Thursday, May 15, 2014

Local couple one of 10 2014 Savory Institute Hub candidates in the world

This year, 90 applications from 25 countries were submitted to the Savory Institute in hopes of bringing a Savory Hub to their region. Spencer and Abbey Smith were one of those applicants. They described a learning center and demonstration ranch called the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management that would serve Northern California and the Western Great Basin--exposing a method of land and resource management to people that regenerates land through production instead of depleting it. The method is called holistic management. 

“Our vision is of a hub that strengthens rural communities, decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfire in our forests, improves soil health and biodiversity,” Spencer said.

Spencer and Abbey qualified as finalists--one of 10 in the world. Other 2014 hub candidates are from the Southwest, Midwest and Northeast United States, Mexico, Ethiopia and Kenya.  The Savory Institute Hub program began in 2013.

Abbey (Kingdon) Smith grew up in Taylorsville, Calif.  and graduated from Greenville High School. Spencer andAbbey’s daughter Maezy is a seventh-generation Kingdon. Abbey credits her wonderful childhood and big, loving family with her deep commitment to improving rural communities and the land. Abbey graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and from the University of Nevada, Reno with a master’s in interactive journalism. She is a digital manager with Swift Communications, Inc. in Reno, Nev.

Spencer Smith grew up in Fort Bidwell, Calif. and graduated from Surprise Valley High School. His passion for ranching and land management started at a young age working alongside his parents on their cattle ranch. He graduated from Chico State with a bachelor’s degree in ag business. He is a livestock manager for Stix Cattle Co. headquartered in Fernley, Nev.

The couple lives in the Rancho Haven area north of Reno.

A hub in our region means connecting our communities--ranchers, farmers, land owners, urban farmers--to the methods, tools and practices of the Savory Institute. The demonstration ranch is located in Fort Bidwell, Calif. Workshops, bootcamps, one-day trainings and even month-long holistic management internships will be held at the ranch.

“We will offer our region the access to all Savory Institute training programs and help becoming an accredited SI professional. The ranch will allow people to learn by doing and to participate in a holistically managed operation,”Abbey said.

 The couple will also serve the region through off-site workshops and land management consultations. Their vision includes developing a labeling program for products from holistically managed lands.

“Our demonstration ranch will be holistically managed; producing beef in a way that helps improve soil health, decrease carbon emissions and slows climate change,” Spencer said.

The next step is to get Abbey and Spencer to Africa. Becoming an accredited Savory Institute Hub requires an intensive "hub bootcamp" at the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Also, they must become accredited trainers in order to effectively manage holistically and teach others these methods. They will be trained at the Savory Institute in Boulder, Colorado. 

 Tre' Cates, COO of the Savory Institute.Org said, "We are very excited to have Abbey and Spencer as members of the 2014 Hub Candidates.  Having a presence in Northern California and the Western Great Basin will be valuable to regenerating soils and local communities."    

The couple has set up a Kickstarter project to help fund this project and help our region host one of the first Savory Institute hubs in the world.

“This hub is bigger than Spencer and me,” Abbey said, “it will take the whole community to make it happen.”