Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham speaks with owner and operator of Parksville’s Salt & Harrow Farm Seann Dory on Sept. 18 before she announced a $300,000 commitment from the province to help farmers access affordable farm land. — Karly Blats photo

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham announced today (Sept. 18) at a Parksville farm that the provincial government is committing $300,000 to support the B.C. Land Matching Program.

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.

Through the program, that is delivered by Young Agrarians, a program of the FarmFolk CityFolk Society, land matchers are assigned to Vancouver Island, Metro-Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and the Columbia Basin to work 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.

“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,” Popham said. “We see land owners that haven’t had an interest in farming but they certainly have an interest in having their land farmed, so we need to take that new energy and come up with innovative ways to use it.”

Popham made the announcement at Parksville’s Salt & Harrow farm, which is owned and operated by Seann Dory, who demonstrates how success can be obtained in B.C.’s agriculture sector through land-linking.

Dory met Kris and Maria Chand, of Blue Heron Organic Farm, through a Young Agrarians’ land-linking workshop. The Chand’s were interested in leasing out extra land, and Dory 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.

“We didn’t really have the funds to be able to purchase a piece of property, so being able to meet somebody and have a deeper discussion on what a lease would look like long term, with the eventual goal of owning the property, is pretty key to our business success,” Dory said. “Putting down a down payment when you’re starting a farm business is pretty daunting. This kind of helps new businesses get into the game.”

Dory has been running the farm for about three years now, producing certified organic produce for farmer’s markets on Vancouver Island and the Mainland. He also distributes his food to local and Island restaurants.

During the announcement, Popham said the average age of farmers in B.C. is going up.

According to stats from the Ministry of Agriculture, in 2016, the average farmer was 55 years old, while farmers under the age of 35 represented 9.1 per cent of total farmers, up slightly from 8.2 per cent in 2011.

“I used to hear over and over again that farmers are getting old and nobody wants to farm,” she said. “I can agree that farmers are getting older but I don’t agree that people don’t want to farm. I think that we have this new energy around farming and we only have to look towards the Young Agrarians to see the networking that’s happening with people that are from B.C and coming from outside B.C. to get some dirt under their fingernails.”

Sara Dent, program director with the Young Agrarians, said the group’s land matchers are ready to support farmers and farmland owners with match-making, networking events, business supports and lease agreements.

“If you have farmland and you’d like to see it producing food, or you’re a farmer looking for land to lease, please reach out to Young Agrarians,” Dent said.

karly.blats@pqbnews.com

 

Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham announces a $300,000 commitment from the province to help farmers access affordable farm land at Parksville’s Salt & Harrow Farm on Sept. 18.

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Denesiuk announced as Liberal nominee for South Okanagan-West Kootenay

Connie Denesiuk ran for the first time in 2015, losing to current MP Cannings

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

Most Read