Farm Coaching: Supporting Relationships for Farm Success – Personal Financial Health

Farm barn

The Land & Water Lunchbox Series starts March 28!

This series will provide opportunities to share what’s on your mind about the stresses of farming land and sea. It’s a safe space, facilitated by 2-3 members of the UMaine Farm Coaching team. Participants do not need to be on camera and can choose to be anonymous.

These sessions will not be recorded. The session will last one hour and participants may be invited into breakout rooms if affinity groups emerge, based on what the group needs.

Registrants will be limited to a maximum of 20 people. This event is free of charge and the Zoom link will be emailed to registrants. See the Upcoming Trainings tab to sign up.

Farm Coaching

Coaching for Personal and Financial Health and Communication in 2024 is open to mid to late career farmers and farm teams in Maine with at least Five year’s experience. As farm businesses grow beyond start-up and move into the “re-strategizing phase,” human risks become more complex. What worked in the beginning requires culling and refinement as the business grows. The topics that relate to this project include:

  • sustainability in farm families and farm teams
  • leadership development for farm managers
  • labor management
  • financial literacy
  • record keeping

What is Coaching?

You identify the issues and you meet with two coaches at the frequency of your choice. Multiple sessions will give you time to identify challenges and opportunities, develop a plan, and work together to make clear decisions. One-time coaching can help you organize your thoughts and think through the next steps with the farm, co-workers, sense of purpose, and family relationships. Farm coaching provides two coaches who will support your goals and ideas for the farm. If desired, you can request a referral to mediation or counseling.

Coaching works best when the farm team is also exploring:

  • communicating with internal (management team, employees, or family members) and external (customers, other farms, service providers) supports
  • family transitions and farm succession
  • work/life balance
  • team building and how to delegate

Farm coaching helps managers /co-managers or management teams (including but not limited to farm couples) build management and communication skills including a specialized focus on personal financial health and communication.

For farmers with 5 years + experience, farm coaching provides:

  • Workshops offered on “Communicating about Personal Money Values and Personal Money Goals” and learning from farmers their strategies for successful personal financial planning
  • Structured opportunities for reflection and assessment to identify growth edges and understanding their own needs and challenges in discussing personal financial topics.
  • Coaching sessions on the farm in person or remotely using Zoom
  • 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 goals and provide resources and work with you to develop personalized communication plans that incorporate personal financial goals.

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.

Feeling Stressed?

  • 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 “988” or 800-273-8255
  • StrengthenME  207-221-8198 (8am-8pm)

Your wellness matters! Visit Maine FRSAN’s Agricultural Resilience page to learn more about stress and wellness in agriculture.

Conflict Resolution Support Available for Farmers

If you would like help with a difficult conversation that affects the farm, mediation can help. This free service in Maine can help farms work through conversations and decisions with a lender, a neighbor, a business partner, a family member, and more. Visit the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program for more information.

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.

Want to Start a Farm?

If you are a beginning farmer looking for help to start your farm or business planning support, start with this online new farmer self-assessment. Check out the Maine New Farmer program as you decide if farming is right for you, once you complete the self-assessment, a member of the coaching team, or staff from UMaine Extension in your county will contact you.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2021‐70027‐34693

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 supported farmers through the development of a farm coaching program. In 2023 the focus hones in on coaching for personal and financial health.

Way back 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.