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. These Holistic Management Decision Cases (HMDCs) will be used by participants to facilitate learning of holistic decision making. 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 initial 15 participants planned for, 12 participated fully in developing Holistic Management Decision Cases (HMDC). From the 12 participants, 6 teams (each containing 2 – 3 individuals) were formed to prepare 9 decision case studies that will be used in teaching agricultural professionals and farmers. These teams were beneficial in that this allowed them to work together and learn from each other.
Changes we seek: Educators are becoming more effective teachers by developing decision case studies on farms that are using Holistic Management to develop whole farm plans. These decision case studies are documenting the decision making process used to address significant on-farm issues and the results of the decisions. Educators are using these decision cases 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 during the early spring of 2007.
Degree of change: Increased knowledge and learning by educators, agricultural professionals and farmers through the use of the decision case study in teaching is the final benchmark for success. The impact of the decision cases 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 have worked with 6 educator teams consisting of 2 to 3 participants per team. These teams developed decision cases and have begun using them as teaching tools for educational professionals, farm management specialists and farmers who are teaching whole farm planning farm management and related subjects. These decision cases contain documentation of using Holistic Management for making decisions on the farm.
Achievement of Performance Target: Of the planned 15 beneficiaries, 12 participated (9 working as members of one of 6 teams (7 planned) and 3 working individually) succeeded in completing 9 decision cases (7 planned) and have begun using these as teaching tools in workshops across the Northeast (NY, PA, WV, NH, MA). Next are an in-depth evaluations of both the decision case development process and the impact of using decision cases to facilitate learning with agricultural professionals and farmers.
Of the 15 participants targeted, 12 participated. The creation of 9 complete decision cases is the result. Others decision cases may be published in the near future. Some of the participants are assisting with more than one decision case as part of the teams creating the documents. All decision cases will contain documentation of using Holistic Management for making decisions on the farm. Completed decision cases were prepared by John Gerber (MA), Vivianne Holmes (ME), Phil Metzger (NY) & Seth Wilner (NH), Karl North (NY), Steve Ritz (WV), John Thurgood (NY), Jim Weaver (PA), Seth Wilner (NH), and Erica Frenay (NY) & Karl North (NY). An additional decision case was started by Mary Child (WV) & John Gerber.
Educators are using the decision cases in teaching, to test their effectiveness. Educators use the decision cases to help describe the on-farm 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 facilitating is taking place. The 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. This was evident at: 2 NY events, a young farmer session in Norwich, and a farmer/agency training in Owego; 1 PA farmer/agency event; and 1 farmer/agency NH event during 2007 alone. Future trainings events are still planned in MA, WV, NY and PA.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Workshops and training utilizing the newly developed Holistic Management Decision Cases have been conducted by John Gerber (MA), Phil Metzger (NY), Karl North (NY), John Thurgood (NY), Jim Weaver (PA), and Seth Wilner (NH). Workshops using HMDCs, that will also be fully evaluated, are planned for the winter of 2006-07 and spring 2007 by Phil Metzger, Steve Ritz (WV), John Thurgood, Jim Weaver, Seth Wilner and Erica Frenay (NY). The in-depth evaluations of both the decision case development process and the impact of using decision cases to the facilitate learning of agricultural professionals and farmers will be the final outcome.
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