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Young Agrarians inspires tomorrow’s farmers

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 10:30 PDT, Fri July 31, 2020

Last Updated: 12:14 PDT, Fri July 31, 2020

While it may be an increasingly challenging profession, many young people are still drawn to farming. 

But getting into the field, especially without easy access to land, can be challenging—or downright unaffordable. That’s where the BC land matching program delivered by Young Agrarians comes into play.

“We’re a land matchmaking service,” explains BC program manager Darcy Smith. “We make connections based on suitability.”

Through the program, Smith works with prospective land tenants, as well as farmland holders in search of people to lease their land.

“Most of the new farmers getting into agriculture today do not come from a family farm background,” says Smith. “They’re often leasing land because they can’t afford to buy farmland—especially in Metro Vancouver.”

Young Agrarians helps new and prospective farmers with their business plans, as well as referring them to resources or jobs. When they find a good land match, staff facilitate the introduction between the landlord and tenant, then help negotiate an agreement.

“We’ve made 78 matches on 4,600 acres across BC,” says Smith. “In Metro Vancouver, the trends are definitely smaller plots, smaller acreages. Metro Vancouver really does have a very diverse set of production types, with lots of different types of agriculture happening.”

Smith says she’s made several matches in Richmond, which she calls a “vibrant agricultural community.”

She adds that many farmers are keen to be close to markets and housing, which they can find in Richmond. A lifestyle in addition to a job, farming can be a great way to form a deep connection to community.

“A lot of farms, big and small, are community hubs,” says Smith. “Having community support is essential for the success of the farmers—it’s a tough go out there. Farmers give so much back to their communities, both in terms of the food that they’re producing as well as the role they serve as land stewards and community hubs.

“It’s important for all of us who eat food to think about how important community is for farmers, and what they do for community as well.”

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