Atina's Blog

What is a Farm? A Synthesis of the Land, People, and Business.

Reflections, tips, and decision making tools from organic farmer-author Atina Diffley

Life Assessment Wheel

This Assessment measures your level of satisfaction and range of expression in nine life areas: work, fun, finances, physical environment, personal growth, health and well being, friends, family, and significant others. As you work through the assessment  you will likely identify areas where you are satisfied and other areas where you want to focus attention and  improve your level of satisfaction.

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Plan Ahead to Meet Your Personal Needs

Each of us has Personal Needs—beyond the basic needs of food and shelter—that must be met to be our best, to thrive. It is critical to meet these needs through positive activities and behaviors. When we don’t, we unconsciously find a way to meet them—often through behaviors that are ineffective or conflict with living a fulfilling life and having healthy relationships.

This document will walk you through understanding what your most important personal needs are and create a plan to meet them proactively.

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Roles and Responsibilities: “Who” Is Responsible For “What.”

This document provides a process for farms to:

• Define Roles and Responsibilities: Create a clear understanding of the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the individuals that are involved with your farm business.
• Define Decision-Making Responsibilities: Establish a clear understanding of who is responsible for which decisions.
• Create Information Sharing Systems: Establish what information needs to be shared for the individuals to accomplish their responsibilities in a timely and efficient manner, and what system(s) will be used.

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Criteria Screen

The criteria screen is a decision-making tool to evaluate strategies with criteria that reflect our needs and values, especially for big decisions that have a long term impact or affect multiple people. It:

• Provides a process to include and understand the values and needs of all of the stakeholders in a decision.
• Stimulates potential strategy ideas that are outside of our normal brain maps and routines.
• Guides evaluation of potential strategies as to how well they accomplish our Quality of Life criteria.
• Helps us decide what matters most. We might not be able to meet all of our criteria to a maximum level.

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Create A Holistic Goal

A “holistic goal” is a three-part goal from a school of thought called Holistic Management. It describes:
1. Quality of Life: What we really want our lives to be.
2. Forms of Production: What we must commit to in order to produce the quality of life we want.
3. Resource Base: Our ideal farm– the future resource base the forms of production depend on.

The three parts are all critical to a comprehensive holistic goal that can guide our decisions and actions toward the lives we want. Management that fulfills the obligations we have to ourselves, our families, our environment, and our communities can only succeed in the context of a journey toward a holistic goal. Without the broad base of a holistic goal, we may well accomplish a goal we’ve stated, but with unintended consequences.

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Weakest Link

A process of continuous improvement that addresses the weakest link for your farm is a critical practice to accomplishing your goals and financial viability.

“One, and only one, weakest link accounts for the strength of the entire chain, regardless of how strong other links might be. To strengthen a chain one must always attend first to the weakest link. Other links, no matter how frail they appear, are essentially non-problems until the weakest link is first fixed.” – Allan Savory, Jody Butterfield, Holistic Management

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Action Plan

Have you ever been to a meeting where people say they will do certain things, and the next time, and the next time, they are still undone?

Or plan to do something only to find you don’t have the resources you need, or an unanticipated challenge presents itself?

Or maybe you need a system to implement, track, and evaluate progress.

An Action Plan can help make it happen!

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Time Management and The Eisenhower Box

On a farm there is always more to do than time to do it. Time management skills are critical to accomplish our goals. 

This document will help you prioritize based on urgency and importance and schedule tasks to minimize crisis-based management.

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Food Safety Powerpoint Slides

1. FS Introduction 2. Training & Health & Hygiene 3. Land Use 2 4. Post Harvest 5. Water, BSA, Animals copy 6. Records and Traceability

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Time Management & The Eisenhower Box

On a farm there is always more to do than time to do it. Time management skills and systems are crucial for prioritizing daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, delegation decisions, annual planning, economic viability, meeting market demands, and accomplishing a healthy personal life. Put simply, effective time management is a fundamental and crucial component of…

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Active Listening to Improve On-Farm Communication

The ultimate goal of active listening is to truly understand the person who is speaking. It is not necessary to agree with them, or change their perspective. Using these approaches may feel awkward at first. This list is handy to remind yourself how to integrate these new methods.

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Seed Beds International!

Since my last post was on the how-to of field grown, bare-root transplant production—which was a common practice in the USA, pre-greenhouse plastic—I am excited to share these photos I recently took in a Kerch, Russia farmers market. The farmer was selling cabbage, pepper, and tomato bare-root transplants. I had a lively sign language conversation…

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