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Holistic Management: the decision-making framework

Spencer, Maezy and I are in Chico, California for 8 days with our fellow Western US Savory Hubbers, Dr. Cyndi Daley of Chico State and Savory Institute Professional Educator Byron Shelton. We are going through an intensive holistic management training so we all become professional educators. We rented a house off of Forest Avenue in Chico and spend each day at the Chico State University Farm in the classroom and then pulling on our muck boots and rain jackets and trudging out into the pastures to read the land. Rain or shine we head out. So far it has been solid rain. The Californians in the group rejoice!

Maezy is a wonderful host to our holistic management friends. She is delighted to have a new house for  a week and spend time with her new friend Josie. Our friends the Landons folded Maezy into their family while we are in class and she is having a blast. We sure wish we lived closer to to this great family. After the first day with Nicole and Josie, Maezy announced in an official tone (which is becoming her regular tone these days) that she knew all about honey. In the evenings, she dances throughout the large kitchen as we all cook and visit. She showed our friends from Kansas how to eat an artichoke (apparently they don’t get many artichokes in Kansas!). We were happy to introduce them to some California produce. Maezy also got to meet another new friend: Maisie Jane from Maisie Jane’s almonds. The lady we are renting this house from organized a tour for our group of the Maisie Jane’s plant. It smelled like cinnamon and roasted almonds. Amazing. Maisie Jane taught us all about her business, which started as an FFA project in high school. And we learned all about almond production and processing. She comes from a family of almond growers, is a grower herself, and buys local almonds. We are practicing calling them “amonds” now. We learned that California almonds, due to food safety requirements, must be pasteurized before sale. Even raw almonds. Most processors put their almonds through a gas pasteurizing process, but Maisie sends hers to a plant in the San Joaquin Valley which steam pasteurizes almonds. I’d rather my Maezy eat non-gassed almonds, so thank you Maisie Jane!

 

So far in training we have covered the foundations of Holistic Management, which include the four key insights of the program and the decision making process. The decision-making process is a method of defining the whole under management, bringing the decision makers who affect that whole together to define the end result that they deeply desire for the whole they are managing (a business, a family, yourself, a ranch or piece of land). These desires can be thought of as the “why”–why are we doing something? What is the purpose? It is the underlying forces of our actions. These are separated out from the actions that we take, such as buying a new product, deciding to go to college or not, etc. When we completed this exercise as a group, it was crystal clear that most people in an organization of any type usually agree on the why (to have healthy land, safe families, etc.) but wars are waged over the how (the actions). I can think of families even divided by the how. So sad. Such a waste. The real power of holistic management comes from clearly defining the why and then testing each action against the why (or in other words: against the holistic context). The testing process takes the emotion out of the action being debated and puts it where it properly belongs in the why–the outcome we all desire.To learn more about holistic management online classes, which cover the foundations in depth, click here. (And enter this code to get a discount: discount2145.)

Spencer shows us root growth and community dynamics in the Chico State University Farm pasture, while we get soaked by a wonderful winter storm.

Spencer shows us root growth and community dynamics in the Chico State University Farm pasture, while we get soaked by a wonderful winter storm.

The sun came out for a moment to show us how this field--which is very typical for most pastures--is both over rested and over grazed.

The sun came out for a moment to show us how this field–which is very typical for most pastures–is both over grazed and under stocked.

Roxanne and Julie from the Kansas hub practice holistic decision making to apply to their multi-generational farm.

Roxanne and Julie from the Kansas hub practice holistic decision making to apply to their multi-generational farm.

The Maisie Jane's processing plant smelled like cinnamon and roasted nuts. Perhaps only Santa could have a factory that smelled this divine.

The Maisie Jane’s processing plant smelled like cinnamon and roasted nuts. Perhaps only Santa could have a factory that smelled this divine.

The amazing Maisie Jane gives us a private tour of her almond products plant.

The amazing Maisie Jane gives us a private tour of her almond products plant.

In holistic management we learn to observe land looking down,  not across. Bryon Shelton teaches us how to read the land.

In holistic management we learn to observe land looking down, not across. Bryon Shelton teaches us how to read the land.

Dinner in Chico

Maezy entertains our friends at each meal and taught them how to eat artichokes.