Young farmers have received over 200 matches with landowners to make land access easier and strengthen food security.
The matches are coming through the B.C. Land Matching Program and is being delivered by Young Agrarians, an educational resource for new and young farmers in the province.
The announcement comes as the farming population is shrinking, according to Young Agrarians. They say less than two per cent of the population now live on farms, compared to 33 per cent in 1931 and less than nine per cent of farmers are under the age of 35.
On top of this, Young Agrarians say over 2,200 farms were lost in B.C. between 2011 and 2016.
Young Agrarians and the province say that access to land is the most difficult hurdle to jump, as land values have increased by 18 per cent in 2021 and 132 per cent since 2007.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Lana Popham says the pairings between farmers and landowners are vital to building the local food economy.
“More local food, more regional food systems that are developed, that’s what’s going to make this province more resilient and that’s one of our goals as government,” said Popham.
The province says over 9,000 acres across the province have been reactivated as farmland across the province with 203 matches. They include:
- 59 matches for 132 acres on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast
- 20 matches for 4,308.2 acres in central and northern B.C.
- 51 matches on 176.4 acres in Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley
- 53 matches in Okanagan-Thompson for 4,402.5 acres
- 20 matches for 87.4 acres in the Columbia Basin
“One of the things that this program does is that there’s business supports, there’s supports around fair leases for landowners and farmers,” said Popham.
Vancouver Island land matcher Azja Jones Martin says the land matching is open to new farmers looking for land to start a business and landholders looking to farm their land.
She adds they do “land socials” for those looking for land and there are not any limits on the size of land.
“We make matches for commercial productions,” said Martin. “A match can be made on 0.1 of an acre for example if there’s beekeepers looking for a place to keep their hives.”
Popham said the moment began with smaller farms but has now begun to expand across the province with larger sums of land.
In the Comox Valley, Sarah Wilson who runs Pendleton Farm in Merville says the project helped her to start her business after ending a different farming job.
“It made me and the landowners a lot more comfortable having access to people who could help us out,” said Wilson. “There were a million questions I didn’t even know I was supposed to be asking when I originally did this. It made farming here a lot more secure.”
Farmers can reach out to learn more about the program through the Young Agrarians website and questions can be sent to land[email protected].