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Empowering Women in Agriculture: The Lasting Impact of HMI's Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program

Last updated Thursday, March 28, 2024 09:55 ET

Holistic Management International (HMI) has empowered women to thrive in sustainable agriculture through initiatives like the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers program.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, 03/28/2024 / SubmitMyPR /

Holistic Management is gaining recognition as a regenerative agricultural practice that surpasses traditional farming methods. It employs a unique approach to land management that transforms landscapes, improves the quality of life for farmers and communities, boosts profitability, and nurtures healthier ecosystems.

This practice views the farm as a holistic system where every component is interconnected and interdependent. Therefore, it prioritizes soil health, water conservation, wildlife habitat, and community well-being. Holistic Management International (HMI), a nonprofit organization based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been promoting regenerative agricultural practices since its establishment in 1984. It has trained 84,000 individuals, influencing 115 million acres across 130 countries.

HMI collaborates with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and businesses to empower family farmers, ranchers, tribal members, and pastoralists worldwide to adopt holistic approaches to land stewardship. It also facilitates educational programs to help individuals and entities improve food quality, heal the environment, and establish ties with communities.

One of HMI's initiatives was the Beginning Farmer/Rancher (BFR): Women in the Northeast program. The nine-month program offered training in Holistic Management of whole farms and ranches to women with less than ten years of agricultural experience. It taught participants essential skills such as business planning, time management, soil fertility management, and sustainable livestock and crop farming practices.

The program also received support from the USDA NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) with a grant titled "Growing Successful Transitions with Beginning Women Farmer Programs in the Northeast and Texas." This grant allowed the nonprofit organization to train beginning women farmers in whole farm planning over three years. It also helped HMI to extend the project's reach in Austin, Texas, where there was a demand among beginning women farmers.

HMI promoted healthy land practices and enhanced the profitability and quality of life for aspiring women farmers and ranchers through this program. The initiative's impact can be felt until today, as proven by the success story of Allyson Angelini, one of the program's participants.

Allyson's venture into sustainable agriculture started when she was still in college. She has always been passionate about food politics and dreamt of owning her own farm. Allyson realized the importance of having a profitable business founded in sustainable practices after gaining experience on various farms in Italy and the United States.

Desiring to improve her skills and develop a farm business plan, she enrolled in HMI's Beginning Farmers and Ranchers: Women in the Northeast program. Here, she learned essential business planning skills and gained valuable insights into Holistic Management practices.

"I was able to communicate my ideas effectively, prioritize tasks, and balance all the aspects of my business thanks to HMI's program," Allyson remarked. She leveraged her newfound knowledge and skills in planned grazing and sustainable farming practices to negotiate and purchase her own farm, which she developed from a patchy land to a thriving agricultural landscape. Her farm is now a profitable enterprise that supports her community with wholesome vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers.

Another successful woman impacted by HMI's innovative program is Christine Martin. Christine was motivated to delve into sustainable agriculture because she realized early on how food impacted her health. After struggling with health issues, she decided to change her diet and lifestyle. This decision eventually led her to purchase five acres of land in Texas and later a larger ranch of 100 acres.

Christine, determined to raise her own food to improve her health, began experimenting with farming practices guided by various sources. She enrolled in HMI's BFR course in 2015. The program provided Christine with a systematic decision-making framework comprising all aspects of land management, business planning and personal choices, which enabled her to develop a sustainable ranch.

"I had always known what I wanted to do with my ranch, but I had trouble translating my vision into reality. HMI's program helped me to navigate this, from finances and land management to community involvement," Christine shared. She applies the knowledge she gained from the course until today as she runs The Regen Ranch. Passionate about providing local, healthy meat and eggs to her community, she focuses on grass-fed lamb, pastured free-range eggs, beef, and turkeys to promote real food for all people.

These case studies highlight the tangible impact of HMI's Beginning Farmers and Ranchers program in empowering women in agriculture and promoting sustainable farming practices. Through HMI's education, training, and support, participants like Allyson and Christine have been able to build profitable enterprises while nurturing the land and their communities.

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