B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham introduces Sarah Wilson of Pendleton Farm in the Comox Valley, one of more than 200 farmers using the B.C. Land Matching Program, Merville, April 13, 2022. (Scott Stanfield/Comox Valley Record)

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham introduces Sarah Wilson of Pendleton Farm in the Comox Valley, one of more than 200 farmers using the B.C. Land Matching Program, Merville, April 13, 2022. (Scott Stanfield/Comox Valley Record)

B.C.’s young farmer lease program grows to 203 properties

Retiring farmers get matched with those starting out

B.C.’s assistance program for leasing land to new farmers has matched up 203 properties, with provincial assistance to local governments and charitable foundations.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham visited a Comox Valley farm Wednesday to tour a rotational vegetable market garden operating on 1.5 acres that supplies an on-farm produce stand, the local farmers’ market and local restaurants. Farmer Sarah Wilson operates Pendleton Farm, with a lease arranged through the B.C. Land Matching Program, administered by a foundation called Young Agrarians.

“As a new farmer starting a business, I didn’t have access to capital for purchasing land and I was lucky to connect with the landholders I now lease the property Pendleton Farm is on,” Wilson said April 13. “Young Agrarians and the B.C. Land Matching Program provided us with professional knowledge and support as we negotiated the lease, and both the property owners and I were made much more comfortable by having these resources, which help people get off to the right start when navigating all the hurdles of farming.”

The B.C. government has funded the program with $1.8 million since 2018, matching properties and farmers in all regions of the province. The program has established 51 matches in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, 59 on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, 53 in the Thompson-Okanagan, 20 in the Columbia Basin and 20 in Central and Northern B.C., with more than 9,000 acres in operation.

“Affordable access to land is the number one barrier that new and young farmers need to overcome today to start farms,” said Sara Dent, executive director of Young Agrarians.

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