Young Agrarians: Growing the next generation of ecological farmers
Young Agrarians (YA) is a network for new and young ecological and organic farmers. It started as a grassroots network in 2012 with the mission to grow new farmers, and has since spread across Canada from coast to coast. YA delivers educational events from farm tours to two-day farmer “mixers”, a B.C. Business Mentorship Network, the B.C. Land Matching Program, an Alberta apprenticeship program, and an extensive online community and bank of resources. To date, YA has hosted 231 events with more than 10,000 participants, representing 4,750 farmer volunteer hours.
The Young Agrarians network is made up of a diverse array of food growers and lovers: rural and urban farmers, market gardeners, seed savers, food activists, beekeepers, community gardeners, food/farmer organizations and more, all working to steward land and soil, and grow our local food systems.
YA facilitates capacity building by supporting new farmers to navigate startup through farmer2farmer learning. YA’s community economic development approach is to engage new, young, and potential farmers and friends online, bring them together to network and learn on and off farms, and when ready to start farms, support them to access land, as well as receive business and production mentorship from a seasoned farmer. This approach works to create and engage many people, thousands or even millions, that then refines down to new farmers serious about starting farms who need support to enter the sector. The long-term goal of YA is to increase the number of new, viable, and ecological farms in Canada.
Young Agrarians Programs
YA operates both online and offline programming to build the food and farm community:
- U-MAP - a self-serve map that aggregates farm resources across Canada.
- Farmer blog - sections for jobs, apprenticeships, prospective land to farm, and other opportunities.
- Online tools - business resources, downloadable tools, such as land lease and license templates and a BC Land Access Guide.
- Social media channels - buzzing networks that share opportunities, experiences, and connect our network across the country. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Hashtag #youngagrarians and grow the network with us!
- B.C. Land Matching Program - provides land matching and business support services to new farmers looking for land to farm, and landowners interested in finding someone to farm their land. Offers support developing leases and other land agreements.
- Business Mentorship Network that pairs up new farms in start-up with experienced mentors.
- Alberta Apprenticeship Program - coordinates advanced, hands-on apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture
- Event series - regular year-round events ranging from farm tours, potlucks, and small-scale farming workshops to two-day mixers and more.
Spotlight on Plenty Wild Farms
Alyssa and David own and operate Plenty Wild Farms, a small-scale, PACS-certified organic farm located in the beautiful Pemberton Valley of British Columbia. Alyssa and David have been involved with Young Agrarians since the beginning, hosting events and writing fantastic farming articles for our blog. More recently, they participated in our Business Mentorship Network in 2016/17 under the mentorship of Chris Bodnar of Close to Home Organics. The purpose of their mentorship was to look for efficiencies to streamline their operation and marketing, write a business plan, and strategize for farming while having a new baby!
Seven years after starting the farm they have built a very successful farm business, and they now work alongside part-time & full-time seasonal staff to produce over 40 delicious types of vegetables, herbs, apples, and strawberries. You can find Plenty Wild at the Squamish and Whistler Farmers’ Markets, at their own staffed farm stand two days a week in Pemberton, or by signing up for their farm share program. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for them and their new little farmer, Felix!
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