated.
Degree of change: Increased knowledge and learning by educators, agricultural professionals and farmers through the use of the decision case study in teaching will serve as the final benchmark for success. The impact of the case studies will be documented in the evaluation phase of the project. This process enhances the educator’s ability to facilitate farmer-to-farmer learning and farmer-to-educator learning along with the traditional educator-to-farmer/educator learning. Failing to do this results in the traditional learning pattern leaving it unchanged and misses the opportunity for using decision case study development and utilization in teaching.
This project will also document impacts on farms managing holistically here in the Northeast. These will include success and failures as well as other data collected in an objective inquiry. Participants and farmers will not only be developing the decision case studies on individual farms but they will be using this data in training other farmers and agency personnel. The final phase of the project will evaluate the effectiveness of using decision case studies as a teaching tool by those involved with farm management and whole farm planning as well as evaluating impacts of using Holistic Management on farms in the Northeast.
We will work with seven educator teams consisting of two or three participants per team. These teams will develop decision case studies using them as teaching tools for educator professionals and farm management specialists who are teaching whole farm planning farm management and related subjects. These case studies will contain documentation of using Holistic Management for making decisions on the farm.
Achievement of Performance Target: Verification will show that of the 15 beneficiaries, 14 (working in seven teams of two or three individuals) will succeed in completing seven decision case studies and use these as teaching tools. Verification will be documented through an in-depth evaluation of both the decision case study development process and the impact of using decision case studies with farmers and by other agricultural professions.
Although 15 participants were targeted, only 12 are currently participating. The creation of eight decision cases is likely to result. Some of the participants are assisting with more than one decision case. All case studies will contain documentation of using Holistic Management for making decisions on the farm and or in organizations. One participant is working on a decision case study using local government as his subject and another is looking at a not-for-profit situation.
All 12 participants attended the third and final residency. The previous two residencies had 9 and 12 attendees respectively. There are eight decision cases under development by participants. These will be used in teaching agricultural professionals and farmers. The teams are formed and working together. Those that did not submit a decision case are working with those that have one.
Educators are using the draft decision cases in teaching, testing their effectiveness; the information learned in the three residencies appears to be having a beneficial impact. Karl North is working on two decision cases and the educators used this for teaching at the “Holistic Management Decision Making For Agency, Non-Profit Professionals and Farmers” training for 33 participants. It was used again by Karl and Phil Metzger at a session for Extension, SWCD and NRCS staff held in Binghamton, NY for 15 attendees. Educators use the case studies to help describe the decision making process as well as what other decisions and impacts could have resulted given a documented circumstance.
Degree of change: Increased knowledge and learning by educators, agricultural professionals and farmers through the use of the decision cases in teaching has begun to take place. The process does seem to enhance the educator’s ability to facilitate farmer-to-farmer learning and farmer-to-educator learning along with the traditional educator-to-farmer/educator learning. This was certainly the case at the two agency, NGO and farmer workshops during 2005.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Farmer Pam Moore, an attendee of the New York Holistic Management training workshop, organized a day-long farmer/agency introductory course in the Binghamton, NY area that was taught by educators Phil Metzger and Karl North using a draft decision case.
Three of the educators, assisted by Allan Savory, taught a one day workshop on January 23, “An Introduction to Holistic Management,” in Montpelier, VT for 25 participants. The training was well received and one specific result was that Seth Wilner and Phil Metzger have been asked by the Regional Farm and Food Project to facilitate introductory Holistic Management workshops in New York state. Decision cases were not used due to limited time on the agenda.
Phil Metzger gave a talk introducing Holistic Management at the New York Soil and Water Conservation Society 2005 Annual Meeting.
The draft decision case developed by Karl North was used as a teaching tool at the New York “Holistic Management Decision Making For Agency, Non-Profit Professionals and Farmers” training held November 4 and 5, 2004 in Hamilton, NY. Thirty-three attendees from Cornell Cooperative Extension, USDA NRCS, various NGOs, and farmers were exposed to how a decision case can be used in teaching. This was an excellent tool for training workshops with adequate time – four hours or greater – and will be incorporated in further training workshops.
USDA - NRCS
University of Maine
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware Co.
86 Pitts Hill Lane
PO Box 638
Salem, NY 12865-0638
Office Phone: 5188549385
Iowa State University
972 110th Street
Hampton, IA 50441
Office Phone: 5152940887
Northland Sheep Dairy
Tioga Co. Planning
Cornell Small Farms Program