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Question for Darren

Posts: 180
Location: Missouri/Iowa border
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In a podcast I heard a few months ago (I want to say it was Chris Steltzer maybe) I heard you say that you grew up on a farm and that through bad policy or stewardship or whatnot that the farm had to be sold.

I want to know you're opinion on how to convert a typical farm/farmer from a broad scale row crop commodity/cattle farm to something more sustainable. Have you had any luck in transitioning farmers with half a century in one manner of thinking to a more sustainable model?

That being said, I am the eldest son on a 700 acre family farm in Missouri. I'm not yet a permaculture designer but I am taking the Permaethos course online. I am currently to the process of doing my design and am basically making up a white paper outlining the weaknesses and downfalls of the current system, with a list of possible solutions. Any thoughts on the viability of this tactic?
Posts: 33
Location: Bendigo Region, Victoria, Australia
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Great question Nicholas,

Your first question is about the 'Diffusion of Innovation' and following is a copy of the page on this from my book, the Regrarians Handbook:

We have had success in getting people with very long experience in changing production practices yes. It starts with understanding the Diffusion of Innovation and then designing pathways to work through this.

The Keyline Design, Carbon Farming and RegenAG workshop series I originated and oversaw from 2007 & 2011 were great examples of my strategy in action where we had a whole series of trainings which

1. Dealt with the Climate via Holistic Management training with Kirk Gadzia of RMSGadzia.com
2. Dealt with the soil biology and mineral needs/transitions via training with Elaine Ingham of SoilFoodWeb.com initially and then with Eugenio Gras of MasHumus.com
3. Dealt with the physical farm plan with me through my Keyline training
4. Dealt with relationships, integrated production systems, processing, logistics and marketing with Joel Salatin of PolyfaceFarms.com

These were 4 x 3-4 day events that created a wave of change as they were targeted at the needs of producers across Australia, the USA and Europe and with most that have shifted practices as a result there has been little recitivism since.

Where I am now after creating this approach and watching it unfold is that this only increases my opinion of the effectiveness of a holistic and process-driven pedagogy. This is a serious business with some serious quantities of cash involved, notwithstanding the longstanding intergenerational stewardship principles and personal relationships that many people see as being important in their lives.

So my approach now is to take a deep breath and finish my book, as I believe, as do a number of others, that the pedagogy that comes from it will be successful in helping people transition from where they are to where they want to be.

We are by no-means hubric to the point where we're suggesting our pedagogy or approach will be the be all and end all and so we support people doing Holistic Management courses, particularly through the Savory Institute, doing some online or in-person Permaculture trainings and also seeking out the many public:private educational opportunities available.

I would also recommend getting a copy of Joel Salatin's 'Fields of Farmers' book and sharing that or copies of it with your family to get the conversation going around succession and the enormous opportunities that exist in AG in the world today, particularly in the US where you have such a large population and populations close to production landscapes...

Good on you for taking these steps Nicholas and power to you mate, you are certainly not alone in this plight and so getting out there and talking about it is a really great thing to do...

Cheers, Darren
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