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Opinion: Want to farm? Need Land? Check out this resource.

Some people have land that can grow crops, but they don’t want to farm; others want to farm and can’t find land. The solution – a program that matches people who want to farm with those who have land available to lease, and want it to stay in production or start producing crops.

It's called the BC Land Matching Program (BCLMP).  It’s part of Grow BC, a mandate commitment of the Ministry of Agriculture that supports young farmers and addresses major challenges for new farmers, such as gaining access to land. The program is also part of the Province’s larger New Entrant Strategy, a framework for increasing the number of new and young farmers working in B.C.’s agriculture sector.

The program is delivered by Young Agrarians.  And who are they?  Their website says, “Young Agrarians (YA) is a farmer to farmer educational resource network for new and young ecological, organic and regenerative farmers in Canada. They make it clear that all ages are included. To explore their website for more information about them and what they do, click here.  They provide some sobering statistics about the declining numbers of farmers, the ages of farmers, and the price of farmland, among other things.

Sara Dent, executive director, Young Agrarians, says, “Land matching programs are relatively new in Canada and support new farmers to find affordable land to start their businesses. We are very excited to be able to grow this type of program in British Columbia. We have made many matches to date. The larger impacts are the hundreds of landholders and new farmers reached annually who are now in a better position to provide or access land in the coming years.”

Land matchers provide personalized support services to new farmers and landholders.  Besides helpling them find a land match, they also help them better understand regulations, evaluate opportunities, and access resources.

The BC Land Matching Program provides:

§     An online and searchable inventory of B.C. land opportunities

§     Personalized, regional matchmaking services for farmers and landholders, including support to develop land use agreements

§     Referrals to business and technical support services

§     Educational events and resources to increase knowledge and facilitate matches between new farmers and landowners

The BC program has made 81 land matches so far, with six of them in the Columbia Basin. Landowners and those seeking land to farm in the Columbia Basin can both register with the service and seek a match by contacting Hailey Troock:  hailey@youngagrarians.org

The more people who can produce food, the less food-insecure we can all be; next to water, food is the most basic necessity of life.  It’s even more important than hairdressers, booze and foreign holidays!

Given the complications added to our modern lives by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing threats to food production from climate change impacts – less predictable weather, more extreme weather events: giant hail crushing crops, more droughts and wildfires crisping crops, floods drowning them or washing them away – more local food production is a sound survival strategy.

Given the continuing deterioration, depletion and outright loss of soils by  modern monocrop production highly dependent on synthetic fertilizers and toxic pesticides, the Young Agrarians’ focus on ecological, organic and regenerative agriculture is another sound survival strategy. We need all of those we can develop, these days.