Professional Coaching by farmers for farmers
Farming is a profession, but any farmer would probably tell you that it’s also a lifestyle. While the work is deeply rewarding, it can also be all-consuming. Too many farmers are feeling too exhausted, and many are struggling to envision a long-term future for themselves in farming. Farm coaching seeks to disrupt the status quo - to acknowledge that there is a way to farm that doesn’t require endless personal sacrifice as a prerequisite for success.
Guided by certified coaches who have extensive experience as producers themselves, you’ll build key skills to help you make decisions that support both your farm business and your quality of life goals. Coaching is about listening and learning. It’s about working through and towards something that will make a positive difference in your life. Ultimately, coaching will help you build your competence and capacity in ways that matter to you.
“Unlike a business consultant who gives advice or a therapist who focuses on listening, a farm coach helps you reveal answers, goals, and direction that comes from within yourself and your operation.”
- Kendyl Meadows, Farmer
What does the farm coaching process involve?
STEP 1: SIGN UP
Complete a brief sign-up form. Upon review, we will connect you with a certified, professional farm coach for a no-obligations exploratory call.
STEP 2: EXPLORATION
During the exploratory call, you and your coach will discuss your specific needs and interests, what’s involved in the coaching process, and whether you and your coach feel like a good fit. At this point, you’ll also decide if you’d like to officially move forward with coaching.
STEP 3: COACHING
Next, you’ll work with your coach to schedule 5 coaching sessions over the course of the next year. Sessions take place over the phone or Zoom, based on your preference, and are tailored to your unique situation. In between your formal sessions, you may also have brief support calls with your coach on an as-needed basis.
How much time should I expect to invest in coaching?
Beyond the 5 hours of active coaching sessions, you might expect to spend between 5 to 10 hours of outside work on coaching-related activities. These details will vary depending on your specific needs and may include things you had already been planning to do for your farm business.
I’m a farmer, so how could I possibly engage in coaching during the growing season?
Coaching shouldn’t turn into yet another task to check off your list. It needs to work for you, which means the process has to be flexible. You might feel like you can make the most progress during the growing season, while you're engaging with coaching and taking action in the moment. Or maybe you like the idea of starting with one or two in-season sessions and then spreading things out a bit. Whatever your preference, you'll work with your coach to identify a schedule that makes sense.
Farm Coaching Pricing
An NCR-SARE Partnership Grant is currently subsidizing the cost of farm coaching services through the Peer-to-Peer Farm Coaching program. The direct cost to Midwest vegetable farmers is currently $400, with the remaining $800 covered through grant funding. These funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once they expire, the full cost to farmers will be $1,200.
Farmers who utilize grant funds are required to complete 3 brief surveys over the duration of their coaching services. We may also request that farmers provide a testimonial about their experience with the Peer-to-Peer Farm Coaching program.
Have a question or two before taking the next step? Reach out to Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the COACHES
I am excited to work with farmers who want to collaborate with a thought partner to improve an area of their farm or personal life. I’m especially passionate to coach farmers who find themselves second-guessing decisions, overworking, or struggling with anxiety. Coaching has brought me and my clients a kinder inner voice and more ease in day-to-day life, and my wish is for farmers to experience the same.
My varied work and life path affords me a wide range of perspectives, including how to skillfully navigate transitions. I grew up around family farms, managed my own organic vegetable farm, and led initiatives to energize the local food movement. My interest in health and wellness also led me into a 12-year nursing career. In coaching the past 2 years, I have found these experiences help me bring fresh eyes to the challenges my clients face.
As a coach, I see my job as showing up with respect, openness, empathy, and a commitment to speaking the truth. My client's job is to bring expertise on their life and a willingness to question, explore, and play. As your coach, I am a champion on your behalf, and I expect to be amazed.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent my career in farming - both as a farmer and helping farmers. As a former organic vegetable and small livestock farmer, I understand the highs and lows that come with owning a farm, managing people, raising a family, and farming with a spouse.
I took that experience and transitioned into helping farmers with production, organic certification, and regulatory challenges as an organic resource specialist with MOSES (now Marbleseed). Although organic vegetables and livestock was my focus in my early years, my move to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture (DATCP) allowed me to build on that experience and add dairy farmers to my knowledge base.
My time at the Wisconsin Farm Center was focused on assisting dairy farmers with farm financials, transition and succession work, and coaching them through the rewarding yet often stressful day-to-day of being a dairy farmer. Whether it was tough economic decisions or mediation of family dynamics, I was able to coach them in finding successful outcomes.
Coaching is a partnership. Everyone has the answers they need inside them – most simply need someone to talk to who can help them discover the positive outcomes and solutions they want. I’m very excited to continue my life’s work with farmers, as a coach and partner.
Farmers are resilient, ingenious alchemists who create nourishment and beauty in the face of much adversity. I empower farmers to claim and create businesses, communities, and lives full of the balance and clarity they yearn for. I am your trusted advisor. I am your advocate. I am your cheerleader.
Having operated my own successful organic farm for 15 years, I am distinct as a coach in that I bring deep compassion and nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities farmers face. I’m a certified coach and am well-versed in employee management and leadership.
There was a point in my farming career when I became viciously burnt out. A card-carrying member of the hustle and grind culture, I no longer remembered why I was farming in the first place. I was miserable. Working with a skilled life coach enabled me to create an energetically sustainable life and career centered around joy and purpose. I can help you do the same.
Advisory Team members
Zachary Austin, Farmer at Full Circle Community Farm in WI
Katie Bishop, Farm Coach
Leslie Forstadt, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Chris McGuire, Farmer at Two Onion Farm in WI
Kendyl Meadows, Farmer at Three Creeks Produce in OH
Julie Perkins, Farmer at Perkins' Good Earth Farm in IN
Claire Strader, UW-Extension - Dane County
Angie Sullivan, Farm Coach
John Williams, Farmer at Sola Gratia Farm in IL
Doug Wubben, Farm Coach
*With support provided by Sarah Janes Ugoretz of FairShare CSA Coalition