Drought, Jefferson Center, Restoration Agriculture, Permiculture,
Creating a landscape that is resilient to drought while maximizing production and profit is easier than you may think.

Flood in the winter, drought in the summer

This is a common enough thing to hear in seasonally dry environments, even farmers and ranchers will complain about too much rain in the winter and then lament about the long dry summers. Around here it’s California’s water scarcity problem that is often the topic of discussion. Few people are taking action to make the water that comes in the winter effective throughout the dry season.  Those who do take action, find themselves more profitable and more tolerant, despite Mother Nature’s whims.  So the question remains: how can you develop regenerative farming practices that will maximize production and profit while minimizing labor and cost?  If you are interested in answering this question for yourself, join Mark Shepard and myself for an intensive three-day course where we will help you utilize your land, your water, your livestock and your time to produce more!
On March 3rd through the 5th we will be hosted by Shone Farm in Santa Rosa, California for an intensive 3-day workshop that examines regenerative agriculture techniques that are proven all over the world and in every ecosystem.  If you are interested in learning with us as we assist in developing a Holistic and Restoration Ag management plan for Shone farm’s grazing, cropping, vineyard, and orchard systems, you should join us.   At this workshop, you will learn how to develop and execute a management and land plan that will increase the value and profitability of your farm.   We will accept a limited amount of students for this course and we will address the concerns that you have on your land to help you develop a plan that will offer you the quality of life that you desire while building the future resource base that increases production and profit.

Carbon farming increases drought tolerance

Managing for soil health, Drought tolerance
Once you start to manage for soil health, significant improvements happen quickly.

As we increase the amount of carbon in the soil, we also increase the soil’s ability to take and hold plant available water, giving our farms and ranches drought tolerance and increased production/profits.  For example, each percent of soil carbon that you increase per six inches of soil, you will get more than 20,000 gallons of additional water holding capacity per acre!  Imagine what that would do to your farm or ranch.  Imagine a soil profile that would take and hold all of the rain that falls in a given year, rather than puddle which allows the water to evaporate back to the atmosphere.

One such rancher, Gabe Brown (one of the best regenerative farmers in the country), has taken his North Dakota farm from less than two percent soil carbon to over 10 percent, essentially eliminating the threat of drought or flood on his operation near Bismark.  Not only has he insured against the best that Mother Nature could throw at him, he is doing it naturally!  With the improvement in soil health and structure he has no need for fertilizers and  has increased his livestock carrying capacity five times while he produces 125 percent of the county average (of his conventional-farming neighbors)  in cash crop production.  A statement Gabe made while in Chico for the Grazing for Change conference, that resonated with me is that he no longer signs the front of checks…. only the back!  

Mark Shepard and Spencer Smith

For the second time Mark and I will collaborate and host a combined Holistic Management and Restoration Ag course in California.  This is a great opportunity to learn from the best in the business and find ways to integrate these techniques into your farm or ranch.  Last year we held this workshop in Mendocino County and had a great time working with farmers and ranchers from all over North America. Attendees came from as far away as Canada and Florida.

One of the leaders in regenerative agriculture, who has a permaculture background, is Mark Shepard of New Forest Farms. His operation is considered to be one of the most ambitious regenerative agriculture projects in the United States. Mark travels the world helping people develop a better understanding of land planning and restoration agriculture.  He has immense knowledge and expertise in working with nature to create food forests that produce an incredible amount of healthy and regenerative food.  Recently we decided to join forces and, for the first time ever, offer a combined Holistic Management and Restoration Ag Design course together.

Regenerative Agriculture
Mark Shepard’s New Forest Farm

Now, if you are ready to learn and adopt these techniques on your landscape, you can gain the tools that you will need to increase crop production while

Permaculture and Regenerative Ag
Mark Shepard checking his harvest at New Forest Farm.

increasing the nutrient-density of the food that you are producing.

This workshop promises to go beyond anything that you may have seen at a permaculture workshop in the past. What Mark has accomplished on New Forest Farm is revolutionary. He will share his tools and insights to integrate with the Holistic Management decision-making framework and planned grazing that I will teach,  so that we can enhance and re-build our California landscapes.

Come join us for this three-day intensive workshop at Santa Rosa Junior College,  where we will develop a land and grazing plan that will improve ecosystem function and profitability. The course will cover how to implement the best actions within your farm/ranch holistic context. We will be discussing all of the tools in the “toolbox” and helping you decide how to best move forward on your farm/ranch projects.  We will teach you how to make a farm and ranch management plan that will work with nature, increasing the land’s ability to withstand drought, flood and fire, while simultaneously increasing your profit and the production from your landscape by managing for effective ecosystem processes and diversity of life.  
We will be diving into the ideas and principles of regenerative agriculture and discussing how the integration of livestock into cropping systems can increase production and overall ecosystem health in our landscapes. You learn how to build soil naturally while you create a landscape that produces more nutrient-dense foods for your family, community and customers.

Restoration Agriculture Course Highlights:

    • The theory and practice of Holistic Management and Restoration Agriculture
    • Biome identification and ecology
    • Keyline design, earthworks, and water management
    • No-till farming
    • Perennial crop establishment, maintenance, and breeding
    • Planning grazing to enhance ecosystem function
    • Holistic Financial Planning: planning for profit and peace of mind
    • Construct your vineyard, orchard, cropping and grazing enterprise to maximize production and profit while minimizing irrigation needs.
    • Location: 7450 Steve Olson Lane Forestville, California 95436
    • Date: March 3, 4, 5 , 2017
    • Time: 9 am to 5 pm each day
    • Attire and meals: please dress in work clothes appropriate for the time of year and climate that you feel comfortable in outside in the field and in a classroom setting. Attendees will be provided with delicious, organic meals and snacks each day. Coffee, tea and water will also be provided.
    • Lodging: Please plan on staying in the nearby town of  Forestville, Santa Rosa or other places in beautiful Sonoma County.
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