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What it’s like to attend a Jefferson Center workshop

– Guest post by Holistic Ag Grazier Ariel Greenwood
On March 12th, Spencer Smith hosted a Jefferson Center workshop at Pepperwood Preserve  on Holistic Management. I am resident grazier here at the Preserve, managing the day to day operations of year-round grazing more than150 head of cattle on this 3,200 acre land base. Holistic Ag, the company I’m part of along with founder Aaron Lucich, takes its name from Holistic Management–so it was great to host Spencer to teach the nuts and bolts such a robust decision-making process.

 A diverse class

The class was attended by a big crew of folks from many paths. There was:
  • the young goat rancher who himself looked rather like a billy goat
  • the next door neighbor interested in getting his permaculture homestead off to a great start
  • the owner of an established ranch near the coast
  • someone on a bicycle journey exploring regenerative agriculture who biked the steep Mayacama hills all the way to Pepperwood
  • Representatives of land trusts who wanted to understand more about managing complexity
  • more than a couple of anarchists joined in as well
While developed in a grassland management context, holistic management lends itself to any endeavor involving money, people, and nature, so it makes sense that people with many intended applications would find their way to it–and the class was enriched with the diversity of backgrounds.
Kept indoors most of the day due to rain, we hunkered down in the Preserve’s classroom to take in Spencer’s wit and wisdom, peppering him with questions as we went, while inches of rain hammered the roof above. I’d heard Spencer speak before at the Savory Institute conference in San Francisco, but was still impressed with his ability convey the nuances of good grazing and Holistic Management itself to such a broad audience.
Talking with attendees in the days after the event, it was clear that we were all unexpectedly enriched by Spencer. When I decide to further my training in Holistic Management I intend to look to the Jefferson Center courses first to glean more from Spencer’s experience as a cattleman and skill as an instructor.