The B.C. Land Matching program aims to address a lack of affordable farmland in the province by connecting new and young farmers with local landowners.
“The B.C. Land Matching Program is an innovative approach to one of the greatest barriers facing new and young farmers, which is accessing affordable farmland,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “The program will help new and young farmers and landowners, which ensures good farmland is being farmed and increases the province’s food security for British Columbians. Let’s get farmers onto the land, and let’s get farming!”
Popham was joined by local farmers and representatives from Young Agrarians (FarmFolk CityFolk Society) at Salt & Harrow Farm in Parksville to announce the new B.C. Land Matching Program.
The price of land in some parts of the province is making farming unattainable for many families, especially where some of the highest-quality agricultural soil is found. Many established farmers aging out of the industry are trying to develop succession plans to ensure their land is kept in production. As well, farmland owners who are not farming are often motivated to support local food systems and provide an opportunity to a young farmer-entrepreneur by leasing their land.
Dedicated land matchers are assigned to Vancouver Island, Metro-Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and the Columbia Basin to work closely with farmers, landowners, local governments and agricultural organizations. The support and services offered by land matchers range from hosting land-linking events to developing relationships with landowners, land seekers and community leaders, to facilitating negotiations and terms of the leasing arrangement with the support of a lawyer between landowners and land leasers.
Seann Dory, who runs Salt & Harrow Farm, exemplifies the success of land leasing in B.C.’s agriculture sector. Seann met Kris and Maria Chand, of Blue Heron Organic Farm, through a Young Agrarians' land-linking workshop. Kris and Maria were interested in leasing out extra land, and Seann was looking to lease some farmland on Vancouver Island to get it into production. Kris and Maria are certified organic farmers, who were interested in leasing land to someone else who shared similar values and would manage the land in the same fashion.
The B.C. Land Matching Program is delivered by Young Agrarians, a program of the FarmFolk CityFolk Society, with a $300,000 investment from the Government of B.C., and also draws support from municipal and regional partners, such as the Columbia Basin Trust, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Metro Vancouver, Township of Langley, City of Surrey and the Bullitt Foundation, with in-kind support provided by Cowichan Green Community.
Grow BC is a mandate commitment of the Ministry of Agriculture that supports young farmers and food producers who are looking for a career in B.C. agriculture. Grow BC also addresses major challenges for new farmers, such as gaining access to land in regions around the province.
The B.C. Land Matching Program is part of the Province’s larger New Entrant Strategy, a framework for increasing the number of new and young farmers working in B.C.’s agriculture sector.
Sara Dent, program director, Young Agrarians BC –
“We are really excited to see the growing interest in programs that offer hands on support for land access in B.C. New and young farmers need good, long-term land opportunities. Please reach out to us if you have farmland for lease.”
Amy Melmock, manager of economic development, Cowichan Valley Regional District –
“We’re extremely pleased to be taking park in the B.C. Land Matching Program here in the Cowichan region. As a local partner in this initiative, we’re confident it will be of benefit to both land owners and emerging farmers in our region.”
Seann Dory, Salt & Harrow Farm –
“We owe a lot of our early success to Kris and Maria who were willing to let us alter their land to create a functional farm. Having a lease in place that allowed us to share the risk of starting up gave us the confidence to commit to the long-term infrastructure needs of our farm.”
Kris Chand, Blue Heron Organic Farm –
“Maria and I are delighted to see what Seann has accomplished on the land he is leasing from us. Salt and Harrow Organic Farm has become a major supplier of organically grown fresh produce at three local farmers’ markets and additional markets in the Vancouver area. We are gratified to see that ALR land is being used for what it is intended to be used for: sustainable food production. We encourage other land owners to seek out young farmers through the B.C. Land Matching program to help them make B.C. a model in agriculture land use and sustainable food production.”
- In 2016, the average farmer was 55 years of age, while farmers under the age of 35 represented 9.1% of total farmers, up slightly from 8.2% in 2011.
- 66% of farmers plan to retire in the next 10 years, but only one in 12 farm operators in Canada have succession plans.
- Even though family farmers continue to get older, only one in 12 operators reported having a formal succession plan laying out how the operation will be transferred to the next generation of farmers. Corporations (mostly family corporations) are more likely to have succession plans (16.3%) than sole proprietorships (4.9%).
Young Agrarians B.C. Land Matching Program: http://youngagrarians.org/tools/land/
Find out more about the B.C. Land Matching Program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/land-matching
Salt & Harrow Farm: http://saltandharrow.com/
Blue Heron Organic Farm: https://bcfarmsandfood.com/farms/blue-heron-farm/
Cowichan Valley Regional District: https://www.cvrd.bc.ca
Cowichan Green Community: https://cowichangreencommunity.org
Government of B.C.’s New Entrant Strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/agriculture-and-seafood/farm-management/farm-business-management/6322_agri_newentrantstrategy_web.pdf