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Wessex Holistic Management Study Group (Pilot)

Thanks to Patagonia, I (Natasha) have funding to facilitate a peer-support/development group based around Holistic Management (HM). Dan Powell from LandBase has also agreed to provide support (in terms of being my peer-support at the same time as expanding his skills in HM) and for LandBase to be a partner.

The aims of this project are to:
- enable and encourage participants to implement the principles of Holistic Management (and Holistic Planned Grazing where appropriate) on their holdings
- develop a regional ‘community of practice’ for Holistic Management in the defined area (Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, and south Gloucestershire)
- create some case studies for Holistic Management in the UK
- explore what is most helpful in achieving these aims and learn from that for future groups, for which the alumni of this one will hopefully act as examples

We are keeping charges low for inclusivity's sake – but still asking participants to make a contribution so that they are demonstrating investment in the program.

We ask all those enrolling to seriously consider whether they can commit to following through with the process, since our aim is to build a strong group dynamic which lays the foundations for onward collaboration - and to that end keep the group closed and numbers limited (to twelve).

Joining fees are £75 per person (with £25 refund if you complete the questionairre at the end), and then £15 per person per meeting (or £25 for two from the same holding/enterprise).

Subscriptions will be put in a kitty to cover expenses such as refreshments and room hire, printing, buying charts, any external presenters, my travelling etc. (Tides Foundation (Patagonia) money will cover all but £86 of my wages for this, the £86 coming out of the kitty). What is left at the end of the program will be put to a use determined by the group – one which is mutually beneficial and helps further HM development in the region/UK (e.g. creating a subject specific library or putting on an event which shares the learning).

Group activity will be recorded on the website, with me writing short reports after the first, third and sixth meetings and a longer one at the end.

As indicated above, the aim of the program is to develop participants’ practical skills in implementing Holistic Management and Holistic Planned Grazing – so in line with HM practice the precise manner in which we will run the group and material we cover will be determined according to the group’s needs – but our provisional outline includes 6 half-day meetings based primarily indoors at relatively short intervals (e.g. fortnightly), followed by three more field-based meetings at times determined to be appropriate (but complete before the end of August), once we get into the growing season.

We will endeavour to locate the indoor meetings fairly central to the region - West Town Farm, near Exeter being a potential venue; outdoor meetings will be decided according to the purpose of the meeting but will hopefully rotate around some different holdings belonging to group members. Ideally participants will attend all meetings, but within reason I will help you catch up if you miss one.

The indoor meetings will involve working together to formulate a group Holistic Goal as well as work on our own, and then working through the issues which come up using HM techniques appropriately. Participants will be expected to consider the material from meetings in the time in between and to work on it – and to bring examples from their own holding for the group to brainstorm over, as well as to do some 'prep' before we start! (To be attached here shortly)

You will also need to appreciate that this is going to be at least as much of a learning curve for me as for you, so constructive feedback is essential in helping me make this work for us all!