Keeping vegetable farmers growing through one-on-one professional peer coaching

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2023: $49,970.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: FairShare CSA Coalition
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Beth Knorr
FairShare CSA Coalition


  • Vegetables: Mixed vegetables


  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, farmer to farmer, networking
  • Farm Business Management: labor/employment
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, leadership development, local and regional food systems, quality of life, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    Over the last 10 years, FairShare’s network of diversified vegetable farmers has seen an increasing number of experienced growers exit the industry – an observation shared by partnering organizations in the Midwest Vegetable Growers (MVEG) network. From climate change and labor shortages to narrow profit margins and poor quality of life, fewer growers are able to envision a future for themselves in farming. In partnership with farmers who have identified this need, this project will explore peer-to-peer farm coaching as an innovative tool to support established farmers and keep them farming. Guided by certified coaches who have extensive experience as producers themselves, farmers will build key skills that help them make decisions that support both their business and life goals. By engaging farmers before they feel like exiting is their only option, coaching will connect them with the right support at the right time. We will reach farmers through several outlets, including: the MVEG network, which is led by FairShare and operates in WI, MN, IL, IA, IN, OH, MO, and MI; FairShare’s network of over 350 producers and agricultural professionals; and nearly 30 farmers who have already registered their strong demand for this service. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Establish a peer-to-peer farm coaching program serving diversified vegetable producers across the north central region.
    2. Enhance alignment between producers' business plans and their skills, interests, and values. 
    3. Keep farmers farming through increased business success and improved quality of life.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.