Farm Coaching: Supporting Relationships for Farm Success

Farm barnBuild competency and capacity as a manager and decision maker on the farm with individualized coaching.  

This opportunity is open to all farms in Maine.

Farm managers /co managers or management teams (including but not limited to farm couples) can take advantage of this customized learning opportunity to build management and communications skills.

If you aren’t farming yet, start with this online new farmer self-assessment.

Coaches offer:

  • Structured opportunities for reflection and assessment to identify growth edges
  • Support for individualized clear goal setting for learning and skill building
  • Between 1-4 sessions that are free and scheduled at your convenience

Coaches support your learning goals and growth edge with resources and personalized plans for your farm.

Thinking about starting farming?

If you are still deciding if farming is right for you, please fill out this online new farmer self-assessment. A member of the coaching team, or staff from UMaine Extension in your county will contact you.

Farmers choose one or multiple areas for growth and development:

  • Planning
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Handling Conflict

Farm Coaching Request

Thank you for reaching out. Use this form to request a quick chat or learn more about signing up for multiple sessions of farm coaching. A member of the farm coaching team will contact you to talk more about what you need.
  • How can we help? A brief description is all that is needed.
  • How would you like us to contact you?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Effective communication and attention to the relationships between partners, spouses, employees, apprentices, and family members are vital to a farm’s success. Farm coaching is a time for you and your team to plan and problem solve ways to make your farm a better place to live and work.

What is Farm Coaching?

A four-session program for farmers to identify challenges and opportunities, develop a plan, and work together to make clear decisions. We also provide one-time coaching sessions to help you organize your thoughts and think through the next steps with the farm and family. Farm coaching is a time to talk with two coaches who will support your goals and ideas for the farm. If desired, you can request a referral to mediation or counseling.

Farming and Stress

  • Call “911” if you are in crisis and need immediate assistance.
  • Other helpful warmlines and hotlines for help:
  • FarmAid Hotline 1-800-327-6243 (1-800-FarmAid; M-F 9-5)
  • Maine Intentional Warmline 1.866.771.9276 (WARM) (24/7 availability)
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255
  • StrengthenME  207-221-8198 (8am-8pm)

Mediation is Available for Farmers

If you would like a neutral third party to be present for a conversation with a lender, a neighbor, a family member, etc. the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program may be able to help.

More Ideas for farm, family, and business communication, goal setting, and decision making on the farm to start now with your farm team.

Small Bites are brief reads for ideas and new practices to try.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28588

Northeast Extension Risk Management Education logo   USDA logo

History of the Project

In 2016, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Farmer Resource Network (formerly the Beginning Farmer Resource Network) started a project focused on farmers and social sustainability. The project began with a survey to better understand the needs of beginning farmers (in their first 10 years) with respect to the social, emotional, and relational issues that arise. It was generously funded by Northeast Sustainable Agriculture, Research, and Education.

Through grants from Northeast Extension Risk Management Education in 2019 and 2020, this work directly supports farmers through the development of a farm coaching program.

In the fall of 2016, we began to explore the specific interpersonal and relational needs of beginning farmers at different points of time in farming with a survey. We developed a DACUM, or “job description” of beginning farmers and to create a profile that included interpersonal skills and needs (New England Small Farm Institute, 2000). Providers were part of a cohort that developed written resource materials for use by other providers to help in their work with farmers.

A Toolkit was created for service providers to use during one-on-one consultations that include questions, prompts, and additional resources, as needed. The toolkit includes the following areas:

  • Beginning Farmer Learning Stages: Identifying the gaps in new farmer training models and learning about how interpersonal needs may change with development of the farm business or as family priorities change. For the purposes of this project, “interpersonal skills” included:
    • Communication: Identifying the relationships and roles on the farm and tools to improve communication between family members, farm partners, employees, customers, and other decision makers.
    • Decision-making: Utilizing existing tools to prioritize tasks and plan in advance
    • Goal-setting: Developing tools for assisting farmers in prioritization of farm, business, and family goals.
    • Time Management: Utilizing existing resources to assist farmers in optimizing farm roles and responsibilities.