An important town hall meeting for Rappahannock farmers is being held at the Link in Sperryville on Jan. 25 from 10 to 3 p.m.
Holistic Management International (holisticmanagement.org) is partnering with the county to put on this program on the principles and tools HMI practices throughout the country. While the Jan. 25 workshop will be interesting and educational to all, the real benefit to the county farmers and community will come from a yearlong program that HMI will facilitate for the 5 to 10 farmers who agree to spend the next year putting these practices to use on their own farms. These management practices are adaptable to different types of land management all over the world so orchardists, row crop and vegetable farmers as well as our traditional grazing farmers should all benefit.
HMI will have a consultants come to Rappahannock four more times over the year to work with the farmers who commit to participate, and these farmers will also meet periodically to encourage each other. At the end of the year, there will be another town hall meeting where the participating farmers and HMI will share what has been learned during the year long program.
As one example of the quality of instructors, Ian Mitchell-Innes from South Africa will spend four days in the county in March. He will do a pasture walk on one of the farms for the public on one day, and the other three will be spent working with the participating farmers on their farms on pasture management and financial tools to improve the profitability of the farms.
The participating farmers will be the direct recipients of intensive work with one of the international leaders in pasture management who spends six months a year consulting in the U.S. for HMI. He is one of the four HMI consultants who will be made available during the year.
HMI is excited to design this pilot program focusing on our rural, agricultural county at no cost to the participating farms. The Rappahannock Board of Supervisors has supported the program with $2,000, county citizens have committed $8,000 more and HMI is getting grants for the remainder of the $35,000 yearlong program.
If you are interested in the Jan. 25 program, please register with Cooperative Extension Agent Kenner Love at 540-675-3619.