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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

Reserve a gym spot online with the Houston Leisure Facility

The online system is another step to make things easy during the pandemic

Bulk water, sewage project gets council’s approval

Facility to service large-scale users

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Thousands of child care spaces coming to 35 B.C. communities

Province announces milestone in Childcare BC plan

Most Read