Young Agrarians Supports Young and New Farmers in Canada: an Interview with Young Agrarians

What is Young Agrarians? 

Young Agrarians (YA) is the largest educational resource network for new and young ecological farmers in Canada. YA offers farmer-to-farmer programming to grow the next generation of food growers. YA programs work to create access to education, training, land, business mentorship, and resources. The long-term goal of YA is to increase the number of viable and ecological farmers in Canada.”

Why was Young Agrarians created?

“Of the 1.7% of the Canadian population that farm, just 9% are 35 and younger, making up less than 25,000 farm operators (Stats Canada 2016). Cost of land and production are the biggest barriers to entering the sector. Since YA began in January 2012, the network of participating farmers and collaborating organizations has grown at the grassroots level coast-to-coast through farmers organizing and building community, representing over 13,000 participants at 300+ educational events. In 2020 we worked with approximately 1400 farmers at all different stages of their journey info farming and starting farms. Currently, YA programs are focused on Western Canada from B.C. to Manitoba: YA’s Grow-a-Farmer strategy in B.C. engages new, young and potential farmers through resources and opportunities online, brings them together to network and learn together on and off farms year-round, and when ready to start farms, supports them to access land and receive business supports and mentorship from a seasoned farmer. In the Prairies, the program has grown online and through events, as well as an on-farm Apprenticeship Program in Regenerative Agriculture.”

What connection have you noticed between agriculture and mental health? 

“Farmers work really hard. Young Agrarians hears about these challenges from farmers all the time – there is a huge burden on farmers to be superheroes! We know how much loving care farmers put into their crops and animals, but it can be hard to find the time to care for themselves too. Many farmers live in rural areas, which can feel isolating and comes with its own suite of challenges. Young Agrarians appreciates the wonderful resources provided by Rural Mental Wellness, and disseminates them to support farmers to look after their mental health.”

What programs and services do you offer to your members?

“YA operates both online and offline programming to build the food and farm community: 

Business Bootcamp – an online, community-based program to give new and prospective farmers the space and skills to write a stellar business plan to launch the farm of their dreams.

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.

B.C. Business Mentorship Network that pairs new farms in start-up with experienced mentors. 

Prairies Apprenticeship Program – advanced, hands-on apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Event series – regular year-round events ranging from farm tours, webinars, potlucks, and small-scale farming workshops to two-day mixers and more.

Online Resources:

Farmer blog – our website features job and apprenticeship postings, farmer profiles, prospective land to farm, funding opportunities, and more.
U-MAP – a self-serve, crowd-sourced map that aggregates farm resources across Canada.
Online tools – business resources and 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!” 

“The B.C. Land Matching Program is funded by the Province of British Columbia, with support from Columbia Basin Trust, Bullitt Foundation, Cowichan Valley Regional District, and Patagonia.

Gratitude to all of our amazing funders, sponsors, and donors for making the work we do possible.

All photos by Sara Dent”

Visit the Young Agrarians Website: