Today’s Poll

Daily Dose — A New Generation Farmer

Ari Lord
By Ari Lord
April 11th, 2023

Matthew Carr, Owner and Production Manager at Linden Lane Farms, runs a small fruit, vegetable, and nursery business on family land that has been farmed for generations in Krestova.

The farm is located approximately eight kilometers north of the Highway 3A/6 junction at South Slocan and 31 km from Nelson.

“It’s a first-generation business, but I’m a 3rd generation farmer,” says Carr, who played Junior Hockey for the Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League before jumping into farming with both feet.

Carr has been selling produce grown on the farm for more than a decade.

“This will be my 11th season farming. I started (selling at) farmers markets in 2014 when I was 19.”

Linden Lane Farms sell produce at three markets a week in Nelson and Castlegar, wholesale through local retailers, and at their farm stand in Krestova.

“We hired 17 people last year," says Carr, "(so) the business has come a long way.”

Linden Lane Farms has three different community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs.

Namely, a Thyme Saver box program, is a program that delivers produce to Nelson and Castlegar and farm pick up over the summer and fall.

Linden Lane Farms is looking into a winter CSA over this coming season.

They offer a Market Card, which is like a reloadable gift card for purchasing farm products with added benefits. And finally, the Farm Club is a yearly membership program that offers discounts on purchases.

Carr is proud of their nursery.

“We have the largest edible-only nursery in the central Kootenays this year. Our website has over 500 products this season, from berries to fruit trees, veggie starts, herbs, and edible perennials. That’s a big part of our spring business before markets start coming with vegetables.”

Events like Pumpkin Fest and a winter Christmas tree and wreath sale bring people to the farm year-round.

“Last year, we saw over 5000 people come through in four days to pick up pumpkins and produce from the farm, and that was an amazing event. It continues to grow every year,” says Carr.

Carr was recently recognized by a national award program.

“The Canadian Outstanding Young Farmer Program was built to commemorate young farmers and their achievements. It’s to celebrate, collaborate and network. This year was our first nomination. It was an amazing learning experience.”

Linden Lane Farms has been a team effort as Matthew Carr receives support from fiancé, Emily Werner and extended family.

While Carr did not win, he is happy he has 12 more years to try, as he is only 28.

Carr first became interested in growing as a child.

“I got interested in farming through a plant propagation project in my Grade 8 science class.”

There was some resistance to him becoming a farmer, he says.

“My family didn’t want me to get into farming because my grandparents had lived quite a difficult life farming, and I’ve seen their financial struggles. But my dad insisted that I focus this more as a business, which has led to our success over the last couple of years. Growing is not easy, but it’s easier than the business side.”

Carr’s grandmother still operates her livestock side of the farm. Carr gets support from his parents and the community.

“I wouldn’t be here without the support of my family,” says Carr. “I love what we do. I wouldn’t be very successful without all the assistance from our great employees, staff, family, and community.”

Carr’s fiancé, Emily Werner, is giving up her job as a welder to start her own cut flower business on the farm.

“The farm is 150 acres. We’ve got 6.5 acres in production in Krestova and two other lease sites, in Tarrys and Shoreacres. It totals 10 acres of cultivation this year. Our water limits us. We’re in talks to improve our irrigation system from the Slocan River. The goal in the next ten years is to have 20 acres of production,” Carr explains.

Carr’s favourite aspect of his job is the social side of things.

“I really like interacting with my customers. I pride myself on the relationships I’ve built over the years. I’m still going to farmer’s markets once or twice a week.”

There are challenges to the job, for example, scant access to funding from grants and banks to build infrastructure. Carr explains:  

“It’s not a common industry in the Kootenays. It’s also one of my greatest strengths because I’ve learned to be frugal and bootstrap this farm. Cash flow in, cash flow out.”

Access to labour has been difficult in the last little while, and they tend to find younger, more transient workers.

“We attract some pretty amazing people. We pride ourselves in paying considerably higher wages than most farmers offer,” says Carr.

Carr has a new side business called Cultivate Horticulture with his dad, manufacturing greenhouse kits for farmers and backyard growers and distributing innovative tools and equipment across Canada. Ideally, summer farm workers could work in the winter building kits. Carr hopes that one day his father will retire from his construction job and work full-time at the farm.

Carr also takes on clients as an Agrologist specializing in Horticultural Agronomy, he offers advice on organic small-scale food and plant production.

Carr hopes to see other young people getting into farming in the area.

“There is a tremendous opportunity to produce more food here, and this is a great time for more people to get into farming. It will not be easy for the next couple of years with our economic situation. But at the same time, it offers some of the best job security because everyone has to eat three times a day.”

Carr invites residents to come to check out the farm stand, open every single day.

“It’s not that far a drive from Nelson and Castlegar, and you can interact with your farmers and your food and see where it comes from.”

Spring is a busy time at the farm stand turned garden centre with local seeds, fertilizer, potting soils, and early seasonal produce can be purchased now. In May, the nursery will fully open with garden starts and more fresh produce coming from the field and greenhouses.

The future looks bright for this young farmer.

“Our mission is to help people grow and eat healthier food. Our future’s pretty bright. We’re excited about the challenges and also nervous, but mostly excited,” says Carr.

Linden Lane Farms will once again be selling products during the weekly markets in Nelson.

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