Way back in Issue #38 (we’re now on Issue #191), we featured Vermont regenerative farmers Jesse and Cally McDougall‘s (pictured above) Studio Hill Farm here in REVITALIZATION.
Now, he’s in the news again, as one of three newly-accredited Savory Hubs joining the Savory Global Network, which is one of the leading organizations working to accelerate the regenrative farming and regenerative ranching trends. Together they are known as regenerative agriculture, but the Savory Institute tends to use their own term: Holistic Management.
The other two new Savory Hubs are Suelos Vivos in Costa Rica and the Israel Hub for Land Regeneration in northern Israel.
Cally and Jesse McDougall first learned of Allan Savory—along with millions of others—in 2013, when Allan’s TED Talk was released.
At that point, they were new farmers using the reductionist management they had inherited from the previous generation of their family to farm the land.
In the two years they’d been farming, they had two off-the-farm jobs, two years of total crop loss, and two stomachs full of panic.
It was Allan’s TED Talk that first sparked a shift in their thinking from managing inputs to managing cycles—from a focus on extraction to a focus on healing.
That was the turning point. Ten years later, Studio Hill is thriving.
After early skeptical experiments yielded astonishing results, both Jesse and Cally took a deep dive into Holistic Management. This shift in their thinking and management framework enabled them to stop the downward spiral of reductionist agriculture, and restore hundreds of acres of their land from lifeless gravel to positive-feedback-loops of natural abundance.
Jesse now travels all over the region advocating for Holistic Management, teaches a popular course at Bennington College in Holistic Management, and is currently writing—what he hopes will be—a humorous book about the end of the world. Cally runs a popular and growing farm stays business on Studio Hill—hosting thousands of people every year who come to find hope in ecosystem restoration.
Both Cally and Jesse regard Studio Hill’s accreditation as a Savory Hub to be their proudest accomplishment to date. “We are grateful to be a part of such a wonderful global community of motivated, caring, and thoughtful people,” said Jesse. “We look forward to many years of learning as much as we can from the people who helped us resurrect this land that our family has loved, and depended on, for five generations.”
Studio Hill will now begin to offer courses in Holistic Management in their region—the first of which is scheduled for summer of 2023.
With these three new additions, the Savory Global Network now comprises 37 accredited Hubs across 23 countries. Additionally, there are 14 Hub candidates who are still undergoing their accreditation, an intensive 18-month pathway that includes a Holistic Management Comprehensive, mentoring, and the Hub Design Lab where each Hub develops and refines their regional impact plans.
“Each of the newly accredited hubs has a deep relationship with the Savory Institute and Savory Global Network,” said Abbey Kingdon-Smith, Global Network Coordinator of the Savory Institute. “We move at the speed of trust, taking the time to really know each other, and how to work together. They are each so committed to our shared mission to regenerate the world’s grasslands, and are already activating their region. It is so rewarding to take a moment and reflect on how far we have come together, and to know that we are in this work together.”
Here’s more info on the other two new Savory Hubs:
Suelos Vivos (Costa Rica)
The first Savory Hub located in Central America, Suelos Vivos is a project of Costa Rica Regenerativa which itself is a project of Universidad para la Cooperación Internacional. The university was founded in 1984 by Eduard Muller, a longtime friend of Savory’s who has been promoting sustainability and regenerative development his entire life.
Suelos Vivos has been working intensively with Holistic Management for the previous few years, having previously partnered with other Savory Hubs to offer trainings in Costa Rica and with multiple farms in their local network already managing holistically.
As a Savory Hub operating in a non-brittle and tropical region, Suelos Vivos looks forward to encouraging more people in Central America to discover Holistic Management and transition to regenerative farming and ranching.
Israel Hub for Land Regeneration (northern Israel)
Israel Hub for Land Regeneration (IHLR) is a non-profit organization registered in Israel whose mission is to support the transition of Israel and the region to regenerative agriculture, by training and supporting farmers, ranchers, and authorities in managing holistically.
Founded by Shira and Yam Goren, members of Kibbutz Mevo Hama (an agricultural cooperative), the communal herd covers 2300 hectares, with approximately 800 mother cows.
The climate is Mediterranean, with 8-9 months of a dry non-growing season, and the complexity is high with a communally-owned business, army territory, neighboring minefields, wolves, and jackals… never a dull moment!
Shira is a former tourism business owner who has worked extensively with communities on social issues. Yam is an experienced rancher, managing Mevo Hama’s cattle ranch, communal herd, and its pastures.
In Israel, Holistic Management is known of but not necessarily supported by the establishment, so IHLR aims to influence land management on a national scale. Connecting the institutions is therefore an important aspect of the Hub’s work, so they are working with two researchers studying their learning site to compare biomass, biodiversity, and soil parameters outcomes of conventional grazing versus Holistic Planned Grazing.
Photos courtesy of Studio Hill Farm.