A pilot project that matches new farmers looking to get their start in B.C. agriculture with available fertile farmland in the Metro Vancouver area will kick off in 2018, thanks to a $25,000 investment from the governments of Canada and British Columbia.
"The Government of Canada is proud to partner with B.C. Agriculture to help new and young farmers gain access to the fertile farming land in southern B.C.,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “This investment will help create opportunities for young and beginning farmers, leading to economic growth and helping to strengthen our middle class."
The project is led by the Young Agrarians, in partnership with Farm Folk City Folk Society. This Metro Vancouver project builds on the success of a two-year pilot in partnership with the City of Surrey, and in collaboration with Quebec’s L’ARTERRE. It addresses a major challenge for new farmers – gaining access to expensive land in Southern B.C.
“My mandate includes getting more young people farming, and making sure that they have the land to farm on through projects like the Metro Vancouver land-matching project is an essential first step,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Part of why we established Grow BC was to help young farmers access land. I believe strongly that agriculture has the potential to unlock prosperity throughout our entire province, and we need farmland and farmers to make that happen.”
The previous Surrey pilot matched new farmer Roger Woo with David Feldhaus, a local land owner. Woo, a former chef with a passion for local, organically grown and sustainably farmed produce, was just the type of person that Feldhaus was searching for when he was looking to expand agricultural activity on his farmland.
“I knew I wanted to farm in B.C., but I saw significant challenges to acquiring the appropriate farmland in the Lower Mainland,” said Woo. “Through the land-matching program, I’ve been able to find a supportive land owner who has agreed to let me farm his land. I came to this process with my farm dream, and have received step-by-step support to make it a reality.”
The land-matching project screens owners of underutilized land and farmers ready to start a business, and supports the parties in the development of legal contracts. The goal is to create seven to nine new farm operations in the region in 2018 with secure leasing agreements.
“For years we have wanted to make a positive change with our farm,” said Feldhaus. “In a short time, the Young Agrarians were able to understand our needs and the goals that we had for our farm, and helped guide us through the land-matching process, matching us with a great young farmer. Seeing our fields blooming with row after row of organic vegetables is proof of the value provided by the land-matching program.”
The Metro Vancouver land-matching project is supported through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a five-year framework that co-ordinates federal, provincial and territorial agricultural policy and programs. The five-year GF2 policy framework came into effect on April 1, 2013, and provides a $3-billion federal, provincial and territorial government investment in innovation, competitiveness and market development.
“We are excited to see investment at all three levels of government in this program and the future of new and young farmers in B.C.,” said Sara Dent, Young Agrarians B.C. program manager. “Fifty per cent of farmers in Canada under 35 lease land. The prohibitive cost of farmland in southern B.C. means that we have to facilitate solutions to land access if we want to see a future generation farming the land.”
The B.C. government established Grow BC in 2017 to support young farmers and food producers who are looking for a career in B.C. agriculture. Grow BC helps new farmers access land, and supports fruit and nut growers and processors to expand local food production.
Young Agrarians: http://youngagrarians.org/
Roger Woo’s The Farmhouse Bard: http://thefarmhousebard.com/
For more information on Growing Forward 2 programs in British Columbia, visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/growing-forward-2
For more information on Growing Forward 2, visit: http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/about-us/key-departmental-initiatives/growing-forward-2/?id=1294780620963