Employee Management Training for Vegetable Farmers


The BTEC program is for:
Vegetable farm owners
Hired managers with at least 10 years of experience

The EMTBF program is for:
Hired farm managers with fewer than 10 years of experience 
Aspiring farm managers


REGISTRATION for 2023 BTEC Program Delivery is open!

See here for session delivery dates, and sign up today. 

Motivating and managing employees is essential to many diversified vegetable farms, and rare is the farmer who comes to this profession with those labor management skills in tow. These programs are designed to support both farm owners and hired farm managers who are eager to strengthen their hiring, supervision, and employee relations skills.


Research-based techniques and real world examples make these programs practical and useful for any vegetable farm owner or manager. Peer-to-peer discussion is core to both programs, and attendees will often learn as much from each other as they do from the trainers. 

Vegetable farm owners and managers co-created these programs, and each session is delivered by farmers and program staff.

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Sarah Janes Ugoretz  (she/her), Apprenticeship Program Manager

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 Becoming the Employer of Choice
for Vegetable Farmers 


“This program  has been a huge eye-opener and has helped me shape how I want to interact with my employees. I can’t say how amazing it’s been to hear everyone else’s stories - how you’re dealing with things and how you’re interacting with your employees. I feel so thankful for this community.” - Rufus Haucke, Farm Owner at Keewaydin Farms

Attracting and retaining workers can be tough in any sector, and vegetable farms are no exception. The work is physical, often seasonal, and not known for providing benefits like health insurance. This 9-part series will give you practical tools to make your farm an employer of choice by conducting a professional hiring experience, providing thoughtful onboarding and feedback, and supporting employees' intrinsic motivations. Most importantly, these tools will help you improve your employee relations and support an improved quality of life for both you and those you supervise. Whether you have worked with employees for many years or are in the early stages of hiring staff, this series has something for you.

Strategic Leadership:

This session explores emotional intelligence and different leadership styles – and how you can use these various skills to create a positive and rewarding work environment for both you and your employees.

Hiring the Right People:

This nuts and bolts session covers job descriptions, job applications, candidate interviews, and overall hiring protocols. A careful hiring process can attract candidates and help them succeed.


Employee Onboarding and Training:

Having formal tools and practices in place will support a smooth and professional onboarding process as new and returning employees come onto your farm. From employee handbooks and standard operating procedures to a thoughtful training plan, this session explores concrete actions you can take to set employees up for success.


Developing a Motivated Workforce:

Employees are motivated by extrinsic factors like wages and also by intrinsic factors like achievement, curiosity, and pride. This session examines internal motivation and details numerous ways you can support motivation on your farm.  


Farm Business Culture:

Your farm has a unique culture, and you are a big part of defining and conveying that culture to employees. We will explore your farm business culture and then talk through steps you can take to support trust, respect, creativity, and other elements of a positive work environment.  


Reviews and Feedback:

Providing employees with regular feedback is critical, and it can also be uncomfortable! This session provides practical tools to help you get comfortable with this very important aspect of being an employer. 


Managing Conflict:

When left unaddressed, unhealthy conflict can have long-lasting consequences. In this session, we explore common sources of conflict on the farm, our different styles of dealing with conflict, and how to actively move towards conflict resolution. 


Building Intercultural Competence as Farm Employers:

Communicating across differences can be both scary and tricky. This session explores some common missteps and offers suggestions for how to avoid them. 


Becoming an Ethical H-2A Employer:

Creating a welcoming and positive work environment for H-2A employees requires attention even after all the legal aspects are in order. This session covers concrete steps you can take to set H-2A employees up for success - from onboarding and training to relationship-building and more.

 Are you a farm owner or experienced manager interested in this training?
Are you an organization that would like to connect farmers to this training?
Let us know! CLICK HERE and we’ll be in touch.

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Employee Management Training for Beginning Farmers

“This is such a necessary program for farm managers. I’ve been to a bunch of sessions on how to actually run a farm, but it’s never about how to relate to your crew on an emotional level and in a way that makes people feel good and makes people good farmers.”  - 2022 training attendee

Hired farm managers play a crucial role on diversified vegetable farms. While having their production, maintenance, and organizational skills dialed in is a major part of the job, farm managers do so much more. They motivate and lead other employees, they support a positive workplace environment, and they keep tabs on unhealthy conflict - all while working closely with the farm owner to support a sustainable farm business. This 4-part series will provide current and aspiring farm managers with the foundational and practical skills they need to succeed.

Farm Managers as Leaders:

With support from their emotional intelligence skills and different leadership styles, this session explores how farm managers can put their leadership into action on the farm.

Communication and Delegation:

Communication plays an essential role on the farm. This session provides tools to help you strengthen both your verbal and nonverbal communication skills - including during times of stress and when it comes to delegating responsibilities.  


Delivering and Receiving Feedback:

Feedback is essential for learning and improvement, but it can be difficult to give and to receive. In this session, you'll gain practical tools to help you become more comfortable identifying which type of feedback is appropriate in a given situation. We also discuss tips to help you prepare to invite, receive, and respond to feedback when others share it with you. 


Recognizing and Addressing Conflict:

Unhealthy conflict doesn't tend to resolve itself, and when left unaddressed, the consequences can be far-reaching. In this session, we explore the different ways in which we react and respond to conflict. You'll leave with concrete tips on how to work through and ultimately resolve unhealthy conflict on the farm. 

Are you a current or aspiring farm manager interested in this training?
Are you an organization interested in connecting farm employees to this training?
Let us know! CLICK HERE and we’ll be in touch.

 Meet the Trainers!

Program Staff:

  • Claire Strader, University of Wisconsin, Extension in Dane County & FairShare

  • Sarah Janes Ugoretz, FairShare CSA Coalition

  • Alexia Kulwiec, University of Wisconsin, School for Workers

Farm Owner Trainers:

  • David Bachhuber, Lovefood Farm in Stoughton, WI

  • Kat Becker, Cattail Organics in Athens, WI

  • Katie Bishop, PrairiErth Farm in Atlanta, IL

  • Stacey Botsford, Red Door Family Farm in Athens, WI

  • Robyn Calvey, Park Ridge Organics in Fond du Lac, WI

  • Kristen Kordet, Blue Moon Community Farm in Stoughton, WI

  • Linda Halley, Gwenyn Hill Farm in Waukesha, WI

  • Michelle Week, Good Rain Farm in Gresham, OR

  • Cassie Wyss, Crossroads Community Farm in Cross Plains, WI


Farm Manager Trainers:

  • Abby Benson, Field Production Coordinator at Featherstone Farm in Rushford, MN

  • Jason Halm, Farm Manager at Green Earth Harvest in Naperville, IL

  • Rue Policastro, Field Manager at Owl's Nest Farm in Upper Marlboro, MD

  • Kim Sowinski, School Farm Assistant at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, IL

  • Katie Willis, Farmer & Native Plant Landscaper in Birmingham, AL