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The Jefferson Center for Holistic Management


The Jefferson Center for Holistic Management is an accredited hub with the Savory Global Network. The hub started in 2015 after extensive training with the Savory Institute in 2014, which was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. This is a bootstrapped hub, folks. For good times sake, here’s a video from the first days of the hub dream. This video was part of our application to the Savory Institute to become a hub. We jumped in with both feet. Burned the boats. Cut the ropes. (Insert any other sailor metaphor indicating we fully committed to our dream.) It’s been hard. It’s been real. It’s the most important work we can imagine doing and we are grateful everyday that we get to do it (and that our daughter draws pictures of deep soil, dung beetles and of course, fairies).

Today we are a fully operational Savory Global Network hub serving Northern California (south to San Luis Obispo County and north to the Oregon border) and Nevada. Each Savory Hub must have a demonstration site managed by the hub leaders that is continually under Holistic Management. We like to call the “demonstration site” our “learning site” because we are learning everyday how to better behave toward the complex ecosystem we are all part of. Our learning site is the Smith Family’s certified organic ranch, Springs Ranch, owned and operated by Steve and Pati Smith, near Fort Bidwell, California.

Where’s that?

In Surprise Valley.

Where is that?

In Modoc County.


just head to the northeast corner of California and come experience this rural wonderland! 

We travel. We travel through the great states of California and Nevada to teach Holistic Management across many diverse environments. We partner with host ranches, farms and urban ag centers such as Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, California, Belcampo Farms in Gazelle, California and Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm near Santa Rosa, California.

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Why Jefferson?

Ever heard of the proposed state of Jefferson? We are not directly aligned with this political movement to create the 51st state consisting of counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon. However, the strong, independent spirit that gave rise to this movement is deeply part of the culture of our region. We align with these values and wanted to create a name that represented something larger than ourselves. We believe the Holistic Management and regenerative agriculture movement will take all of us working together to create positive outcomes on the land. We also felt the Smith Center was too, well, plain.

The philosophy of Thomas Jefferson inspires us. He believed that a strong society was built upon small, independent farmers who were deeply invested in the health of land. They had true ownership in their land and communities. We believe that a lack of ownership and responsibility for land leads to a slow downward spiral for communities. We grew up in small, rural communities. We are raising our daughter in one. They matter to us.

We work to empower communities through ecological regeneration.

Why Holistic Management?

We practiced Holistic Management in our own lives, privately, since we were married in 2006. Abbey studied Holistic Management in South Africa after graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in animal science. We were happy to have a Holistic Context (then called a Holistic Goal) to guide us through our private decisions. When we became parents, this all changed. We looked at the world and our current work and knew in our hearts it wasn’t enough. We needed to do more, be part of a larger movement, to create a bright future for our daughter and all the children of her generation. We know the power of Holistic Management in our own lives and we’ve seen the results on the land through Holistic Planned Grazing. Through the worst drought in California history, we realized a 40 percent increase in forage production utilizing planned grazing.  There were not expensive inputs purchased. Just changing the way we planned, made decisions and then acted created these results for our family ranch. Holistic Management works.


Back to the larger movement. The Savory Global Network allows us to be part of a grassroots community of entrepreneurs working to regenerate land and communities across the world. We have access to state of the art accredited Holistic Management training materials and resources provided by the Savory Institute. We are more powerful together than alone. We are proud to be part of the Savory Global Network.

Spencer Smith

Spencer Smith is an accredited Savory Field Professional and Ecological Outcomes Verification Master Verifier with the Savory Institute and Jefferson Center for Holistic Management. He owns and operates Springs Ranch a 1800 acre certified organic ranch in Fort Bidwell, California that is under continuous Holistic Management, and produces 100 percent grassfed beef. He travels throughout Northern California and Nevada mostly, but also nationally and internationally conducting Holistic Management workshops, courses, events, consultations, land assessments and ecological monitoring.

With a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from CSU,Chico and experience managing cow-calf and yearling herds in Northern California and Nevada, Spencer has years of ranch management experience.

He was a founding member of the Land to Market program of the Savory Institute. He continues to be a leader in the activation of regenerative supply chains in the region and beyond, because an economic model that values and uplifts the farmer is so critical to the Savory Global movement, and the mission of the Jefferson Center–to empower communities through ecological regeneration.

Formerly, he managed the cattle on the DS Ranch in Sierra Valley, Calif. as well as about 600,000 acres of grazing allotment north of Reno, Nevada.  His joy in life is being the dad of Miss Maezy Smith and Mr. Samuel Smith, and spending time hunting, hiking and walking the fields of the ranch looking for dung beetles, while quizzing his children on species of grasses and forbs.

Building soil is key to recovery

Enterprise photo by Terri Grillo



Abbey Smith

Abbey serves as the Savory Global Network Coordinator. She is also the director of the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management. The Jefferson Center is the  Savory Network Hub serving Northern California and Nevada as well as farmers and ranchers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.She spent time in South Africa living with families on holistically managed cattle farms after graduating magna cum laude from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in animal science and a focus in communications and ethnic studies. She attended graduate school at the University of Nevada, Reno where she received a master’s degree in interactive journalism. She grew up on a commercial cattle ranch in Indian Valley, in Plumas County, California. Her loving, large, loud family has lived in the valley for seven generations. Family is a source of joy for her. Her goal in life is to create a beautiful world for her daughter, Maezy, and son Sam, which is why she is working to advance Holistic Management. Living in the rural community of Surprise Valley, California and being involved in a global organization is a dream come true. Abbey serves on the Surprise Valley Education Foundation board and is involved in local food groups. She enjoys doing yoga, gardening, running trails and hiking with her children. She loves that her work with the Savory Institute and Savory Global Network allows her to travel the world with her children to beautiful (with rich health and biodiversity) places on Earth, and be part of a global community (that feels more like a family) working to regenerate land and communities through Holistic Management.


Grazing for Change, Abbey Smith, Holistic Management, Jefferson Center

Abbey at Grazing for Change, November 2016, at Chico State University.

Springs Ranch

Springs Ranch is 1,600 acres of  Aspen groves, natural springs and upland areas on the Warner Mountains, irrigated meadows that reach the Upper Alkali Lake in Surprise Valley and dryland pastures. It sits on the western edge of the Great Basin. The morning ranch house kitchen window view displays the sunrise over the lake and the Hays Canyon Range in Nevada. No houses, buildings or other signs of humans disturb the view. Read more about Springs Ranch.The demonstration ranch, Fort Bidwell, Calif.
The demonstration ranch, Fort Bidwell, Calif.