“Quality of Life, forms of production, and future resource base goals have to be combined into one comprehensive, holistic goal. Otherwise decisions could be made in support of one aspect, while damaging another.” from Holistic Management
”The holistic goal is a goal that embraces human values and links them as one indivisible entity to economies and the environment.” -Allan Savory
The holistic goal is the manifesto; it outlines the vision, mission, and goals of the farm. In any good permaculture design, one must first get a sense of the clients’ needs and desires. In this case, the clients are not just the landlords, but include the entire group of stakeholders. Since the current members of the farm are much more transient than the landlord, new residents will arrive and become stakeholders. I did my best to represent the generations of student-members that came before me, so that the wisdom and lessons of past experience would be represented in the current group. According to Alan Savory, creating the holistic goal is the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of holistic management. I went about drafting a holistic goal for the farm based on my understanding from being at the farm and getting to know the landlord’s values as well as past and present members. Then, I called a meeting to bring everyone together and had each person take time to write down what they felt was the purpose of Prairie Song Farm, what ideal qualities of life they envision having here, and what forms of production would be required to bring about those qualities of life, then finally what the future resource based would need to look like for their values and vision to be fulfilled long into the future. This took about an hour. Then we all shared what each had written, and I took all their notes and synthesized the holistic goal below later that week. As time goes on the group should revisit what was created and adjust or revise as needed so that it most accurately expresses the true desires of the whole.
My design will be based on the holistic goal that was formed by the current group, as well as the intelligence of the land (as much as possible). So future members will need to be aligned with the vision, mission, and goals set herein. This will give Jeffrey and Linda (landowners) something consistent as they deal with high turnover among residents. Included in the holistic goal below is also an acknowledgment of the changing nature of things, and a willingness to change guidelines and systems according to new information and conditions. If at any point, the values and vision of the whole do change, this document should be revisited and revised accordingly so that it remains meaningful and useful. So long as it is current and/or relevant, this document can be used as a measure for potential partners or new members to see if their values and goals are aligned with those at the farm. It can and should also be used by current members to help assess potential new members, new projects and activities. As new members outlast old members, the farm may find that no current member actually participated in this process of forming the holistic goal (besides the landlord); when this happens, I suggest reviewing the holistic goal as a group to make sure it still resonates. It is only valuable as a living document.
The Holistic Goal
There holistic goal contains four primary sections: Statement of Purpose, Quality of Life, Forms of Production, and Future Resource Base. Each section builds on the next, and descriptions of each section are given briefly next to each heading title.
Statement of Purpose – The overarching mission
To build a resilient community that provides opportunities for people to learn how to live in harmony with each other and the cosmos.
Quality of Life – A description of how we want our life to be, in the context of the farm, based on what we most value
Life at the farm is latent with an underlying peace and fosters harmony in diversity. We live together honestly, passionately, and creatively in community. Our work is inspired by our individual passions, yet contributes toward a shared purpose. We want to develop an infrastructure and landscape that generates long-term food self-sufficiency, energy and water independence, and economic abundance; this involves commitment to necessary systems of organization to maintain what is developed, revising systems as needed to respond to changing conditions and new information. We want to share the lessons and opportunities from the farm to the community of Fairfield and beyond. And we want to help build a place where future generations can grow up naturally, comfortably and without fear.
Forms of Production – What we have to produce to fulfill the purpose of Prairie Song Farms and create the qualities of life that we desire
- Community celebrations and activities that foster community spirit
- An environment that is open to art, music, dancing, social gatherings, and other aspects of life that generally promote richness, creativity and fun
- Comfortable, functional, and energy efficient dwellings
- Renewable energy for electrical needs, and load calculations for existing structures
- Plants for food and medicine, and care taking guidelines to support their growth and use
- Food processing and storage space
- Systems of organization that support orderliness and maintenance of community spaces and equipment
- Community kitchen use
- Living room and porch use
- Tools use
- Trash and recycling protocol
- Greenhouse use
- Methods of communication to help us harmonize our activities, including systems of accountability for project planning/implementation/maintenance
- A project proposal form
- Protocol for considering/accepting new members
- A budget for annual expenses or proposed projects
- Safeguards against too much structure that would impede or discourage creative experiments
- A practical knowledge base to share with the community
- A living library of contacts, neighbors, friends, products and service providers in the community (Action Plan, Google group)
- An interactive website that exposes our purpose and activities to the world wide web, and high-speed web access that enables us to connect to people, places, projects and ideas that will help support the purpose of PSF
- Documentation of the process (videos and blogs on the website) to share with future members and others who will benefit from learning from our process (successes and failures) ***NO SUCH THING AS FAILURE, ONLY FEEDBACK!***
Future Resource Base – how it must be many years from now if it is to sustain what you have to produce to create the quality of life you want.
We are a notoriously fun and creative bunch to be around. Our diverse personalities and interests attracts a diversity of people, friends and partners who want to work, play and collaborate with use. Our reputation evokes a sense of interest because of the innovative nature of the farm; our reputation also evokes a sense of respect and emulation for our work ethic, creativity and integrity. Several people live and work at the Farm full-time, providing consistency and experience to oversee the implementation of a master plan. The people at the Farm are nourished by abundance from the land, and find great ways to support themselves financially, materially, and spiritually.
Prairie Song Farm is strongly benefitted by the influx of people in Fairfield and students at MUM, which infuse the community with creative energy and resources; our connection with students and faculty at MUM inspires collaboration with university departments to support mutual goals.
The gardens are fertile and resilient, and provide ideal habitat for beneficial microorganisms and insects, as well as invisible devas and spirits of the land. The gardens serve as a teaching tool for low-input, low maintenance, high yielding food and medicine production; soils are de-compacted and aerated.
Grasslands are drought resistant and highly productive, mimicking the native oak-savannah ecosystem while producing an abundance of food for the entire food chain – from microorganisms to animals to people. Soils are de-compacted, aerated, and free of erosion.
The woods are abundant in fuel, building materials, food and medicine, making use of microclimates and niche habitats to support wildlife and human life.
Wetlands and valleys show now signs of erosion, and are filled with species that thrive in waterlogged conditions; biodiversity supports a healthy nutrient-cycle that makes optimal use of available water and food.
Prairies are filled with the highest possible diversity of native species, and are properly managed and burned for accelerated nutrient cycling and to prevent succession into shrub-land and wood land.
The pond is stocked with fish and other elements of a healthy aquatic ecosystem; the water is clean and free of toxic contaminants so that people plants and animals can benefit from harmonious use of its elements.