Community Futures Development Corporation of Fraser-Fort George

BC's Robson Valley has about 180 agricultural operators, including a growing number of market gardeners who are taking advantage of the valley's fertile silt-loam soils. (Photo: Regional District of Fraser-Fort George)

To research farm lease models and create resource packages tailored to central and northern BC, aiming to improve access to farmland.

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Beyond the Market: New Farm Initiative

From the fall of 2012 to spring 2014, the Beyond the Market initiative sought to increase the number of successful new farm entrants in the Highway 16 region from Valemount to Terrace by:

  • Developing agricultural training and internship programs;
  • Raising awareness of the region’s agricultural opportunities and challenges among potential farmers within and beyond the region;
  • Improving access to the region’s farmland.

There are already over one hundred farms in this region.

A key deliverable of this Community Futures Fraser-Fort George's initiative was the A-Z Guide for New Northern Farmers, which was developed to meet local information needs. The guide is available online and in print. The program website also provides an ongoing resource.

The project found that, unlike other BC regions, land access was not a pressing challenge with new northern farmers. More than 75% of the new farmers that this project connected with already had an existing farmland base. This discovery reinforced the fact that the needs of farmers in the North are very different than in the southern BC. However, while the majority had access to a land base, few felt they had adequate access to information and networks they needed to thrive.

The project was highly regarded by local farming communities and partner agencies. It served as a rallying point for the needs of northern farmers and received enquiries on a near daily basis in search of resources, support and key contacts.

In addition to this grant, we profiled Beyond the Market in a guest blog in June 2014.