The new British Columbia Land Matching Program (BCLMP) seeks to help new farmers in the north find opportunities to farm.
It does that by linking them up with landowners looking for people to farm their land, and by providing support to develop land agreements.
The BCLMP expanded into northern B.C. in June, after starting out in the south last summer, as Jolene Swain, Land Matcher for the region told Black Press.
Young Agrarians, part of the Agrarians Foundation in Nanaimo started BCLMP in Metro Vancouver as a pilot in 2016, then expanded to Vancouver/Fraser Valley, the Columbia Basin, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.
“The goal of the BC Land Matching Program is to address the significant barriers to land access for those seeking to enter the B.C. agriculture industry,” said Swain, who lives and works at an organic farm north of Hazelton.
“We’ve been hearing from farmers and farmland owners in central and northern B.C. that land access support is very much needed to help new farmers get on the land, and to help seasoned farmers transition their land and farm to the next generation.”
“My role as a Land Matcher is to connect farmers and farmland owners, which includes helping them better understand regulations, evaluate opportunities, access resources, and ultimately find a land match partner. I work with farmers to develop their business plan, help farmland owners assess their land opportunity, facilitate introductions and negotiations between farmers and farmland owners, and support the development of land agreements.”
More than two dozen farmers have been matched with farmland in southern regions since the program started last year.
Since BCLMP expanded into the north last month, there have been few matches, but there has been a lot of interest from potential farmers.
“Young Agrarians hosted a mixer in Williams Lake in February 2019, and we had [more than] 100 people come out to network and learn together. Other events on farms in the region have also been well attended,” Swain said.
“Right now, we’re focused on building an inventory of land opportunities and farmers seeking land, and there are already some potential land opportunities springing up in the region.”
Future events for farmers and landowners to connect are planned in the next few months.
For more information on joining the program check out its website at https://youngagrarians.org/tools/land/bc-land-matching-program/ or email Swain at firstname.lastname@example.org.