The Young Agrarians are members of a grassroots initiative set up to help those wanting to grow good, clean and fair food across Canada. They are inspired by the Greenhorns, a US-based organisation that recruits, promotes and supports a new generation of young farmers.
As in the United States, Canada’s farming population is shrinking. In 2006, the number of Canadian’s living on a farm was just 1 in 46, compared to 1 in 3 in 1931. The mission of the Young Agrarians is to celebrate, connect and inspire young people to farm.
The Young Agrarians are not just ‘young’ farmers; they are any new entrant into agriculture, including young and new agriculturalists, rural, peri-urban and urban farmers, market and community gardeners, food policy geeks, community groups, educational institutions, organisations and anyone who values food, farming, nature and community.
The organisation exists both online and offline, with a host of resources and support available. The tools section of its website contains a wealth of materials, including an interactive map allowing you to find opportunities across Canada – such as farmers’ markets, funding programmes, educational facilities, apprenticeships and jobs.
Access to land is a continuing issue for many new entrants to farming around the world, which is why the Young Agrarian’s Land Access Guide is such essential reading for any prospective farmer or grower. Asking the question ‘how have new farmers gotten onto land?’ it outlines the various avenues for accessing land. It also offers useful tips on how to assess land and advice from more established farmers based on their own experiences.
In 2014, the Young Agrarians also launched the Business Mentorship Network to help newbies develop their farming skills. So far, in 2015, it involves 20 farmers and farm mentors, who share their stories online. Many people considering a career in agriculture have a desire to reconnect with the land and an understanding of how to run a farm in the technical sense, but they might not necessarily have the business knowledge to make their operations financially viable. The Young Agrarians have brought together numerous resources to ensure their venture is successful, from straightforward business plans and financial tools, to marketing advice such as programmes for sending out newsletters and web design specifically geared towards small-scale farmers.
Throughout the year the Young Agrarians offer a range of opportunities to attend events and meet with others, from farm tours to potlucks and educational workshops.
If you are considering your options as a new farmer in Canada, the Young Agrarians can help you on the right path. To find out more, visit www.youngagrarians.org.
Photograph: Chiot’s Run
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