Coaching and Business Planning Services

Looking for some help planning a farm business?

Farmers reviewing recordsThe Intervale Center’s Farms Program and Beginning Farmer Program help new farmers overcome barriers to entry and promote the development of responsible farm management.

Intervale’s Beginning Farmer Program offers information, assistance, and encouragement to beginning farmers in the state of Vermont in two ways: Coaching services and business planning services.

1. Coaching Services are available for beginning farmers who have questions about their business or a specific resource. Sessions last from 1-2 hours.

“At the end of a coaching session a farmer comes away with a learning plan that includes prioritized learning areas, objectives, and steps to reach those objectives,” says the Intervale’s Beginning Farmer Specialist Maggie Donin. The goal is to help new and aspiring farmers take practical steps toward building a farm business.

“When I first started working with my farm advisor I had 20 ideas, and I probably wanted to try to do 10 of them,” says one program participant. “But then they were like, forget the 20 ideas and forget the 10 ideas, you need to focus on 1 or 2.”

2. Business Planning services are available to beginning farmers who are interested in in-depth work related to their farm business.

“Through these services, participants identify strengths and weaknesses, set goals and create a vision,” Donin says. Participants may also receive help with financial analysis, enterprise budgeting, cash flow planning, and developing full business plans. Consulting services are also available for specific production and business related topics.

“Business planning requires participating farmers to commit time to meetings, homework, and program assessment,” Donin explains. “It usually involves up to 40 hours of work with an Intervale staff member over 3-6 months.” The business planning process, report participants, are key to making good decisions.

“It painted as accurate a picture as you can have of what was probable, what [the farm business] was going to look like,” says one farmer. “That accurate picture … allowed me to make what I think was the best decision at the time.”

Interested?  Contact Maggie Donin at maggie@intervale.org or (802) 660-0440 ext. 116.  This work is supported with generous funding from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Working Lands Enterprise Board. 

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About UVM New Farmer Project

The UVM Extension New Farmer Project draws together information and resources within Extension and the broader Vermont Agriculture community to assist new farmers in creating successful ag businesses.
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