Most farmers could talk for days about soil pH, tractor implements, and seed varieties. When it comes to producing vegetables and stewarding the land, their technical expertise is dialed in. But when the conversation turns to supporting a crew of humans, farmers often feel like they could use some support. This was the feedback we heard loud and clear back in 2019, when we first wrote a grant to fund our work on the Becoming the Employer of Choice program - or BTEC for short.
BTEC is a training program focused on helping farm producers become more skilled and confident in their role as farm employers. Fortunately, an employee management training blueprint already existed! The University of Wisconsin-Extension created the original BTEC program in order to serve the state’s dairy farmers. Through close partnership with 8 farm owners - and a lot of working meetings! - FairShare and Extension staff began to modify the program, ultimately creating a 9-session version of BTEC that meets the unique needs of diversified vegetable growers.
What do we think is special about the BTEC program? For starters, each session is co-delivered by a farmer trainer and a FairShare staff member. This keeps peer-to-peer learning and discussion front and center - something we know farmers value. And while grounded in research, BTEC content is very practical, which helps