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

Convicted Chilliwack con man facing 39 charges in Vancouver area

Donald Quinnell got four years prison in 2015, again facing fraud, theft, stolen credit card charges

Chilliwack celebrates Chinese New Year at Sardis Library

Members of Vancouver’s Xinru Centre taught folks history of Chinese New Year, knot tying, calligraphy

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Jan. 20 to 26

Minus two-degree weather a warm welcome following cold snap in Chilliwack

People flocked to the hills Saturday, sleds in hand, to take in some snowy fun in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Highway 1 to look like winter war zone until owners retrieve wrecked vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

Most Read