When we were doing research for our animal husbandry courses, we came across the incredible work of Allan Savory and the Savory Institute. The Savory Institute facilitates large-scale restoration of the world’s landscapes through Holistic Management (HM).
Our area of the world is vastly still wild and undamaged and we have a powerful opportunity to learn how to break the cycle of land degradation by having new farmland start fresh with HM. We applied to be a part of the Savory Institute through their global network and it was announced in January, 2015 that NFTI made the nomination for this year’s Hub Candidates. We were one of nine chosen from 70 applicants from around the world, and the first one from Canada!
It has been an empowering and exciting journey this past year as NFTI has worked towards becoming a fully accredited Savory Hub, as announced at the 2015 Artisans of the Grasslands International Conference October 2nd, 2015. Along with this year’s other candidates, we have joined a prestigious existing group of 20 Savory Network Hubs already providing education and implementation support to land managers in their region on regenerative management practices. Altogether these organizations represent 16 countries on all 6 habitable continents.
There were a few steps to acheiving our accreditation:
- Holistic Management Training in Denver, Colorado
We are training our staff to become Savory Institute Accredited Professionals to teach our Holistic Management courses in the future. To accomplish this, two NFTI board members participated in a Holistic Management Training Course in Denver, Colorado March 7th – 17th 2015 at the Plains Conservation Centre (another Savory Hub).
Helen Green and Leon Bouchard both had a productive and inspiring time. Days on the course were long and full of learning – both from the instructors and from the other Hub Candidate leaders who were there who helped them by providing specialized knowledge/advice from their own unique farming experiences. They also had the opportunity to tour some sites that were actively managing their land through Holistic Management. Of the most value was the land planning exercise where other participants looked over NFTI’s site plans and helped sketch out better grazing pattern layouts.
We will be using the information learned on course directly to help the NFTI board in the decision-making process in the future. We will also be using the land planning and financial planning tools. There is a lot more learning that will need to be done to become accredited professionals to teach the Holistic Management courses at our site, but this was an essential first step. Both NFTI participants will continue to study and complete the training.
- Hub Leadership Bootcamp in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
This incredible learning opportunity took place at the Africa Centre for Holistic Management, an existing Hub that is part of the Savory Network, on Dimbangombe Ranch, Allan Savory’s home May 9th – 17th.
The ten days we spent at the Africa Centre for Holistic Management were transformational for us! We learned from Allan Savory and experienced first-hand how local Zimbabweans are regenerating their land with cattle. Regenerative agriculture is the solution for local and global food security.
The course was a mix of on-the-land learning about HM and in-classroom education around how to make our Hub a sustainable enterprise through marketing, financial and business plannine. We visited a village called Sizinda that was on the verge of death just 5 years ago because the river stopped flowing during the dry season. The Africa Centre sent one of their community facilitators, Precious Phiri, to help them learn Holistic Management and they created, through thoughtful planning, a way to help the domestic animals mimic healthy natural wild herd behaviours. Using only pastoral shepherds on foot with the new plan moving their herds, they have triggered a genesis event in their valley and now the river runs for 11 kms during the whole dry season. Holistic Management is a beautiful and sound method for helping humanity reintegrate itself into the natural world through purposefully designed systems to have our needs nourished while strengthening natural ecosystem functions.
- Holistic Financial Planning, Business Planning, Ecological Monitoring and Land Planning
Each Hub is required to submit a final business plan providing the specifics of implementation relevant to our region. This involves managing a local demonstration site, offering training and consulting services, and providing monitoring and data management services for the site. We also are required to maintain a demonstration site where we use the core Holistic Management planning procedures for operating. This includes completing baseline and comprehensive ecological monitoring, holistic planned grazing and land planning.
We were very fortunate to host Byron Shelton, Senior Program Director for Savory Institute who came up in mid-July to provide an 8-day course. The course covered the Foundations of Holistic Management, Financial Planning, Land Planning, Grazing Planning, and Ecological Monitoring. This training was really wonderful for our whole staff to take part in.
The Savory Institute did a really nice write-up on their website if you would like to read about more details from the training: http://savory.global/news/Northern-Farm-Training-Institute-Completes-Holistic-Management-Training
- Artisans of the Grasslands International Conference and Hub Gathering
In October, we joined the current 20 Savory Network Hub organizations in San Francisco, CA to participate in this year’s Savory Institute International Conference which drew a crowd of over 500 people. Leaders from each Hub spent 2 days afterwards specifically working together to strengthen relationships with one another and explore opportunities to grow international collaborations.
We are so excited and honoured to be a part of this growing network of inspirational farmers and educators from around the world who are working together with us to transform our planet with abundant food and healthy ecosystems for all!